Skip to main content
take the reality check diet analysis take the reality check diet analysis


Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

Vitamin Supplements: Don’t Put a Band-Aid on Your Health

Learn the good and bad effects of an unbalanced diet and how supplements can change things.

Vitamin Supplements: Don’t Put a Band-Aid on Your Health

Do you talk to your doctor about vitamin supplements? Or do you just take a one-a-day multivitamin and not even think twice about it?

A government study found that more than half of American adults take at least one dietary supplement a day. More women, aged 60 and over, took Calcium and Vitamin D supplements from 1988 to 1994 to 1999 to 2002, but there was also an increase in use between the period from 1999 to 2002 and 2003 to 2006, according to Jaime Gahche, a nutritional researcher with the National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of the study.

The study also found that during the period of 1988 to 1994, more than 40% of adult Americans used vitamin supplements of some kind. Compare this to 50% usage during the time period of 2003 to 2006, and in just nine years the number of adult Americans taking a vitamin supplement jumps 10 percentage points.

“Supplements are appropriate for those who don’t have the healthiest diet or for those who eat less than 1,600 calories per day. You should also take a dietary supplement if you are pregnant, may become pregnant and a vegan or vegetarian,” said Christy Shatlock, Registered Dietitian for bistroMD.

Given the prevalence of vitamin supplements in American society, it is interesting, or perhaps even troubling, to note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way as prescription drugs. The makers do not have to prove the safety or effectiveness of their supplement before bringing it to market.

Don’t Use a Band-Aid Solution for Your Health

According to Consumer Reports, since 2007 the government has received more than 6,300 reports of serious events linked to the use of dietary supplements, including heart, liver and kidney problems, nausea, pain, allergic reactions and vomiting. These reports included 115 deaths, 900 emergency room visits, more than 2,100 hospitalizations and more than 10,300 serious outcomes.

Taking vitamins to replace a healthy diet is only a quick fix. There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Supplements could make a difference for someone with a food allergy or for someone with a vitamin deficiency, but they should never be a complete substitute for a healthy diet.

However, multivitamins aren’t too bad, but should be looked at as more of an insurance policy.

In light of a couple recent studies, here are some things to keep in mind:

Calcium Supplements May Not be the Best Idea for Your Health

Calcium may help protect you from osteoporosis, but calcium supplements don’t stand much of a chance without help from their friend Vitamin D. Without adequate vitamin D, your body will not absorb your calcium supplement.

To get more vitamin D into your system, try including more fatty fish, eggs and mushrooms exposed to sunlight into your diet. Many doctors also recommend 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day.

Steroids in Your Vitamin B Supplements?

The FDA has recently received almost 30 complaints of fatigue, muscle cramping and muscle pain from B-50 pills from Healthy Chemistry By Purity First.

Keep in mind that vitamin B is supposed to boost your energy and make you feel better.

Some women who took the pill reported unusual hair growth and missed menstrual cycles. Some men reported impotence and low testosterone.

Lab tests recently revealed that the product may have contained the steroids methasterone and dimethazine—which were certainly not listed on the label.

"Products marketed as a vitamin but which contain undisclosed steroids pose a real danger to consumers and are illegal," Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The National Institutes of Health even weighed in saying that taking anabolic steroids has been linked to health problems like breast growth and shrinking testicles in males, acne and cysts, voice deepening and body hair growth in women, increased risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular problems, liver disease and cancer and aggressive behavior.

To avoid these risks and naturally increase your vitamin B, try eating more fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy and some leafy greens and vegetables.

If You Want the Effects of Good Nutrition, You’re Not Going to Get them Solely from a Pill

Many Americans pop vitamin pills because they don’t have time to cook healthy meals.

If you’re looking for something fast and convenient without the hassle of frequenting the grocery store, bistroMD offers diet plans that can help you successfully lose weight by eating real, delicious food.

We cook with the freshest ingredients and have over 200 recipes and a customizable menu so you should have no problem finding something to satisfy your taste buds.

Every bite you take follows this proven approach for healthy weight loss. Our program provides 1,100-1,400 calories daily with 40-50% total caloric intake from lean, adequate protein, 20-25% of calories from healthy fats, and 30-35% from complex carbohydrates.

It only takes a few weeks to start seeing results. You don’t have anything to lose, but the fat!

We have a men's and a women’s program with the option to receive five-or-seven-days’ worth of healthy meals delivered to your door.

The two programs range from $130-$160 and EATS, our essential and tasty snacks are just $1.50 per snack. Women receive two snacks per day and men receive three snacks per day.

Our Registered Dietitian’s Take on Vitamin Supplements

“Both our women’s plan of 3 meals and 2 protein snacks per day and men’s plan of 3 meals and 3 protein snacks per day are below 1,600 calories,” said Christy.

When choosing a dietary supplement you should always read the labels.

“You want to choose supplements that provide about 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for the vitamins and minerals in the supplement,” added Christy.

Nature’s Made Multi Daily which is gluten and yeast free, has no preservatives and no artificial colors or flavors and has 100% of the daily value of 12 essential vitamins and minerals.

Remember that multivitamins are a good idea if you’re consuming LESS than 1,600 calories a day. Christy particularly likes these vitamin supplements:

      - One-A-Day Essential

      - One-A-Day Women’s

      - One-A-Day Men’s

bistroMD Team Logo
Written By bistroMD Team. Published on July 30, 2013. Updated on June 20, 2019.


Follow @bistroMD

Start Your Diet Today!

Theme picker

as seen on...
Dr Phil
Lifetime Network
The Biggest Loser
The Doctors