One-third of Americans take some variety of a vitamin supplement or multivitamin daily, with seventy percent of this amount comprised of individuals aged sixty-five and older. There are two conflicting views when it comes to consuming a daily vitamin. One side of the story believes vitamin supplements can reduce a patient’s risk for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's and can fill the gaps in nutrition a majority of individuals lack. The other side of the argument criticizes vitamin supplements and claims they are mostly a ‘placebo effect,’ that does not contribute any nutritional value to the body. The big question remains: are vitamin supplements truly worth it and how do they affect the body?
What Is A Vitamin Supplement?
The term vitamin or multivitamin refers to the chemical compounds with the word ‘vitamin’ in front, such as Vitamin A, B12, C, D, but also other elements such as calcium, potassium, and iron, as well as a multivitamin, which is comprised of multiple nutrients the body needs. There is no denying that prolonged deficiency of specific vitamins and minerals can lead to illness and disease; however, the real question is whether healthy individuals truly need to take vitamin supplements. If the patient eats a diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains, there is an excellent chance they already reach their suggested daily intake of certain vitamins.
Even if the patient does not have a balanced diet of healthy foods, many processed foods today are fortified with numerous vitamins and minerals as well. If the patient is taking vitamin supplements in addition to eating a balanced diet, they may be achieving vitamin levels extraordinarily higher than what the Federal Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health recommend.