Do we need multivitamins?

Multivitamins can be a good way to help supplement a diet for those who do not consume enough fruit, fresh vegetables and whole grains. But health experts generally agree that a multivitamin is not a good substitute for a healthy, well-balanced diet.

If you do eat a balanced diet, you do not need a multivitamin and actually may be getting too much of a good thing. If you are a healthy eater, it may be wiser to use specific vitamins to supplement areas where your diet falls short.
If you eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and meats, you may well get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

However, there are certain times in life, such as during pregnancy, breast-feeding or an illness, that your nutrient requirements may increase. At those times, you may want to take a supplement to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need. You may also want to take a multi or other supplement as you get older, because people sometimes start to have problems absorbing vitamins from food as they age. And if you're on a restricted diet -- if you avoid animal products, for instance -- you may need a supplement, because your diet may not provide adequate amounts of some nutrients.

More than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Ask your doctor whether you could benefit from taking multivitamins and, if so, what type of multivitamin would be best for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.