Americans spend billions of dollars each year on dietary supplements, but there’s some debate as to whether such pills, capsules and powders offer any true nutritional benefit. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than half of the nation’s adults take supplements, most in the form of a daily multivitamin.
There are 13 vitamins your body absolutely needs to function, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate). But are nutritional supplements necessary? Tarini Anand, M.D., an internal medicine doctor with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says most adults with a balanced diet don’t need to take dietary supplements.
“A variety of natural foods, rather than supplements, is the best source for getting all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need to stay healthy,” Dr. Anand says. “Vitamins are by no means a substitute for healthy eating.”
Eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, legumes, fish, whole grains and dairy should be enough to keep your vitamin balances in check. Focusing on consuming nutrition superfoods can also help boost your diet. In addition, getting a little sunshine each day ensures you get enough vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption and bone health.