The ABC’s of Vitamin Supplementation

My name is Dr. Donald Hensrud, a nutrition expert from the Mayo clinic. Walk the aisles of just about any grocery or drug store and you’ll see rows and rows of vitamins. So how do you know what ones are good for you?

In this article let’s take a look at three vitamins, in particular, Vitamins A, E, and D. Let’s start with a Vitamin A? Is it good for you or bad for you? 

Vitamin A is good, very good for you in small amounts. Beta Carotene is another nutrient that’s converted into Vitamin A. And we’ve known for quite some time that people eat the most Beta Carotene and have the highest blood levels, have lower risks of certain cancers and heart disease.

You can find Vitamin A & Beta Carotene it in colorful fluids. Carrots, for example, have Beta Carotene can be found in high amounts in carrots. There’s another compound called Lycopene that gives tomatoes its red color. So many different types of fruits and vegetables, in particular, have Beta Carotene. 

Now, let’s talk about Vitamin E?  You may have heard that vitamin E is good for you because it may ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s and heart disease.  So what’s the story on vitamin E? 

We’ve known for quite some time through basic science or test-tube studies, animal studies, and even population studies that vitamin E seems to be protective against heart disease.

Let’s move on to Vitamin D. I know that’s good for you to help you avoid Osteoporosis because it helps you absorb calcium, but it also has some other benefits. Let’s talk about those. 

We’ve known for quite some time that Vitamin D is necessary for good bone health to prevent Osteoporosis, Rickets in children and Osteomalacia in adults. That’s just a small amount. Now we know that for good bone health and other health conditions such as Type II Diabetes Mellitus, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and perhaps even multiple Sclerosis, that more is probably a little bit better.

It’s difficult to get all the Vitamin D we need from the usual sources. It’s the sunshine vitamin, but we don’t get a lot and we have to be concerned about skin cancer. Fortified foods have Vitamin D, but we don’t get that much, so a supplement of Vitamin D is probably a great idea for almost everyone.

How much Vitamin D should you be taking? The adequate intake is anywhere from 200 to 600 units a day. Some people suggest that a thousand units a day or more may be optimal for good health.

Many people ask, how do you know when you go to a store and you see the wide array of the types of vitamins you can buy, how do you know which ones good? I mean as far as the quality of the pill itself. 

In terms of quality, it’s really hard because there isn’t as much control as there is in pharmaceutical drugs, so it’s kind of a buyer beware-market. However, there are a few supplements that are good in terms of their effects. A few that are bad in a whole lot that doesn’t make a hill of beans worth of difference. So people stick with a multivitamin D and perhaps some calcium. Those are probably the best that they can do.  If you want more information about vitamins, what’s good and bad and what doesn’t help, go to We’ll share with you our opinions and research