If you could take a vitamin for everything you need, would you? Before you answer, check out these myths and facts about multivitamins!

Myth: If you have nutrition deficiencies, a multivitamin will provide all the missing nutrients.

Fact: Although multivitamins can help supplement certain deficiencies, it is not possible to get all the benefits of eating a healthy diet simply by swallowing a daily pill. Experts agree that while you may be able to complement healthy eating habits, you should not rely on multivitamins as a replacement for eating nutritionally rich foods.

It is not possible to get all the benefits of eating a healthy diet simply by swallowing a daily pill.

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Myth: It can’t hurt if you take more of a supplement than you actually need.

Fact: Too much of some pill-based vitamins and minerals can come with unexpected or dangerous side effects. And that is true both for the quantity of pills as well as for their composition. Indeed, one study has shown that taking certain antioxidant pills that contain too much vitamin E can actually promote cancer.

Myth: Getting your vitamins from a pill is exactly the same as getting them from food.

Fact: There are some nutrients that are good for you in their natural form (food) that are either not beneficial or even harmful in pill form. “Vitamins are safe when you get them in food, but in pill form, they can act more like a drug,” says Dr. Demetrius Albanes, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

Myth: People who take multivitamins are always healthier than people who don’t.

Fact: It’s complicated. While multivitamins can be good for some of us, some recent research shows that people who regularly take multivitamins are no more exempt from heart disease, cancer, or stroke than those who do not take supplements.

Bottom line: This stuff is tricky! Please ask your doctor before you start or change your vitamin regimen! And for questions about healthy eating and vitamins, click here to contact a nutritionist.

Image: nom nom vitamins, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from denAsuncioner’s photostream.