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reviewed 06/18/18

Vitamins: True or false?

Vitamins are everywhere: In stores, advertisements and maybe your medicine cabinet too. In fact, more than 1 in 3 people takes a multivitamin or mineral supplement. But are they the answer to your nutrition needs? Test your knowledge about vitamins with this quiz.

True or false: People who take a daily multivitamin are less likely to get cancer, heart disease or diabetes.

False. Some vitamins might help people with certain health conditions, and a few studies have suggested other protective benefits. But research doesn't show that taking a vitamin can help healthy people prevent diseases like cancer or diabetes.

True or false: Just about everyone could benefit from taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.

False. It's best to get your vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods. But people who don't get enough nutrients from diet alone might benefit from a multivitamin or mineral supplement. These include women who may become pregnant (folate); pregnant women (iron); older adults (vitamin B12); and people who follow a vegan diet (vitamin B12).

True or false: Getting too much of certain vitamins can be risky.

True. For some people, some multivitamin and mineral supplements may be harmful in large amounts. For instance, men and postmenopausal women should avoid too much iron. That's because it can collect in and damage organs, such as the liver. And pregnant women who consume too much vitamin A may have a higher risk of birth defects in their babies.

True or false: Supplements can't fully replicate the healthful ingredients in whole foods.

True. Along with vitamins and minerals, whole foods contain fiber and certain other health-boosting ingredients that you can't get from a pill. What's more, if you take a supplement on an empty stomach, some of the vitamins may not be fully absorbed. So choose nutritious foods as often as you can.

True or false: The body needs certain vitamins in order to work properly.

True. If you don't get enough vitamins, it could lead to a vitamin deficiency and health problems. There are 13 essential vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, B12, pantothenic acid and folate.

If you're thinking about taking a vitamin supplement, it's best to talk with your doctor or a dietician first. In some cases, tests can be used to find out if you're low in a nutrient.

Visit the Vitamins topic center

Sources: American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health

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