While a balanced nutrient rich diet is really the best way to meet all of our dietary needs, national surveys indicate that many Americans are not getting enough micronutrients from the diet, possibly increasing their risk for osteoporosis, some forms of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Marginal or subclinical micronutrient deficiencies have been linked to general fatigue, lowered immunity, and adverse effects on cognition. Many studies have shown that people who take a daily multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplement with the recommended doses of most vitamins and minerals can fill most of these nutritional gaps safely and at a very low cost.
Vitamins and nutritionally essential minerals maintain normal cell function, metabolism, growth and development through their roles as essential cofactors in thousands of biochemical reactions. Many factors including age, gender, disease, ethnicity and genetic differences affect the concentrations of ingested micronutrients in the blood, organs and tissues of humans.
Supplements can especially play a key role for some groups of people including the elderly, people on long-term restrictive weight loss diets and those with malabsorption problems like celiac disease, crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis.
Depending on your needs taking a daily MVM supplement will not only help fill the known nutritional gaps in the average American diet, thereby assuring normal biological function and metabolism supporting good health, but may also have the added benefit of reducing cancer and maintaining nutritional status. The benefit to risk ratio favors MVM supplementation with plausible or demonstrated health benefits and little risk.
Consistency is really the key question to ask yourself? Vitamin supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but a general multivitamin may help if your diet is inadequate. Vitamins are not drugs or miracle cures and shouldn’t be taken to counteract poor lifestyle habits like excessive drinking or overconsumption of refined and processed foods.
High-dose supplements should not be taken unless recommended under medical advice. Be aware that vitamins and minerals can also affect the absorption and effectiveness of medications. Always check with your physician or your pharmacist for possible interactions.
Kimberly Young, M.S. is a practicing Nutritionist in Dallas, Texas. Learn about her integrative and functional approach to diet and nutrition at kyoungnutrition.com