Often, I am asked, “Should I take a multivitamin and mineral supplement?”
My answer is always, “it depends”. If you eat a healthful diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low fat dairy, and healthy fats, you probably don’t need a supplement.
However, not everyone manages to eat healthfully and, in this case, using a multivitamin mineral supplement as recommended may be helpful. When it comes to specific vitamins and minerals, the need for supplementation may change. Many people, even those who eat well, do not get enough Vitamin D or Vitamin E so, supplementing with specific vitamins may be helpful.
Elderly people, pregnant and breast-feeding women, people with malabsorption conditions such as celiac disease, and alcoholics are some of the groups of people who may benefit from a multivitamin mineral supplement.
Some reasons to use a multivitamin include:
- Poor appetite leading to inadequate food intake.
- Following a restricted diet for longer than one week such as a liquid diet after surgery or intentional food restriction with goal of weight loss.
- Conditions that cause malabsorption such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or weight loss surgery.
- Temporary increase the need for nutrients such as pregnancy or lactation.
- A very busy lifestyle that makes it difficult to eat a balanced diet every day.
- Overuse of alcohol or recreation drugs.
- Use of certain medications
Some things to consider before using a multivitamin include:
- Always check with your physician before starting any supplement.
- Visit a Registered Dietitian if you have any of the conditions listed above.
- Always follow the recommended dosage. More is not always better.
The bottom line is to try and eat a well balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The main purpose for using a multivitamin mineral supplement is to help fill in nutritional gaps that may not be met by diet alone.