Are you overdosing on vitamins?
For years, millions of Americans have popped vitamin pills and supplements in hopes of avoiding the flu, a cold or the latest bug floating around. For some, a multivitamin is their go-to. Studies show a multivitamin can be an excellent source of nutrients to keep the body healthy and strong, specifically for those with nutrient deficiencies.
However, studies have also highlighted multivitamins do not prevent more serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Another study noted only slight health benefits to taking a daily multivitamin.
Dr. Jennifer Crane with Advocate Medical Group in Oswego, Ill., clarifies, “The best way to gain nutrients is through a well-balanced diet. However, for populations who are at higher risk for poor food intake, such as the elderly with poor dentition and problems swallowing, a multivitamin can help fill any existing nutritional gaps.”
86% of American adults take a multivitamin regularly, but only 24% of those adults have tested and reported a nutritional deficiency, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Understanding your nutritional gaps is key to ensuring you don’t take on an excess of certain vitamins. “Although a basic multivitamin is likely safe, excessive amounts of vitamin A and beta carotene can be harmful to the body,” Dr. Crane says.
However, specific groups can still benefit greatly from a multivitamin. For example, Dr. Crane recommends multivitamins to post-menopausal patients to help combat calcium, vitamin D and iron deficiencies.
The best recommendation is a dialogue with your doctor to discuss your nutritional needs. A healthy and balanced diet is the optimal way to consume nutrients, vitamins and minerals. However, certain supplements such as multivitamins can help fill the gaps your diet may lack.
Before purchasing a supplement or vitamin, talk to your doctor. Together, you can find the best path forward and avoid overdoing it on vitamins.
Read more on which vitamins you should include in your diet.