For the majority of people, vitamin supplementation is not necessary. Adequate
vitamin intake can usually be attained by a healthy balanced diet. However,
there are a few situations where vitamins might be helpful.
Multivitamins can help decrease nutrient deficiencies, but should not be
used as substitutes for a sensible diet and other healthy lifestyle habits.
There have been various studies that looked at the effects of vitamins
on chronic disease. The consensus so far is that multivitamins do not
play much of a role in decreasing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease,
eye disease, memory impairments, or cancer.
Studies have shown that vitamins help in some specific conditions. For
example, it is recommended that pregnant women (or women who might become
pregnant) should take vitamins that include folic acid to prevent neural
tube defects in the baby. Another example is that Vitamin D supplementation
might help prevent bone disease in elderly patients. Vitamin D is also
recommended for babies who are exclusively breastfed. Taking a daily multivitamin
might not help in the majority of cases, but if taken appropriately they
are not harmful. It is important to note that Vitamin A and Vitamin E
can be harmful if taken in excess.
If you are interested in starting vitamin supplementation you should discuss
it with your primary care physician first. The decision to take a vitamin
regimen comes down to the individual and should be tailored to a person’s
age, gender, diet, and risk factors.
For additional information about healthy living, please join me for my
free community presentation titled
Healthy Living: What to Know on March 1 at the Hoag Newport Beach Conference Center.