Do you really need vitamin and mineral supplements? It is true that human bodies cannot function without adequate amounts of protein, vegetable fats, and carbohydrates (sugars and starches), vitamins, and minerals. But, until recently, most public health agencies and medical organizations advised consumers that multi-vitamin supplements were unnecessary. They told people it was easy to get enough vitamins and minerals by eating a well-balanced diet, high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and nutrient-dense whole grains. However, research has revealed two glaring practical problems with this well-meant advice:
Almost no one eats the kind of balanced, plant-rich diet needed to meet the minimal requirements for key vitamins and minerals — much less the optimal intake levels many experts recommend. In the most recent USDA survey, more than 80 percent of women and more than 70 percent of men consumed less than two-thirds of the RDA for one or more nutrients. Why is this?
While there is no clear evidence that daily multivitamin supplements extend the life span of healthy persons, there is considerable evidence that they can reduce the risks of specific diseases — thereby increasing the length of their "health span." It is near impossible, for example to get enough vitamin E from foods to confer extra protection against heart disease.
Because vitamins and minerals are not evenly distributed among foods, people need to eat a well-balanced diet. However, few people eat a varied, plant-rich diet. And, modern farming techniques drain the soil of nutrients, making fruits and vegetables less nutritious