Because people’s diets are so widely varied, and because there are so many types to choose from, it’s difficult to answer the questions regarding whether vitamins truly help people who take them. But there are some guidelines.
The reason vitamins have grown so popular is because people sort of have the feeling that because they don’t generally eat as well as they know they should, they figure they are probably lacking in certain vitamins or minerals or whatever else is in those little vitamin pills; so they figure better safe than sorry.
The truth is, according to the FDA, most people do get more than enough vitamins in their daily diets, and so, taking extra in pill form has little to no effect; especially the ones that advertise large doses of specific vitamins such as Vitamin C. For most people, taking these supplements does absolutely nothing, though it has been shown that overdoing it can lead to liver or kidney damage.
But of course it’s not that simple. The reason the FDA doesn’t step in and tell the companies that make vitamins and other supplements to back off on their claims, is because there are just enough people who do benefit from supplements to warrant the claims that are made. But these people are hardly mainstream. For the most part, they are people with eating disorders or who are sick because of other reasons, such as when they are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
Also, there is also the suspicion that some people actually wind up cutting fruits and vegetables out of their digests almost completely, which would of course leave them at risk of a nutritional deficiency. Oddly enough though, it appears that there is more of a chance that people will be suffering from a mineral deficiency than from a vitamin deficiency; one of the most recent of which is coming to light, is magnesium, a salt based mineral that helps the body control muscles and nerves. It has even been suggested by Discover magazine that a magnesium deficiency might be the cause of unexplained foot and hand pain in millions of people. And the reason this is appearing is because magnesium is a mineral found in the soil where plants grow, but if you plant crops over and over again in the same soil without somehow replenishing the minerals, soon there will be non for the plants to pull up.
So, the bottom line is, if you cut out fruits and vegetables from your diet, or are suffering from an eating disorder or problem, then yes, by all means take vitamin supplements. But remember, most of them are only able to be metabolized by the body if taken with food. Everybody else should start thinking about mineral supplements instead.