Vitamins and minerals are essential to any diet. If you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fortified food, you’re probably getting all you need and don’t need supplements unless a physician advises otherwise.
- Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and green peppers.
- An antioxidant.
- Converted to vitamin A and is important for healthy vision, a functioning immune system, and good skin.
- A 2004 study found that supplements may actually raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
Skip the supplements if you’re a smoker, and try to get your beta-carotene from fruits and veggies, whether you smoke or not.
- Found in dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Used to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.
- Best paired with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption
Skip supplements if you’re prone to kidney stones or are a female over 70 (a 2010 report linked calcium supplements to heart-attack risk in older postmenopausal women).
- Prevents spina bifida in babies.
- Found in fortified breakfast cereal, dark green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruit juice, bread, and pasta.
Getting 800 micrograms a day of this if you are pregnant or lactating is advised.
- Critical for the proper functioning of red blood cells — helpls prevents anemia.
Try to get iron from dietary sources, which also include lean meats, seafood, nuts, and green, leafy vegetables.
You may may need a supplement if you’re anemic.
- Not proven for much benefit if your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Can even out irregular heart rhythms, and counteract the effects of too much sodium.
- Found in bananas, raisins, leafy greens, oranges, and milk.
Consider a supplement if you’re taking diuretics for a heart condition – but only at a doctor’s discretion, as too much potassium can be harmful to people with kidney disease
- Found in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, and green peppers
- Not proven to prevent the common cold, though one study suggested that taking vitamin C regularly might reduce the length of a cold by a day.
Not great evidence suggesting increasing your intake will combat sniffling and coughing.
- Helps the body absorb calcium; necessary for bone health.
- Mostly accessible through sun exposure.
- Too little vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.
Supplements may benefit if you don’t have much sun exposure, are over 50, or have dark skin.
- Found in safflower oril, peanuts, eggs, fortified cereals, fruits, and green, leafy vegetables.
- Not noted to prevent cancer or lower the risk of heart attack or stroke in middle-aged and older women.