Millions of people in North America are regular vitamin users. The question is, what do you actually need? Daphna Steinberg is a registered dietitian at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and says the data is complicated. This isn’t something you really want to do on your own unless you have a lot of knowledge. If you’re deficiant in something, your doctor is going to let you know because hopefully they are monitoring for that and know what the risks are. For most adults under 50, Steinberg says a balanced diet and not the vitamin aisle is the best place to start. Most vitamins and minerals are most easily absorbed through food. Getting your vitamins and minerals this way will also offer added benefits, like fibre. So when do you need to take a supplement? Once you get to be over 50, a standard multivitamin mineral supplement is recommended because you do have a little bit more difficultly absorbing some of the things from food. At younger ages, Steinberg says standard multivitamins can play a role if you have gaps in your diet. But more, definitely doesn’t equal better. If you’re not defiicent in something, there’s really no reason to take excess amounts of things because there can be dangers associated with that. For example, too vitamin C can cause kidney stones and too much vitamin E has been linked to all-cause mortality. Certain vitamins and minerals can also interfere with some medications, so make sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware of everything you are taking. So what about vitamin-fortified waters? Steinberg says, she doesn’t recommend them. There is sugar in it, so it can cause weight gain, it can increase your blood sugar if you have diabetes and also you can potentially exceed your vitamin requirements from drinking these things, which can have potential side effects. There are dietary reference intakes for all vitamins and minerals for all stages, ages and genders. But rather than try and guess what’s best for you, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or registered dietitian to know for sure. With Sunnyview, I’m Monica Matys.