Vitamins are all around us. On pharmacy shelves, in grocery store isles, in powdered and pill form – they’re a booming industry. Not everyone needs a multivitamin – as long as you’re in good health and eat a fairly balanced diet. Doing so means you’re likely to absorb enough essential vitamins from foods. A balanced diet would include foods like fruit of all colors, dark green, leafy vegetables, skim milk, 100 percent whole grains and lean proteins like skinless chicken.
But there are exceptions. People who are on a restricted diet, like vegetarians and vegans, those who follow a strict weight loss plan or with certain medical conditions like celiac disease may benefit from multivitamins. And if you’re inside more than not, you’re likely low in a key nutrient – vitamin D. This essential vitamin is needed to maintain strong bones by helping your body absorb calcium from food and supplements. It also supports your immune system and brain function and helps regulate your body’s insulin levels.
The UV rays of the sun provide us with vitamin D, but vitamin D deficiency is common since many people spend so little time outdoors. Research shows that vitamin D plays a role in everything from cognitive health to muscle function to bone production. If you have symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, such as fatigue or muscle aches, or if you fall into any of the other categories above, ask your physician if you should start taking vitamins or modify your diet. Vitamin D is found in some fish, such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, and fortified products, such as milk. And your physician may “prescribe” for you to spend a few more minutes each day outdoors.
To be safe, always follow the dosages that your physician recommends – whether for a prescription drug or vitamin regimen. A name-brand multivitamin from a known manufacturer probably won’t hurt most people, although medical experts are still debating how much it helps.