A study of 3 million people revealed that less than 1% of the participants got enough essential vitamins from diet alone.
10 Reasons you may need vitamins and/or supplements:
- You skip meals. Skipping meals won’t affect your nutrition if, over the course of each day, you get enough calories and nutrients to meet your daily requirements. What does your body require? Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov to develop a personalized plan and see if you’re falling short.
- You eat few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The USDA guidelines emphasize the importance of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to meet nutritional needs, as well as fiber requirements. If you are low on these food groups, you should probably take a multivitamin, but also consider improving your diet.
- You eat a low-calorie diet. You might not be getting enough nutrients if you’re severely restricting calories. Make sure that the foods you do eat are nutrient-dense. You might also want to take a multi-vitamin to supplement across the board.
- You’re a vegetarian. Generally, vegetarians eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and have lower-fat diets. But you may be missing out on calcium, especially if you also avoid dairy products. Vegans, who give up all animal products including milk and eggs, may also need vitamin B12 supplements.
- You can’t/don’t drink milk. Even though low-fat dairy is a cornerstone of nutrition recommendations, drinking milk is difficult for people with lactose intolerance. If you can’t (or just don’t) drink milk, you can find other dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D, such as yogurt, cheese, non-dairy “milks”, calcium-fortified orange juice or tofu, and dark, leafy green vegetables. You might also consider a calcium and vitamin D supplement if you’re falling short of your needs.
- You have limited exposure to sunlight. The body needs sunlight to develop vitamin D on its own, and people who have limited sun exposure or who are dark-skinned are less likely to have sufficient vitamin D levels. You can correct this imbalance by getting your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D through food or vitamin D supplements.
- You’ve had weight loss surgery. Changes in the intestinal tract from weight-loss surgery make it virtually impossible to absorb sufficient proteins, vitamins, and minerals from food. Check with your doctor to see which supplements you should be taking.
- You’re entering a new phase of life. For instance, women have a greater need for folic acid, iron and calcium during pregnancy or calcium and vitamin D after menopause.
- You’re busy. Whey protein can be useful for people with a very busy, on-the-go lifestyle as a supplement to their normal diet.
- You want to boost your immunity. Find out how probiotics can help build muscle and strengthen your immune system here.