Multivitamins come in all shapes, flavors and now you can chew a gummy instead of swallow a pill. Recently, a series of studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that multivitamins don’t benefit your health.

But Diana Pantalos, R.D., a nutritionist at Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center in the Department of Pediatrics at UofL, says don’t just stop taking multivitamins based on these studies. One of the studies said there was “inadequate evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of supplements of single or paired vitamins, multivitamins, or minerals to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.”

“We don’t take these vitamins and minerals for chronic disease prevention,” she said. “We take them to help strengthen bones and prevent conditions such as anemias.”

Another reason daily vitamins have long been recommended is that we don’t always get the nutrients we need from our diets.

“You need a multivitamin if you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, or aren’t eating as healthy as you should,” Pantalos said. “Of course if you eat well, food will provide all the nutrients you need.”

She recommends that individuals take no more than the recommended doses of vitamins and minerals and talk to their doctor or registered dietitian if they have additional questions or health concerns.

Should You Take a Multivitamin Daily?

• Women who might become pregnant should get 400 mcg/day of folic acid from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine in their newborn babies.

• Pregnant women should take an iron supplement as recommended by their health care provider. A prenatal MVM is likely to provide iron.

• Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should receive vitamin D supplements of 400 IU/day, as should non-breastfed infants who drink less than about 1 quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk.

• In postmenopausal women, calcium and vitamin D supplements may increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures.

• People over age 50 should get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements because they might not absorb enough of the B12 that is naturally found in food.

Source: The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements

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Melody Kitchen

Melody Kitchen is the director of communications at UofL Health. She has more than 15 years of health care marketing experience. Melody believes that empowering people with health care knowledge enables them to be better advocates for their own health care. Melody received her bachelor's and master's from Texas Tech University.

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