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October 16, 2017 06:20 PM

Vitamins: Do You Need Them?

Sioux Falls, SD

With so many different kinds of vitamins on the shelves, it may be hard to decide on what ones you need.  And with winter weather approaching, some people may feel they need to stock up on certain vitamins to fight off colds.

Walking through a vitamin aisle can be overwhelming. Some claim to promote stress relief; others promote maintaining a healthy weight. But how do you know if you really need them?

"I mean, I research before I take anything and I don't think I overdo it. I just take enough to make sure I'm supplemented," Jeff Lukens said. 

Lukens says in addition to eating a healthy diet, he also takes vitamins.

"The health benefits, and when you get to be my age, you just want to make sure that you have enough in your diet," Lukens said.

Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian Anna Heronimus says unless you have an underlying health problem, your doctor recommends you take them or you have a vitamin deficiency, you probably don't need vitamin supplements. 

"If you're actually eating a healthy diet, you know, you're getting five cups of fruits and vegetables every day, eating whole grains, getting dairy and lean choices of protein, you're probably adequately getting enough vitamins and minerals," Heronimus said.

Only not all of us eat like we should.

"More important than taking vitamins is just spending a lot of time in the produce section. Or if you have a garden eating good fresh vegetables and fruits, I think that's probably the best vitamin you can take," Lukens said. 

Yet, as it gets colder and people bundle up, many people become deficient in one specific vitamin. 

With cold and flu season upon us, one vitamin you can stock up on is vitamin D. But you do want to check the back of the bottle for the recommended dosage.

"You would have to stand outside for 15 to 20 minutes to get enough Vitamin D exposure. So that might be something you want to go talk to your doctor and get tested out," Heronimus said. 

Heronimus also cautions that just because it's colder outside doesn't mean you should fill your cabinets with vitamin D supplements. She says checking with your doctor should be your first step. 

So as long as you eat a healthy diet and your doctor hasn't recommended you take a vitamin, you can skip that aisle the next time you're at the store. 

Heronimus says the cheapest and easiest route to getting your vitamins is by eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables every day. 

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