When it comes to your daily vitamin intake, Dr. Janeta Szczepanik of Brown Square Health Center says opt for healthy foods over pills.
“Vitamins are essential micronutrients,” said Dr. Szczepanik. “We are unable to make them in our bodies. So how we get them is through our diet. With the exception of Vitamin D, we can actually get that through sun exposure. And so vitamins are needed for normal growth and nutrition. And if we develop a vitamin deficiency, then we can run into some health problems.”
Dr. Szczepanik said multivitamin supplements won’t necessarily make us healthier. “If you have access to Vitamin D, fortified dairy products, then no, multivitamins are not suggested, unless you’re at high risk for deficiency. But really, the best way to get our vitamins is through food versus pill form.”
When it comes to who should take vitamin supplements, Dr. Szczepanik said there are certain groups that come to mind. “Those who are planning to get pregnant or who are pregnant, should be taking Folic Acid to prevent birth defects,” she said. “Also older adults who are at risk for falls should be taking Vitamin D, and even vegetarians. They are at risk for a Vitamin B12 deficiency because they are not getting any animal products. There are also other groups that come to mind like those who suffer from alcoholism or malabsorption. They are also at risk for vitamins, but they should talk to their doctor to see what vitamins they need.”
Dr. Szczepanik said there are safety concerns when it comes to vitamins in pill form. “If you take anything too much, you’re at risk for some harmful issues,” she noted. “For example, if you’re taking Vitamin C at high doses you can develop kidney stones. But there are actually two vitamins that we recommend against taking at regular doses individually. They include Vitamin A – there are a lot of risks with that, which include osteoporosis – and Vitamin E which as been found to increase bleeding in patients. So really, you should talk to your doctor if you want to know what vitamin supplementations are right for you.”
When it comes to vitamins, food is better, but if you’re going to take vitamins in pill form, Dr. Szczepanik said consult a professional before you make that decision.