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Who Needs Multivitamins?

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Updated February 09, 2009

Question: Who Needs Multivitamins?

Supplements and multivitamins are everywhere. It seems no matter where you go you will see or hear about how multivitamins will help you and your overall health. For certain groups of people, this is true. For others, it is not.

Most healthy people get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet. In fact, taking a multivitamin when you get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet can actually be dangerous. Overdosing on some vitamins can cause serious illnesses and even organ damage.

So, who should be taking vitamins every day? Find out if you need multivitamins.

Answer:

  1. Those who are elderly and have poor dietary habits or decreased exposure to the sun.
  2. Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, breastfeeding or have been through menopause.
  3. Those who are vegetarians. Vegetarians and vegans most likely will only need a B-12 supplement, but may need other vitamins too, depending on the variety of the diet.
  4. Those who eat less than 1,200 calories a day.
  5. Those who are lactose intolerant or have a medical condition that affects vitamin absorption. Talk to your doctor about your specific condition and the supplements you may need.
  6. Those who smoke and/or drink excessively.
  7. Those who generally have a poor diet that includes very few fruits and vegetables.

If you aren't sure that you fall into one of these categories and you take a daily multivitamin, it will probably not hurt you. Just be sure the multivitamins are balanced and don't have an extremely high amount of any of the vitamins and minerals included in them. Some multivitamin options include Centrum and One-A-Day vitamins that include 100 percent of the recommended daily value of most vitamins and minerals. Avoid multivitamins that boast about megadoses (300 to 400 percent) of certain vitamins or minerals. These can get you into trouble and put you at risk for an overdose.

Making sure you get enough vitamins and minerals through either your diet or a combination of diet and multivitamins is very important for your overall health. Although taking vitamins will not help prevent the cold or flu, the healthier your immune system is, the better you will be able to fight off cold and flu infections if you do get them. And of course, if you have any questions about your vitamin needs, talk to your health-care provider.

Sources:

"Vitamins: Help or Hindrance to Good Health?" The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Health Extra Newsletter. 03 Jun 2007.

"Dietary supplements: do you need them?" Mayo Clinic 05 Jun 2006. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 03 Jun 2007.

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