Do You Know Nutrition: Vitamins important part of good health

By Phylis Canion
Feb. 14, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 13, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

I have some vitamin questions. Is it better to take a variety of vitamins each day or a daily supplement? Can certain illnesses put a strain on the body and deplete it of vitamins and minerals? Why is it that some daily vitamins recommend just taking one daily while others recommend anywhere from four to six vitamins daily? Any clarification? I am sure it will not only help me, but many others.

Multivitamins are a combination of many different vitamins and minerals that are normally found in foods and other natural sources. Because our food supply is so altered, artificial, genetically modified and over processed, our diet needs some assistance.

While vitamins are not a substitute for a healthy diet, they are an important part of good health. Not only are our nutritional needs different from each other, they are different each and every day.

While severe deficiencies of vitamins and minerals may be somewhat rare, slight deficiencies are very common.

Vitamin B-12 is a common deficiency in those over 60 years old. Calcium, chromium, iodine, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc are frequent deficiencies among all ages.

One of the fundamental facts about vitamins is that prescriptions, illness, pregnancy, poor nutrition, digestive disorders and many other conditions interfere with the body's absorption, use or storage of vitamins and therefore deprive the body of their benefits.

Just a simple deficiency of only one vitamin can disrupt the entire balance of the body.

Therefore, it is better to take a multivitamin over a variety of single vitamins, since good multivitamins are formulated with a precise balance that work in conjunction with each other (I recommend a multivitamin without iron since it can interfere with other vitamin absorption).

Taking a handful of single vitamins can lead to undesired dosing of some vitamins and deficiencies of other vitamins.

Because the body performs different functions at different times of the day, taking a multivitamin that recommends one to two at breakfast and at lunch (vitamins are best ingested with food) is more accommodating to the body's needs throughout the day.

Taking a multivitamin with water is also more beneficial and will be absorbed better than if taken with caffeine or juice.

As I always recommend, it is important to share your vitamin supplementation with your primary healthcare professional.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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