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A Doctor Responds to Questions About Multi Vitamins

DrSugar Answers: Taking a Multi-Vitamin?

DrSugar is in the house and answering your questions.

Hi DrSugar!
I'm 23 and if I am honest with myself about my diet, I don't think I am eating the recommended daily doses of vitamins and minerals. Could you provide some insight on the benefits and downsides of a daily multi-vitamin, or is it more beneficial to eat my vitamins in whole foods? Should a multi-vitamin include calcium and other women-focused nutrients, but I'd really appreciate your healthy opinion!
Needing a Vitamin

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Taking a trip down the vitamin aisle at the drug store is overwhelming, and if you read the advertisements you might feel like you are missing out on all sorts of important vitamins and minerals. The truth is that true vitamin deficiency is very rare in the modern world, even for those with strict dietary restrictions. Most of us have the good fortune of access to a wide variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy which provide all of the vital nutrients. Many of the foods we eat are also artificially fortified with nutrients. For example, table salt contains iodine, bread contains folate, milk commonly has vitamins A and D, and cereals often contain many different vitamins and minerals. There is some evidence that there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to certain vitamins. For example, too much vitamin A during pregnancy can be toxic to the growing fetus. In many cases it is also unclear how supra-normal doses of certain vitamins and minerals affect our bodies.

A well rounded diet is far and away the best method of obtaining the important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. The main exception to this concept is in regards to calcium and vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of osteoporosis. If your dietary intake of calcium is not around 1000mg it is important to supplement with calcium to promote bone growth and prevent osteoporosis. There are other studies that suggest fish oil can improve HDL cholesterol levels, which can possibly prevent heart disease. Multivitamins are also generally recommended for those with severe dietary restrictions, the elderly, or other illnesses that can affect the absorption of nutrients. Other than these few exceptions, dietary supplements can never replace the importance of a well rounded, balanced diet. is a great resource that can be used to determine if your diet is providing the nutrients you need.

If you have a question for DrSugar, send me a private message here and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I take Calcium/Vitamin D, fish oil, and prenatals because I'm planning on getting pregnant in a few months.
Melo-D Melo-D 9 years
I usually take my multi-vitamin around my cycle or if i come down with a cold. Other than that, if I know the previous day I didn't eat that great, then I'll take it.
moonlite moonlite 9 years
I don't take multivitamins because I think the "recommended daily allowances" are grossly overstated in a lot of cases, and I think getting too much of any vitamin or nutrient is just as bad, or worse, than getting slightly less than what's recommended. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of variety and cut down on packaged foods, you should be fine. On a side note, every time I've taken a multivitamin in the past, I've gotten horrible break-outs. One more reason for me to stay away from them.
imLissy imLissy 9 years
I must be doing good. the two vitamins I take are calcium/magnesium/vitamin D and fish oil :P
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