Should You Take Vitamins at All?
According to the Mayo Clinic, many people take multivitamins or single vitamins and mineral supplements when they don't need them, which may do more harm than good. For example, smokers who take beta-carotene--a common ingredient in multivitamins--are at a higher risk of lung cancer, despite the antioxidant benefit that would seemingly reduce cancer risk.
Typically, people who eat a balanced diet get enough nutrients through foods, and don't need to take vitamins to be healthy. Plus, nutrients from whole foods generally have a higher bioavailability rate, meaning the body absorbs them better than it does via supplements. So for most healthy people, the best way to stay well nourished is by eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and other unprocessed fare, and skipping the vitamins.
That said, some people really do benefit from using supplements; and if your doctor recommends them, s/he probably has a good reason. If you tend to eat a restrictive diet or don't have the opportunity to eat balanced meals, taking vitamins can help ensure you get your essential nutrients.
Vitamin B12, for instance, is only found in animal products so vegans cannot get it without supplementation. The Institute of Medicine also recommends that anyone over 50 take B12 supplements because it becomes harder to absorb the nutrient from food with age. Women of childbearing years--especially pregnant women--can benefit by taking folic acid because it may help prevent birth defects. In addition, people who don't get adequate sunlight may need to supplement with vitamin D because the body doesn't produce this nutrient on its own without solar exposure.
Should You Take Gummies?
If you do decide to go for the gummies, read the label to ensure you're getting the nutrients you need. And don't expect to get your calcium from these alone, as no multivitamin is large enough to provide enough of this bulky mineral.
It's also important to choose a quality product, which can be dicey considering the FDA doesn't regulate supplements the way it does prescription medications. The best way to make sure you're getting your money's worth is to look for a label seal from a third party such as Consumerlab or U.S. Pharmacopeia.
The bottom line is that not everyone should take vitamins, but for those who need them, gummies may offer a more enticing option. The more you enjoy your vitamins, the more likely you are to take them--which is a good thing.
Nina Kate is a certified fitness nutrition specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). She also studied journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and has contributed to numerous major publications as a freelance writer. Nina thrives on sharing nutrition and fitness knowledge to help readers lead healthy, active lives. Visit her wellness blog at BodyFlourish.com.