Do You Know What’s In Your Multivitamin?

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe they are very knowledgeable or somewhat knowledgeable about multivitamins, according to a survey released by the not-for-profit National Women’s Health Resource Center. However, many do not know which vitamins and minerals are essential for the body, or which vitamins and minerals are responsible for specific functions in the body.

ABCs of Nutrition: You know less than you think

When asked which vitamin or mineral is essential for calcium absorption in the body, more than a third of those surveyed said they were not sure. (The answer is Vitamin D.) And most surprisingly, when asked to identify vitamins and minerals that are not essential, only 44% correctly recognized that arsenic – a poison! – is not an essential nutrient.

In fact, about a quarter of Americans (24%) believe they get the vitamins and minerals they need through diet alone. And although 51% of the individuals surveyed said they take a multivitamin, most of them do not know which vitamins and minerals are essential for their bodies.

Multivitamins – Yay or Nay?

“It depends,” experts said. We reported that a National Institutes of Health panel of experts released a statement about multivitamins on May 17, 2006. The experts concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a recommendation either for or against taking multivitamins, leaving many of us puzzled.

Bottom Line

In some individuals, like pregnant and lactating women and even those who have a chronic disease, it may be beneficial to take a multivitamin every day.

For safety reasons, be sure to choose a multivitamin that is specific to your age and gender. And be sure to consult with yoru dietitian or doctor prior to taking a new supplement.


food safety, multivitamins


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