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Are vitamins and supplements necessary to eat healthy?
There are a lot of vitamins sold today. They come in all forms – pills, capsules, packets of pills and supplement drinks. We now have more and more good research that says they are pretty much worthless. We know that vitamins are good for you, but the research is now clear that getting your vitamins from food and not supplements is better for you.

Can I substitute vitamins for vegetables in my diet?
I have been taking 'multi-vitamins and minerals' tablets, which contain 100% DRA of many vitamins , e.g. Vintamin C, Iron, etc. does that mean that i don't need to take in any vegies and will it do any harm to me if i took the tablet and Orange Juice which might give me over 200% of DRA?

Best way to get your vitamins? Eat them.
Certainly there are times when it's a good idea to take extra vitamins or other supplements, but these are limited to people in pretty specific populations: for example, during pregnancy, if you are a woman of childbearing age, or if you are following a vegan diet. However, in our well-fed Western culture it's pretty rare to really need to take vitamins.


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Vitamin Supplements and Mental Function in the Elderly

There's been a few conflicting studies regarding vitamin supplementation in the elderly and its effects on mental function. They've been pretty narrowly focused, however: some studies supplemented with only B vitamins, while others focused on antioxidants.

A recent study in Scotland ( ) spread the net much wider by using a supplement containing 11 vitamins and 5 minerals. Over 900 men and women over 65 were randomly assigned to receive either the supplement or a placebo daily for 12 months. The participants' mental status was assessed at the beginning and the end of the study using two standard tests.

Unfortunately, there was no significant difference between the supplemented group and those who received the placebo. Only those over 75 and those who were already nutritionally deficient showed any positive effects, but those were small.

What this means for you

Vitamin supplements are no substitute for healthy eating. Here are some related articles on the effect of eating healthy on your brain:

Eat Fish, Eat Well, Think Better
Mediterranean Diet and Alzheimer's Disease
Avoid Alzheimer's - drink your juice!

First posted: June 20, 2007