Following all the latest news on vitamins could be a full-time job. Actually, what the average consumer needs to know about vitamins is surprisingly straightforward.
By: Everyday Health
By Diane Stresing
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
New studies and claims about vitamins are published daily, and many seem to contradict each other. What does an average consumer really need to know about vitamins?
“The fairly simple answer is, not much,” says Paul Thomas, EdD, RD, scientific consultant with the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Almost everyone can benefit from taking a supplement with calcium because most people don’t get as much as they need through their diets — 1,000 mg a day for adults, increasing to 1,200 mg after age 50. Thomas notes that some vitamins become especially important at certain times in a person’s life. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should be certain to get enough folate, or folic acid, a B-complex vitamin — 600 units a day, rather than 400. And as you age, you should probably take a daily supplement to get additional B12, he suggests.
“You don’t have to become an expert or learn all the intricacies of all the vitamins — because you can't,” adds Dr. Thomas. There’s simply too much information to try to remember.
What you need to do is eat a healthy diet, selecting recommended foods based on the USDA guidelines. Because few of us consistently eat a well-balanced diet, Thomas says taking an over-the-counter multivitamin, even a store brand, is a good idea. “It’s sort of like an insurance policy that covers all your bases,” he explains.
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