Should I be taking daily vitamin supplements to replace what is missing from my diet?

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Answered by: Frances, An Expert in the Nutrition - General Category
There is no clear cut answer to this question. While there is no conclusive data that proves that taking a daily multivitamin has any effect on preventing disease, daily vitamin supplements are a great way to make sure you are getting the nutrients that might be missing from your diet. While eating a balanced diet should provide all of the nutrients you need, not everyone eats well and in western culture convenience foods have replaced many more healthful choices in our day to day lives.

Taking a multivitamin every day is a cheap way to make sure you are getting everything that might be missing from your diet. There are also a few individual supplements that studies have shown could be beneficial.

Safety Concerns

For the most part daily vitamin supplements are safe. There are some things to keep in mind however. Unlike prescription drugs and over the counter medication, supplements are not FDA regulated and therefor you should take care to educate yourself on the various pros and cons associated with each vitamin supplement.

•Be careful with your dosage. Many vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B6 can be dangerous when taken in very large amounts. Make sure to follow the dosage instructions on the bottle

•Tell your doctor! Always tell your physician what supplements you are taking to avoid dangerous interactions with prescribed medication.

•Maintain a healthy diet. Multivitamins and other dietary supplements can’t replace a healthful diet. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, legumes, whole grain foods and lean meats. Avoid copious amounts of saturated fats and sugary foods.

These are some of the more effective supplements available to you;


A diet lacking sufficient calcium could lead to weakened bones and osteoporosis. This is especially true in women over the age of 65; doctors recommend that women of this age take 1500 mg daily. The recommended amount of calcium for most adults is about 1200 mg per day.

Vitamin D

Very little of the vitamin D you need comes from your diet. Most of it is made by your body after sun exposure. Vitamin D is an important element in calcium absorption and the two nutrients are often combined into one supplement. An average adult needs about 400 IU of vitamin D.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids will help prevent cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that 0.5 to 1.8 grams of fish oil per day is an effective amount.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is the supplement form of the B vitamin Folate. Folic acid is recommended for women who may become pregnant and might help reduce homocysteine levels, which could help reduce the risk of heart disease, which accounts for one third of all the deaths of women in the world. The recommended amount for adults is 400 mcg per day.


Foods such as yogurt and foods that are fermented naturally contain bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria are very similar to the healthy bacteria normally found in your digestive system. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements and have been shown to be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome.

When taken in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, vitamin supplements can be a great addition to your daily routine.

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