Vitamin and mineral supplements can harm or help

August 26, 2008 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Vitamin and mineral supplements can harm or help

Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can improve a person's nutritional status, however many people are confused about how much is enough and how much is too much.

To quell these concerns, Dietitians of Canada (DC) has reviewed the current literature on the benefits - and consequences - of supplementing with vitamins (like vitamin D) or minerals (like calcium).

Vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended for women in their child-bearing years, pregnant women, children, vegetarians, older adults, athletes, people on certain medications, and people on restricted diets. These people may have trouble eating the right amount of foods that supply them with important nutrients like folic acid, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12.  

Dietitians know that vitamin and mineral supplements can be both helpful and harmful when it comes to nutrient deficiencies and disease prevention. When taking a supplement, more is not always better - particularly if the product contains only one or two nutrients.

For instance, taking supplemental folic acid or vitamin E has been shown to both decrease or increase risk of certain diseases depending on the individual and the dosing regime.

 "For those people for whom vitamin and mineral supplements are needed, we want to assure them that the benefit out-weighs the risk," says a DC spokeswoman about this new report.

Eating a balance diet that's high in vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean sources of protein is the best way to ensure that you're getting the  vitamins and minerals you need.

If you're not sure if you're diet is providing enough of the nutrients you need, consider consulting a registered dietitian who can assess your nutrient intake and recommend a supplement that's right for you.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.