Are Vitamins Necessary?

Q: I eat a pretty balanced diet but have never been able to get into the habit of taking vitamins. Should I be concerned about that?

A: Vitamins and supplements are a big, big business. There’s no shortage of people who want to sell us things that we don’t need.

As I have said before, there is very little research that supports that taking vitamins and other nutrients in pill form has any benefit. Food is much more complex than these individual elements. It’s the interaction of all of the nutrients together in their whole form that likely does the body the most good (though, to be honest, that’s hard to prove scientifically as well).

There are some vitamins and minerals that have sufficient evidence to support their use, especially when a deficiency is documented by the appropriate blood test, namely calcium, vitamin D, iron, folate, and b12.

Keep eating your well-balanced diet. Your body and your bank account will probably be healthier in the long run.

Learn more:
Vitamin-packed foods

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at


Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago


Richard T.
Richard T5 years ago

Thank you!

Luna ButterflyMoon
Past Member 5 years ago

I couldn't disagree more with this article. As I wrote elsewhere, I can SEE the effects of my vitamin supplements as my skin improved dramatically and my weight dropped since I started using them. Also, my GP complimented me with my 'excellently improved' lab-results when I asked to be re-tested for vitamin defeciency.

gail d.
gail dair7 years ago


Deborah Litster
Deborah Litster7 years ago

I agree that vitamin supplementation is necessary it seems to me doctors that disagree are ones that are only too happy to prescribe prescription drugs for everything from cholesteral, high blood pressure depression etc with out even considering that supplementation might just be the answer and no side effects and depletion of vitamins and minerals from the body and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and doctors seem to be on the pharmaceutical band wagon instead even though drugs have proven to be toxic and sometimes deadly not saying that in extreme cases sometimes necessary but not as the first solution

Laura Causer
Laura Causer8 years ago

In 1998 the Journal of Medicinal Foods published an evaluation on liquid vitamins
and minerals. The purpose of the evaluation was to look at the evidence surrounding
whether or not there were benefits to vitamin and mineral supplements delivered in
liquid form. A wide variety of research studies were reviewed and it was determined
that liquid supplements contain nutrients that are highly bioavailable, can be gentler to
the stomach and are sometimes more suitable for children and elderly people. For more
information, go to the Journal of Medicinal Food, Volume 2, Number 3, page 207.
Major Scientific Review Validates the Importance of Vitamins
I n June of 2002, one of the most respected journals in medicine, the Journal of the
American Medical Association, published a comprehensive review of almost 40 years
worth of scientific research on the relationship between vitamins and certain diseases.
This review, which was conducted by two Harvard researchers, clearly illustrates how
vitamin deficiencies are associated with chronic diseases such as cancer, coronary
heart disease and osteoporosis. The researchers located many studies that prove taking
folic acid during pregnancy helps prevent certain birth defects. Folic acid has also
been proven to help prevent heart disease and several types of cancer when taken
on a regular basis. Regarding the intake of vitamin E, the researchers located evidence
that it is an important antioxidant necessary for immune function. Th

James M.
James M.9 years ago

Nutrition experts recommend that we get all our daily nutritional needs from the food that we eat, viz. from natural sources. They also recommend that we eat at least 2 to 3 bowls of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, at least 3 bowls of green vegetables and 2 servings of fish a week. The problem is that very few people can follow this dietary pattern consistently. Supplementation therefore becomes necessary for most people. A good multi-vitamin supplement will not provide the full RDAs but a portion of them so that you get the rest from the food that you eat. Because our dietary habits have gone so far away from what is recommended, it is a good idea to take a multivitamin supplemnet like MultiVescence, which also contains additional benefits to support heart and immune health such CoQ10 and antioxidants.

Nessa G.
evie C9 years ago

I am an otherwise healthy person who has had odd discoloration around wounds and easily bruises. I was told this was likely due to a vitamin deficiency, so I started taking a good multivitamin. I have not seen any more odd discoloration around cuts and my bruises are not as common and heal much faster. I think it must be something in the vitamins that helps! I also feel better, too, but that could be psychological. Either way, I'm doing better than before thanks to GNC Premium One without Iron Multivitamin Capsules. I bought a whole bunch on sale, so that is the only brand I have taken regularly for a long time. I don't think the generic store brand of "Centrum"-style vitamins made much difference, but these seem to.

Tom M.
Tom M9 years ago

It is incorrect to say that humans have no need for dietary supplementation. The pharmaceutical industry is behind much of the anti-vitamin/supplement messages we see and hear. Allopathic medicine generally is slow to recognize the benefits of supplementation for maintaining health, yet we know that many doctors are now convinced of the benefits of taking fish oil, CoQ10, vitamin C and other supplements. There are many exciting discoveries taking place on the nutritional front. The ability to slow the aging process is driving the quest for discovery. Check out