Anne Harguth, R.D.N.
Many vitamins and minerals are essential, contributing to normal functioning of the human body. While dietitians recommend most vitamins and minerals be obtained through food sources, this isn't always possible. For example, if you don't consume enough fruits, vegetables or other healthy foods, a multivitamin may be helpful. Other instances where a multivitamin could be beneficial are if you have certain food allergies or intolerances, become pregnant, or have a disease or condition that affects nutrient intake. Taking a daily multivitamin or other supplement is common.
Here are a few tips regarding supplements:
- Avoid megadoses.
High-dose supplements can cause toxic levels of nutrients to build up in your body. Select a vitamin that provides about 100 percent of the daily value, unless told otherwise by your health care provider.
- Look for "USP Verified" on the label.
This label ensures the product meets strength, quality and purity standards set forth by the testing organization U.S. Pharmacopeia.
- Be aware of extras.
Don't feel the need to purchase products with special ingredients or added herbs, enzymes, amino acids or unusual ingredients. These extras usually add nothing but cost.
- Check the expiration date.
Vitamins and supplements can become less effective over time.
- Ask the experts.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about what vitamin and mineral supplements you should be taking.
Let's take a moment to compare foods with supplements. When it comes to vitamin C, you can obtain 100 percent of your needs by taking a vitamin C capsule. Or, you can consume an orange and receive not only vitamin C but also beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. Which is a better choice? The orange. Why? Because many foods also contain fiber and phytochemicals, substances that may protect against certain cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes — something supplements don't include. However, as mentioned above, sometimes a daily vitamin is a good option to support health and well-being.