VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS
Do You Really Need Them?
This information is from Johns Hopkins Health Alerts e-mail periodical.
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Do you take a dietary supplements?
If so, you’re in good company: More than half of all U.S. adults take at least one daily supplements. But a group of researchers are now saying that vitamin and mineral supplements may be doing some people more harm than good. Two recent studies are questioning the long-term safety of multivitamins for older women and vitamin E supplements for men, and show the need for more research on this important subject.
Supplements are needed by people with vitamin or mineral deficiencies. But many healthy people take supplements to prevent chronic disease — a benefit that hasn’t been scientifically established or has proved inconsistent at best.
It’s best to get your supplements from the food you eat
While it is considered best to try to get your recommended dietary allowances of vitamins and minerals from food, the American Dietetic Association and the National Institutes of Health say there are some of us who may need help.
You may need supplements if you are:
Over age 50. You may need vitamin B12 and calcium supplements, commonly low in older adults, and vitamin D,which is harder for skin to synthesize from sunlight as we age.
A postmenopausal woman. You may need extra calcium and vitamin D supplements to keep your bones strong.
Dark skinned or have limited sun exposure (less than 15 minutes a day). You may not be getting enough vitamin D supplements from the sun alone.
Frail or elderly and unable to eat sufficient amounts of food. A poor appetite or illness may prevent you from getting essential nutrients from supplements.
Suffering from nutritional deficiencies from a restricted diet. If you have a food allergy, are a vegan or have undergone weight-loss surgery, for example, you may not be able to get all your nutrients from food supplements.
Suffering from a medical condition. Some illnesses, such as cancer, anemia and celiac disease, cause nutritional deficiencies and require therapeutic doses of supplements.
Undergoing medical treatment. Some medicines, such as cancer drugs and proton pump inhibitors, can interfere with nutrient supplements absorption or use.
Diagnosed with a chronic illness for which supplements are part of treatment. People with agerelated macular degeneration, for example, may benefit from high doses of certain vitamins and minerals to slow vision loss.
A word of caution. Be cautious about the supplements you take and why you’re taking them. Don’t take supplements before consulting with your doctor or a dietitian for guidance. He or she can identify any nutritional gaps you may have and make recommendations about what is best for you.