It’s a question registered dietitian Mandy Layman with Nemours in Orlando gets from parents all the time. And in the face of arecent study claiming multivitamins are a waste of money, it’s a question on many parents minds.
Layman says the focus should be on food, instead of a pill.
"For years we've been saying food is your best source for all vitamins and minerals,” Layman told our sister station, WKMG. “Your body really likes to have fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein. That's where your body wants to get vitamins from, not just the supplement."
Still, Layman isn’t convinced there isn’t any use for multivitamins, even after the study by Dr. Edgar Miller with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine casting doubt on the value of multivitamins was published. That’s especially true when it comes to kids, as Miller’s study only focused on adults.
“We'd really need to see more research on kids before we say, ‘Hey multivitamins aren't good for anybody of any age,’” Layman said, adding there can still be a value for some kids.
“If a parent comes to me with a child of picky eater – mainly only eating hot dogs and chicken nuggets – the first thing I'll do is encourage that we start working on better eating habits, but until we're there and have that improvement in eating habits, along the way I’m probably going to recommend a multivitamin,” she said.
Layman also wondered if the study overlooked potential benefits of multivitamins for adults.
“These studies, they focus on adults,” she said. “They focused on heart health, brain health and cancer. Something they didn't really focus on was osteropororis, which can come from calcium and vitamin d deficiencies, or anemia which can come from deficiency in iron, folate, B6 or B12. So yeah, maybe the vitamins aren't good for some chronic diseases, but in some cases we do need to get those vitamins in, if we're not getting it all from our food.”
Layman also said multivitamins can be very important for women of child bearing age, if their diet is lacking folic acid, which could cause birth defects.