Hello SOTGC community,
There are so many choices out there when it comes to dietary supplements and questions about how to take them and whether or not they should be taken at all.
Expert sources agree that vitamin supplements are not meant to replace real food. Whole foods provide vitamins, minerals, and fats that are either not found in synthetic supplements or are better absorbed when consumed naturally. Most nutritionists agree that vitamin supplements are beneficial for individuals who eat a balanced diet but are still deficient in certain nutrients.
Multivitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is not currently a standard or regulatory definition that delineates what a multivitamin must contain or the minimum level of nutrients contained in a supplement. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines a multivitamin as “any supplement containing three or more vitamins and minerals but no herbs, hormones, or drugs, with each component at a dose less than the tolerable upper level determined by the Food and Nutrition Board.…”
Basically, there’s a lot that we don’t know about the multivitamins on the store shelves and whether or not we should be taking them. Health experts do agree that there are populations of people that may benefit from a supplement containing certain nutrients. For example:
- Supplements containing calcium and vitamin D are associated with increased bone density and decreased risk of fractures in post-menopausal women.
- Pregnant women, particularly during their first trimester, taking 400 mcg of folic acid have a lower risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects.
- Vegans and people over the age of 50 benefit from taking B12 supplements as they are either not consuming foods that contain this nutrient or are less capable of absorbing B12 from natural food sources.
- Iron supplements are recommended for pregnant women.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfed infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D until they are weaned.
- Additionally, children who suffer from an inadequate appetite, have chronic diseases, consume a vegetarian diet, and/or suffer from failure to thrive all should receive nutritional supplements according to the AAP.
Talk to a health provider about your nutritional risk factors and how to put together a personal plan that’s right for you.
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