The Multivitamin/Mineral Conundrum

Should you be taking a multivitamin supplement? The answer may surprise you.

The Multivitamin/Mineral Conundrum

To supplement or not to supplement—that is the question! It begs a yes or no answer, yet the response to one of the most frequently asked questions of dietitians remains open to interpretation. It depends, quite frankly, on whom you ask.

While most nutrition professionals agree that food should always be the preferred source of nutrients, they also recognize that supplements have their place. Supplements are an adjunct. They are, by definition, a reinforcement—that which is added to complete or enhance the whole. They are not supposed to replace food.

Experts vary widely on their recommendations for supplements. The American Dietetic Association states that supplements might be warranted for individuals who: often skip meals or snacks; are following a low calorie eating plan; are elderly and often find food unappealing; skip dairy products on a regular basis; follow a strict vegetarian plan; or are women of child-bearing age who fail to consume adequate amounts of fruits ands vegetables.

Medical practitioners state that vitamin and mineral supplements may be warranted when individuals are not eating regularly or if the diet is not rich in fresh foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The University of California at Berkeley, in its wellness newsletter asserts–“Many people should take a basic supplement, especially people over 60, anyone not eating a balanced diet,vegans and women of child-bearing age.”

Intelihealth experts recommend that one multivitamin per day might benefit all children and adults. You may use the “added insurance” that a multivitamin provides in meeting the “adequate intake of the daily necessary vitamin and micronutrients” for most individuals.

From a personal perspective, I, too, recommend that (unless contraindicated for any reason) everyone take a basic multivitamin/mineral supplement. My recommendation is based not only on the research I have done regarding supplements, but on personal experience as well.

While I cannot guarantee that a multivitamin/mineral supplement will change your life, I can tell you that it has made a difference in me. I noticed a visible change in the health of my hair, skin, and nails. I can only surmise the effect on my internal organs.

A word of caution for those who believe that “if some is good, more is better” please do not apply that to supplement intake. While some vitamins and minerals may be beneficial in amounts exceeding the current recommendations, there are others in which excesses can be detrimental. In the upcoming weeks we will be examining some of the research (and there is a copious amount) related to beneficial (and in some cases, harmful) levels of individual nutrients in supplements.

Read more: Which Supplement is Best for You?