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You may have heard from a young age that you are supposed to take a multivitamin to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but is there any truth behind this statement?
Doctors recommend that whenever possible, it’s best to get as many of your nutrients as you can from the food you consume, as stated by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But getting the optimal amount of nutrients may not be possible for everyone, so taking supplements to boost nutritional intake can be beneficial for some people.
There’s a lot of information out there on this subject, and in the end, the determination about whether to take supplements often comes down to an individual choice you make after consulting with your doctor. That said, here’s some basic guidance on what we know about vitamins and supplements and whether you should consider them.
If you’ve decided to take a supplement, it’s vital that you find one that works for your body, and with any medication you may be prescribed. Talking to your doctor before beginning any dietary change is essential. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keeps a list of supplements that are being reviewed or may cause negative effects, they do not actively regulate this industry in the same way they do for prescription medications. There may be health claims included on some supplements that have yet to be proven, or are blatantly untrue.
In general, here are a few tips for what you should do if you think a supplement is right for you:
Healthy people whose diets includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and some fish might not need supplements at all. However, there are a few situations where it might be advisable to take supplements or eat foods fortified with certain nutrients:
Dietary supplements may also be appropriate if:
It’s important to remember that supplements shouldn’t simply replace food. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables still offer better nutrition overall, plus vital fibers and protective antioxidants your body needs – and there’s evidence that supplements don’t offer the same benefits in all these areas.
Speak with your doctor about whether supplements might benefit you.
“Vitamins: Separating Fact From Fiction.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/men/features/vitamins-separating-fact-from-fiction#1
“Supplements: Nutrition in a pill?” The Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/supplements/art-20044894
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.