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Are Multivitamins Worth Taking?

Dear Sugar
I take a women's multivitamin everyday. But I've been told that they aren't a substitute for the natural vitamins in various foods and that the body can't even absorb over a certain amount of vitamins and minerals at one time. So, are multivitamins even doing anything for me? Are they worth taking? One A Day Wonderer

Dear One A Day Wonderer
This is a very good question that unfortunately I don't have a very good answer for. According to The Washington Post from last Wednesday there isn't enough evidence yet to make a decision to recommend for or against the use of multivitamins and mineral supplements. 52% of American's take multivitamins every day and they spend over $23 billion a year on them based on the belief that these vitamins will help prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. But evidence supports that there are really only 3 instances where supplements actually provide a clear heath benefit. They are:

  • Calcium and vitamin D reduce the risk of bone fractures in post-menopausal women.
  • Vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc and copper minerals reduce the risk of vision loss in people with early signs of macular degeneration, (one of the leading causes of age-related blindness).
  • Folic acid prevents birth defects in the spine and brain.

What I can recommend is for you to closely examine your diet to see what's missing from it. The current daily serving recommendations for the Food Pyramid are:

  • Milk, Yogurt & Cheese Food Group: 2-3 Servings
  • Vegetable Food Group: 3-5 Servings
  • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs & Nuts Group: 2-3 Servings
  • Fruit Group: 2 - 4 Servings
  • Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group: 6-11 Servings
  • Fats, Oils & Sweets - Use Sparingly

Don't forget about drinking plenty of water too. Soft drinks and other sweetened drinks count as sugars so don't let those sneak in there to rack up unwanted calories.

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