Should I be Taking a Vitamin?

Here in the 21st century, we are inundated with health advice. From television ads, to billboards, to magazines, everyone seems to have an opinion on what is best for your body.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are becoming more popular among the public, making it pretty confusing when it comes to our health. You may ask yourself, should I be taking a vitamin? I have been tired lately, maybe I am deficient? So, should I be taking five vitamins? I am here to give you some quick and easy advice to determine whether or not you should be taking a supplement.

Ask yourself the following questions before heading to your nearest drugstore to buy a supplement.

  1. How colorful is your plate? When most people think of vitamins and minerals, they think of pills, but they are most abundant in our food, especially nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  2. Do you eat a lot of fortified foods? To prevent deficiencies in certain nutrients, flour started being enriched in the 1940s with the vitamins: niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, and folate, and the mineral: iron. Additionally, other foods are fortified with vitamins and minerals for the same reason. Milk and orange juice are two examples of commonly fortified foods with vitamin D.
  3. Do you have an allergy or follow a restricted diet? Those who follow vegan or vegetarian dietary patterns, as well as people on keto or paleo diets (or other “fad diets”) are at a higher risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Additionally, if you have an allergy, you may also want to consider a supplement.

Generally speaking, if you are a healthy individual who eats a varied diet, chances are you do not need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement. If you think you may be in need of one, speak to your primary health care provider to discuss your options.

By Grace Stott, UNH Masters Student and UVAC Nutrition Intern

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