Vitamins, Minerals & Nutritional Supplements (cont.)

The Calcium Connection

Calcium is also the super-nutrient for keeping bones and teeth strong and preventing osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium are dairy foods, though it's also found in

  • dark leafy greens and


  • fortified products like cereal and orange juice.

Food or Pills?

Supplements are not the secret weapon to better health, nor can they make up for a poor diet. While vitamin and mineral pills can help round out a healthy diet, they cannot take the place of the many nutrients and fiber found in whole foods.

At the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, we recommend taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement for nutritional "insurance." Depending on your food choices, even the best eating plans can fall short of meeting all your nutritional needs. Taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement is safe and may offer additional health benefits. According to a study published in the August 2003 Journal of Nutrition, a daily multivitamin can reduce your risk of having a first heart attack. Other studies have suggested that daily supplements can help maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

But remember that more is not always better: When you are choosing your daily multivitamin/mineral, make sure it contains no more than 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for any nutrient.

It's a much better idea to get your nutrients from food and take a simple vitamin/mineral supplement once per day -- unless your physician recommends otherwise. (Keep in mind that that certain health conditions, such as pregnancy, call for specific supplements, so check with your doctor if you have health issues.)