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Necessary Vitamins
April 2002

Q. I hate taking pills and wanted to know which vitamins I really need. Is there a way to know for certain if I am low in certain vitamins?

A. This is a good question without an easy answer. If you look on the label of any packaged food, there is a nutrition label that gives a lot of detailed information. Several vitamins are listed, and the amounts are often stated as percent of the recommended daily amount. The recommended daily amount, however, is the amount needed to avoid a deficiency, not necessarily the optimal or desired amount. There is not much scientific agreement in this area.

In general, a good and varied diet consisting of all food groups and moderate portions will give a wide variety of vitamins. Common defieciencies would include iron, found in meat and dark green vegetables, which can cause anemia (low red blood count), and calcium, found in milk and dairy products, which can cause osteoporosis. The diet recommended by all major medical groups emphasized high intake of fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates, and limiting intake of fats, particularly saturated fats.



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