For many of us, it's part of our daily routine: pour your morning coffee, check the news, pop a multivitamin. But are those pills — or any other vitamin or mineral supplement — actually doing anything?
Yes and no, say the experts at Methodist Health System. Most generally healthy people who are eating a fairly balanced diet do not actually need supplements, but that hasn't stopped it from being a $30 billion a year industry. The Journal of Nutrition surveyed almost 3,500 adults ages 60 and older in 2017, and found that 70 percent use a daily supplement (either a multivitamin or individual vitamin or mineral), 54 percent take one or two supplements, and 29 percent take four or more.
That's because there's a placebo effect, and if swallowing a pill or two every morning leads people to pay more attention to their health and diets, then most doctors will be all for it.
But there are some things to keep in mind before arming yourself with an arsenal of Vitamin A. Discuss your needs and concerns with your doctor, and they might end up prescribing certain supplements if you are:
- Not consuming a wide variety of nutrient rich foods
- Following a restrictive diet less than 1,600 calories per day
- Eliminating entire food group, such as vegans or vegetarians
- Over the age of 50
- Have a certain medical condition
One of the greatest issues with supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA, so it's extra important to get your doctor's opinion before incorporating any into your everyday consumption.
Need help finding a primary care physician (PCP)? Start with your insurance carrier's website, then narrow down the list with your own criteria (education, certifications, proximity to your work or home, etc.), before calling to see who is accepting new patients.