Should I Take Vitamins?

Supplements. Xandert / stock.xchg

Question: Should I Take Vitamins?

The questions about which vitamins a person should take is complicated, and I am not going to get into vitamin recommendations here. But what I am going to do is help you navigate the world of vitamin recommendations and supplements -- that way you'll be equipped with the right questions to ask your doctor or other health professional.

Answer: Here are some basic questions and thoughts about vitamins and supplements to help you decide what vitamin recommendations you should follow:

  • Am I Taking Any Medications? Medications can change how your body processes nutrients, which can cause deficiencies in certain types of vitamins. Be sure to ask your doctor if you should take any vitamins along with your medications. You can also check Drug A-Z to find out yourself about the medications you are taking (then, remember to still check with you doctor as well).
  • What Do I Eat? If you eat a wide variety (5+ servings) of fruits and vegetables everyday, chances are you are getting almost all the vitamins you need from your food (the best place to get vitamins). If you are not eating that well, you have a choice -- take vitamins to make up for the difference, or start eating healthier. My recommendation is to start eating healthier, because no matter how many vitamins you take, you'll still not be able to get the same quality of nutrients as you can from real food.
  • Do You Get Out Much? Vitamin D is becoming more and more important as researchers study this vitamin. If you are not outside at least for 15 minutes or so everyday, or if you have concerns about skin cancer and always cover up - you may need some vitamin D supplementation. Your doctor can run a test to see your vitamin D levels and figure out what you may need.
  • Are You Pregnant? If you are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, vitamins are a good idea. Here are some nutritional needs for pregnancy, but let your OB/GYN help guide you if you have any questions.
  • Of course, you're likely to hear about hundreds of wonderful things that vitamins and supplements can do and diseases they can prevent. Some of these claims might be true, and some clearly aren't. Use common sense, get advice and remember to eat real, healthy food to get your vitamins and minerals if possible. Also, keep in mind that taking too much of a vitamin or mineral can be harmful to you, so speak about the correct dosing with your doctor.

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