In a world where supplements are as plentiful as the medical conditions they claim to ease, is it necessary for the average person to take a vitamin and supplements?
The sweet, stick-in-your teeth vitamins that were given to most Gen X’ers and Y’ers as youngsters were to be taken daily to promote good health. The small character-shaped crumbly delights weren’t the worst way to start off a morning, but the idea of taking a daily multivitamin or supplement left a bad taste in some mouths.
Nowadays, you can add fiber to your water, buy water with extra vitamins and take a vitamin that eases arthritis while promoting healthy digestion. In a world where supplements are as plentiful as the medical conditions they claim to ease, is it necessary for the average person to take a vitamin and supplements?
“I 100 percent recommend a daily vitamin,” said Renee Bordeaux, a registered dietitian in private practice and at Club Fitness in Colchester. “There are two types, multivitamin multimineral, and just plain multivitamins on their own. If you’re a woman and menstruating, you should be taking the multivitamin multimineral, because of the iron content.”
Bordeaux said while a balanced diet should provide individuals with all the nutrients they need, when freshness of food can’t be guaranteed, it’s a better bet to take a vitamin to ensure nutritional needs are being met.
“My motto is typically ‘food first,’” she said. “And the word ‘supplement’ means just that. It’s not to supplant or replace what you’re not getting. A pill is not going to fix a bad diet.”
When Erica Pelish-Sundstrom of Jewett City was pregnant, she was sure to take a multivitamin every day. Years later, Sundstrom’s two children are faithful vitamin-takers, but she’s let her regimen slip.
“It’s different when you have a responsibility for another life, and you’re so conscious of doing everything you can,” she said. “They’re there, I just forget.”
Rebbecca Tindall, owner of the Ginger Root health-food store in Norwich, said people who purchase supplements and vitamins from her store are often looking to offset food that isn’t nutritionally sound or organic.
Tindall said taking supplements such as flaxseed oil or peanut oil is like eating any other kind of food.
“The pills are so tiny, but when you look it up to see what’s in it, it’s incredible how many nutrients are in there,” she said. “Even people who eat well-balanced diets come in to get supplements of some form, because there’s so much outside stress and so many more people getting sick that they want to protect themselves and make sure they have what they need.”
When shopping for supplements or vitamins, Tindall said, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re not buying anything with preservatives or added color, which can negate the health benefits of the pills.
Gregory Kane, a professor of health and physical education at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, said he’s held panel discussions on nutritional supplementation and has heard all the pros and cons of taking dietary supplements.
Though no link has been proven between good dietary health and taking vitamins in people with well-balanced diets, Kane said, even many health experts will admit to taking them, and it’s a topic that public consistently questions.
“One answer (given at a panel discussion) was that it is quite difficult for people to maintain a well-balanced diet, even for an expert in nutrition. A second answer given (at a panel discussion) was, sometimes in research, we cannot prove that a relationship exists, yet we know it is likely there is a relationship. I chose to take the third expert’s advice,” Kane said. “That is, to take a multivitamin occasionally, when I can remember to ‘cover my bases,’ so to speak.”
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