The standard American diet (SAD) does not provide the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy life. Who eats more than five servings of fruits and vegetables in a day? Vitamins are like an insurance policy. If you can’t eat a balanced diet, a good multivitamin is helpful.
Anybody who lives at 35 degrees latitude or above should also take Vitamin D. The angle of the sun is such that you aren’t going to make any Vitamin D from October to April. Also, because some of our fish is contaminated with mercury it’s difficult to get enough omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti inflammatory, just from eating fish. A good mercury free fish or krill oil is beneficial.
Even though vitamins can fill in gaps, they really should not be used as our regular source of nutritional micronutrients solely. We used to think vitamins and minerals could cover all our bases and provide all the benefits missing in our diet. However, vitamins do not contain a crucial element in plants called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients protect us against disease. They’re thought to be present in higher amounts in foods untouched by pesticide and grown locally vs. picked when they’re green so they can make the trip from Chile and sit on the shelf for two weeks. Eating organic and eating locally isn’t just trendy, it’s scientifically better for you.
Not all vitamin supplements are created equal either. They’re not monitored by the FDA because they aren’t foods and aren’t drugs. A vitamin labeled 250 mg of vitamin C might or might not have 250 mg. It could have 5 mg. And it’s perfectly legal.
Look for the label USP or GMP to indicate that the supplement company has kept themselves to higher standards. That way you know what you are paying for!