Multivitamins — Are they the best thing for you?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multivitamins/NU00651
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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March 6, 2008
Multivitamins — Are they the best thing for you?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Do you take a multivitamin? Or a single vitamin, mineral, or combination supplement? If so, you are in the company of tens of millions of U.S. adults.
Why do you take them? Most people say it makes them feel healthier or they believe it will prevent chronic diseases, or colds and flu. But you may be surprised to know that what is in your bottle and on the label is not strictly regulated. And there is no system in place to collect reports of adverse affects.
Over the past few years there has been increasing evidence that multivitamins and single or combination type vitamin/mineral supplements may not provide the health benefit sought by you, the consumer. In some cases the opposite or no beneficial effects have been reported.
Alarming to think that vitamin or mineral supplements could actually cause more harm than good. An example of this is the use of beta carotene by smokers actually increased the incidence of lung cancer. This is echoed by a recent study out of the University of Washington that reports the use of multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate did not reduce the risk of lung cancer.
It is not all bad news though; there are studies to support the use of folate (folic acid) prior to and during pregnancy in the prevention of neural tube defects in the developing fetus. And history has proven that vitamins and minerals play a critical role in our health — the reason we know about the benefits of vitamins and minerals in food is because of the major discoveries in disease prevention such as vitamin C and scurvy and thiamine, a B vitamin, and beri beri (a wasting type disease).
This may leave you wondering if those vitamin mineral supplements in your medicine cabinet are doing what they should or even worth your money.
Let's look at this way — do you eat a well balanced diet? If so, you may not need a multivitamin and if you take one as a "safety net" know that you may exceed what your body needs or can use.
Are you concerned about a chronic disease? If so, making changes in your diet and exercise habits, not smoking and following through with recommended screenings by your physician are more likely to benefit your overall health picture.
Consider your current state of health, talk to your doctor and/or dietitian, and weigh the possible benefits and risks of a multivitamin and mineral supplement for you.
To your health,