FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Facts

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If  you choose  to take a vitamin/mineral supplement, here are some  tips to help you decide which is best:

  • Read the labels.
  • If you are over 50, check with your doctor to see if you need any additional iron – some supplements designed for people over 50 years of age contain no iron.
  • People over 50 and vegans may need extra vitamin B12  – your doctor can measure your B12 level to see if it is adequate.
  • Some supplements contain less than or equal to 100% of the Daily Value – High levels over 100% DV can lead to nutrient imbalances or toxicities.
  • Pay attention to Vitamin A – too much increases the risk of liver damage and bone fractures – look for one that contains vitamin A as beta-carotene.
  • Be aware that the Daily Value of Vitamin A is based on 1500 ug (5000 IU) per day for adults.  For women, the RDA is only 700 ug (2330 IU), so a supplement containing 100% of the Daily Value provides over twice the RDA.
  • Excess Vitamin A is a particular concern for pregnant women because it may contribute to birth defects.
  • Vitamin B6, vitamin D and calcium needs are increased in people over 50 years of age.

Note: The Daily Values are a single set of standards for everyone, they may overestimate the amount needed of a nutrients for some groups.  They are based on two sets of standards, the Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs) and the Daily Reference Values (DRVs) .  To avoid confusion, only the term “Daily Value” appears on food and supplement labels.

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