Do You Really Need To Take Vitamins?

Do You Really Need to Take Vitamins?

We've been downing vitamins since we were Flintstones Kids, so it's no surprise that 30 percent of Millennial women take a multi. But research on supplements show that, although a few do make you healthier, many are a waste of money or, worse, actually dangerous. The FDA doesn't limit the dosages or evaluate the safety of ingredients before they're sold — crazy right? — so we cut through the hype and went straight to the experts to see if downing the pills is a good idea.


OK TO KEEP TAKING

VITAMIN D

It’s crucial for bone health, immunity, fighting inflammation, even easing depression ... yet few foods have vitamin D naturally (two that do: fatty fish and egg yolks). Many dairy products are fortified with D, but you’d need six cups of milk a day to get the right dose.


Ask your doc to test you for deficiency. “Up to 50 percent of Americans are at suboptimal levels,” says Donald Hens-rud, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Pro-gram. Getting your D from sunshine raises your risk for cancer (and wrinkles),so a supplement is smart — start with 600 IU.


CALCIUM

Take if you don’t eat dairy daily, since that’s the main source of the nutrient (one cup of milk has 300 milligrams; one cup of raw kale, just 55 milligrams). Lactose avoiders should take a 1,000-milligram supplement, says Kimberly Robien, PhD, an associate professor at George Washington University: “One with vitamin D will help your body absorb the calcium.”


PRENATAL VITAMIN

Take if you’re pregnant or wanting to be. Begin popping them a few days before you start trying. “Folic acid, the ingredient in prenatal vitamins that helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida, is crucial in the first few days after conception,” says Robien. Up to 60 percent of the population can’t absorb folic acid properly, so look for brands containing L--methylfolate.


B12

Take iff you’re vegan. According to Dr. Hensrud, people following a plants -only diet won’t get any B12 in their meals. Reach your recommended dose of 2.4 micrograms through a supplement or fortified foods.