Vitamins can’t replace healthy eating

picjumbo.com_HNCK5688We make decisions every day about the food we eat to fuel our body. Sometimes we look for short-cut solutions and think it will make a difference in our overall health.

Although there are some beneficial vitamins that can supplement a healthy diet, it is no substitute for the food we eat.

Most of what our body needs can come from well-balanced meat, dairy, grains and fruits and vegetables.

“Most vitamins can come from a healthy and well-rounded diet,” says Baylor Scott & White Health family physician Kathryn Greiner, MD. “That being said, different age groups have different needs that typically do need to be supplemented with a multivitamin.”

Some people that may benefit from a multivitamin include:

  1. Women of childbearing age

These women need to take a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid. Dr. Greiner says this is because folic acid helps the baby’s spinal cord form correctly and this often happens before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

  1. Women who are post-menopausal

Women in this stage can take a daily calcium-vitamin D3 to help prevent osteoporosis and bone breakdown.

  1. Most kids

Children can take a daily multivitamin, especially one that contains iron and vitamin D. Be sure to check the labels, as some gummy vitamins do not contain iron.

Dr. Greiner warns, “Be cautious though and remember that parents should have vitamins out of reach of children and give them to their child as kids can mistake them for candy and take too much.”

  1. People feeling fatigued

Dr. Greiner told KAGS TV some patients feeling fatigue may have low vitamin D levels. Natural ways to increase your vitamin D is from the sun or milk, but you can also take a multivitamin. However, because it is a fat soluble vitamin, it may store up in your liver and your kidneys.

“Vitamin D deficiency can often be associated with poor control of asthma and many people will feel very fatigued if their level is quite low,” says Dr. Greiner.

Dr. Greiner says she may take an occasional vitamin if she feels her levels are getting low, but also adjusts her diet.

“I have found that eating a more plant and protein-based diet and less processed foods has also made a huge difference in my energy levels,” says Dr. Greiner. “This is essentially the same thing as taking a multivitamin”

For more information about where you can get your vitamins, take a look at the vitamin wheel.


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This content has been written or reviewed by a member of the Baylor Scott & White Health medical staff.

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Vitamins can’t replace healthy eating