Nutritional Supplements: Taking Too Many Vitamins? (cont.)

For a small fee, a nutritionist can evaluate your diet for deficiencies. Also, some online programs provide the same service.

"People are often very surprised when they see the nutrients they are getting and what they're not," says Rosenbloom. "Maybe they need a calcium supplement, maybe your vitamin C is low if you don't eat any citrus."

Won't Prevent the Inevitable

Blumberg's prudent advice: "Take a multivitamin. Take a calcium supplement, if you don't drink much milk. If you're taking medicine that interferes with nutrient absorption, if you're an older person whose calorie intake is low, if you're an athlete, if you're pregnant -- all of those are good reasons to take a multivitamin supplement."

Just stay away from those whopper-sized, 25,000 milligrams vitamin A pills, he says.

"By and large, nutrient supplements -- vitamins, minerals -- are enormously safe," Blumberg says. "Even if you drink a gallon of OJ a day, eat fruits and vegetables, then take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, you're not going to even get close to toxicity."

Originally published June 19, 2003
Medically updated August 2005

SOURCES: Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition, Tufts University, Boston. Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition, Georgia State University, Atlanta. National Institutes of Health web site.

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