Choosing the Right Vitamins
The smart way to select a supplement
Even with the best dietary intentions, we often fall short of meeting all
our nutritional needs. One answer is a daily multivitamin, which is safe,
effective, and can go a long way toward correcting any nutritional
Of course, the ideal way to get your nutrients is still from food. Food not
only supplies vitamins and minerals, but also gives us fiber and a host of
other healthy compounds, like phytochemicals and antioxidants, that interact
with each other in ways that supplements can't.
The scientific community used to believe that a varied, healthful diet would
provide all the vitamins and minerals we need. But recent surveys show that
most American diets fall short of satisfying the minimum daily requirements for
several vitamins and minerals. (Still, we rarely see actual deficiencies in the
U.S., simply because we eat plenty of food.)
The culprit? Often, it's life in the fast lane -- chowing down on too much
fast food and not enough fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
Researchers have concluded that a single daily multivitamin/mineral pill may be
the answer for achieving optimum health and preventing chronic diseases.
At the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, we encourage everyone to take a daily
multivitamin. This is especially important for people whose calorie
prescription is less than 1,500 per day.
Under certain conditions -- for example, if you're pregnant or following a
strict vegetarian diet -- you may need additional supplements. Check with your
doctor or a registered dietitian for more information.
Approximately 40% of Americans take supplements, according to the third U.S.
National Health Examination Survey. And the most popular supplement is the
One important point: a daily multivitamin supplements your diet; it's
not intended to correct a bad diet. The benefit of a daily multi is that it can
make up for minor deficiencies in your diet that could eventually help lead to
chronic disease. In fact, a study published in the August 2003 Journal of
Nutrition found that men and women who took multivitamins significantly
reduced their risk for a first heart attack.
The body needs roughly 40 vitamins and minerals each day for good health,
and it's not always easy to get all of those from food. Taking a daily
multivitamin certainly won't hurt, even if your diet is already chock full of
vitamins and minerals.