When it comes to maintaining good health, many people are faced with the dilemma of whether to take vitamins or supplements. While both can be beneficial, research shows that vitamins found in food sources are generally easier to absorb and offer more benefits than those found in supplement form. Additionally, taking megadoses of certain vitamins or single-nutrient supplements can have negative effects, while multivitamins taken at the recommended dietary level can help lower blood pressure and provide other health benefits. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, the body needs them in the right amounts and in the right context.
For instance, provitamin A (beta-carotene) found in foods is accompanied by hundreds of its carotenoid relatives. Therefore, while needing to take a vitamin likely means that you're interested in living a healthy lifestyle, a vitamin supplement alone may not help you lead that lifestyle. In addition to providing essential nutrients, taking a multivitamin or other vitamin or mineral supplement can also help people with less specific health problems meet their daily nutritional requirements. However, it's important to note that some complementary medications, such as vitamin and mineral supplements, can interact with prescription drugs and medical treatments.
Half of American adults take a multivitamin or other vitamin or mineral supplement on a regular basis. While this can be beneficial for some people, it's important to remember that feeling under pressure doesn't automatically lead to a vitamin deficiency, so taking a vitamin supplement won't necessarily make feelings of stress go away. Overall, eating healthy offers far greater benefits than opting for supplements and eating poorly. For those who do need to take a supplement, it's best to take multivitamins at the recommended dietary level, rather than single-nutrient supplements or high-dose multivitamins.