Family Health Guide

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Vitamins and Supplements

If you’re like many moms, a typical meal for you might be a leftover half of PB&J, or sharing some mac 'n cheese with your kids because you didn't have time to make a grown-up meal, too. Result? You're probably not be consuming enough of certain vitamins and minerals that are vital to your health -- and energy level. “Large national studies have shown that there are ‘vulnerable nutrients’ that many American women have trouble consuming in adequate amounts,” says Roberta Anding, R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and a clinical dietician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.  “Those nutrients include iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and, for women who don’t consume much or any meat or other animal products, zinc and vitamin B-12."

It's always best to get these nutrients by eating a well-rounded diet; you’re unlikely to consume too much of any one nutrient and absorption from foods is often better than from pills.  Besides, eating is one of life’s great pleasures. That said, you're a way-busy mom and the incessant daily demands of raising a family means you probably don't eat as well as you should. Taking a multivitamin can help fill in those nutritional gaps.

Your nutritional needs vary depending on whether you’re thinking about having a baby, currently pregnant, a breastfeeding new mom, or you're finished having kids and just trying to keep up with life. Pregnancy aside, most women can get enough nutritional insurance from a daily multivitamin to help them achieve their Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the amount of each nutrient recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. In some cases, though, individual supplements may be best.