How to Determine if You Need a Vitamin or Supplement
The vitamin and dietary supplement industry is a multi-million dollar one. There are aisles of pills at every pharmacy. Just because there are so many different vitamins and supplements available, does not mean you need to take one though. Before automatically popping pills to boost your health, take some time to analyze your diet and your dietary needs.
If you eat a well balanced diet with lots of dairy, fruits and vegetables then the chances are good that you are getting all the nutrients you need from the food you eat. This is how it should be. But we all have likes and dislikes, and many people have special circumstances, while others chose a certain diet that could be lacking in a certain nutrient. My daughter for instance, has a dairy and egg allergy. I worry that she doesn't get enough calcium for a growing girl. Therefore I give her a calcium supplement. Take your special circumstances into consideration before deciding to take a vitamin.
Some people have special health needs that could benefit from a supplement. Studies have shown that people with ADD or ADHD show some benefit when taking an Omega-3 supplement. In fact many people would benefit from an Omega-3 supplement, as most people do not eat enough fish to get it regularly in their diet. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement to prevent birth defects. Vegetarians might not get enough protein or Vitamin B12 in their diets because they aren't eating meat.
Although milk and many fortified processed foods are supplemented with Vitamin D, recent studies have shown that most people are still deficient in it. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, because if our bodies get enough sunshine each day we will make all the Vitamin D we need. Because most people are so vigilant about using sunscreen though, most people don't get enough sun to make enough Vitamin D. Calcium is something else that most people do not get enough of. Even though it is added into many foods, because so few people drink milk anymore (usually soda is the substitute) many people are deficient.
I have a child that really does not like fruit. I try to get her to eat some every day, but usually it just sits on her plate. Contrast that with my boys, who love fruit, but dislike most vegetables. I think my kids sum up a typical child - picky. When you are dealing with children, many people err on the side of caution and go ahead and give them a good multi-vitamin. Especially with young children who can be extremely picky, this is probably a good idea. Of course you should talk to your doctor, but if you think that your diet or your child's diet is lacking in something then I don't think it hurts to give a multi-vitamin.
If you are concerned about whether you are getting everything you need in your diet, you should check with your doctor. Your doctor can do some blood work and determine which areas might be deficient. Honestly there are too many vitamins and supplementals on the market for the average person to be able to figure out what would be good for them. It also seems that there are conflicting articles and information all over the place about the very supplements you see advertised as good for you. Chances are good that you don't need to take a vitamin or supplement at all. Take some time to analyze your diet and talk with your doctor to make sure you do what is best for your body.