Multivitamins can’t take the place of eating a variety of healthy foods. Foods provide fiber and other important ingredients for good health. But people who don’t get enough vitamins and minerals from food alone, who are on low-calorie diets or who avoid certain foods (such as strict vegetarians/vegans) might consider taking a multivitamin. Healthcare providers might also recommend multivitamins to patients with certain medical conditions.
Some people might benefit from taking certain nutrients found in multivitamins. For example:
- Women who might become pregnant should get 400 mcg/day of folic acid from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine in their newborn babies.
- Pregnant women should take an iron supplement as recommended by their healthcare provider. A prenatal multivitamin is likely to provide iron.
- In postmenopausal women, calcium and vitamin D supplements may increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures.
- People over age 50 should get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements because they might not absorb enough of the B12 that is naturally found in food.
Talk with your healthcare provider about whether a multivitamin is right for you.
Source: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements