Supplementing in Special Situations

Taking a simple multivitamin and mineral pill can be a good idea for certain individuals who are at risk of developing nutrition deficiencies. You should indeed consider taking a multivitamin and mineral pill if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • Restricting calories. Dieters who eat less than 1,200 calories daily may miss some important nutrients.
  • Allergic to certain foods. People who can't eat certain types of foods, such as fruits or wheat, need to compensate with alternative vitamin sources to avoid deficiencies in some nutrients.
  • Lactose intolerant. The inability to digest the milk sugar found in dairy products is a common occurrence among African American and Hispanic people. Avoiding dairy foods can result in a diet deficient in riboflavin, vitamin D, and the mineral calcium.
  • An indoor athlete. If you spend little time in the sun or consistently use sunscreen when you are outdoors, you might be short on vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin. Milk fortified with vitamin D is among the best sources of this vitamin. If you cannot or will not drink milk, taking a calcium pill with vitamin D might be a smart idea, as well as 15 minutes of regular activity in the sunshine without sunscreen.
  • Contemplating pregnancy. To help prevent certain types of birth defects, women who are thinking about becoming pregnant should be sure to have a diet rich in folic acid, and they should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folacin.
  • Pregnant. Expectant mothers require additional vitamins and iron, but they should consult with their physicians before taking a supplement. See chapter 12 for more about athletes and pregnancy.

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