Should You Take Vitamins?

June 27, 2011

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A recent study found that almost half of Americans take a multivitamin of some kind every day. Do you? Should you?


In general, when one is cutting calories it can be difficult to get everything your body needs from the food you eat, even if you’re eating a low-calorie diet made up of wholesome, nutritious foods.

For this reason, I do recommend my patients take a regular multivitamin every day. Doing so ensures that they won’t be missing out on any trace vitamins and minerals their bodies need.

However, it’s important that any vitamin one takes is a high quality one made by a reputable company. Ask your doctor to recommend one. Prescription prenatal vitamins are a good option even when one isn’t pregnant because these vitamins are screened by the FDA and do contain what the label claims in the correct amounts.

Be wary of vitamins that contain many times more the amount of the RDA recommendations, or ones that claim to aid in weight loss or have added herbal components. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to vitamins, and if you take other over-the-counter or prescription medications, it’s especially important to avoid herbal ingredients that could negatively interact with your other medications.

Like other supplements, vitamins fall outside of the regulatory system the FDA has for prescription medications, which means some vitamins may not contain what they claim to, or the binder and other ingredients used in the pills may not dissolve in your digestive tract easily, meaning the vitamins “pass” right through without being absorbed.

At the Center for Medical Weight Loss, we give some of our patients vitamin shots. Unlike a pill, the injected vitamins and minerals go straight into the bloodstream where we know for sure they are readily absorbed. This is another option for some, especially those on a very low-calorie diet.

And finally, don’t be fooled into thinking a vitamin pill can make up for what a poor diet misses. It’s always better for vitamins and minerals to come in the form of food whenever possible. Likewise, foods contain many other compounds a healthy body needs as well.

So in short, aim to eat a high-quality, low-calorie diet filled with fresh whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins, and then back that up with a daily multivitamin to be sure you aren’t missing anything. Doing so will provide the best odds that you are getting all of the nutrition your body needs while losing weight and for the long term.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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