Herbs for Health: The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Find out which vitamins you need more of.

| September/October 1998

You're eating a balanced diet, taking note of the food groups and the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). But you’re still wondering: Do you need vitamin and mineral supplements? Yes, you do, says Louis Tobian, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota scientist who has spent years studying diet and its relationship to heart disease and blood pressure.

“If you’re living in the real world—with people eating out more and so forth—it’s really hard to eat a perfect diet,” Tobian says. “Take a multivitamin a day,” he says, and if you take a good one, that might be all the supplementation you need.

Mary Ellen Camire, associate professor of food science at the University of Maine, says that a lot of people use multivitamins as a safety net, “in case they have a bad day and eat a lot of junk food.”

“Americans like a quick fix,” she says. “The multivitamins provide this.”

But, she says, “recommended intakes are for the whole population,” and depending on age or health, “you may need more or less.”

Which vitamins are for you?

Determining what nutrients to take “depends on the individual,” Camire says. For example, some people staying out of the sun may need supplemental vitamin D.

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