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The two vitamins that I believe should be monitored and treated if deficient are Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Vitamins are indicated for certain medical conditions, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and those who are on strict vegetarian diet.

Despite the fact that in America majority do get adequate vitamins and minerals thru their diet, 47% of men and 59% of women are still reported to be taking dietary supplements to better their health.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation has also become a big business thru intense marketing. Although it may be hard to believe, but there is no regulation by FDA to require these companies to show that their product actually work or is harmless as they require from mainstream drug manufacturers.

There is also evidence that taking certain vitamins can cause unexpected results as in the case of vitamin E and Alpha-Tocopherol and Beta-Carotene causing more cancer than expected. Other studies shown no benefit as in the case of Vitamin C or E. Another study “Iowa Women’s Health Study” showed that those who took vitamins and minerals including folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, and zinc had higher risk of premature death, with iron having the highest associated risk.

What these studies show is that vitamins and minerals may not be as harmless as we think. Please read Quackwatch and FDA statement on Dietary supplements for more information.

Vitamin D deficiency. I often find patients with Vitamin D deficiency as this part of our routine screening in our practice. This is easily treated. Follow-up blood testing is needed to make sure Vitamin D level has normalized. Thereafter 400 units of daily intake of Vitamin D should keep levels within normal range.

– Vitamin B12 deficiency. This is not as common but does occur. Frequently we find patients with low normal levels that can be reversed by oral supplements alone. Those who have low levels do need to have Vitamin B12 injections as levels that low usually indicate inability of the body to absorb Vitamin B12 no matter how high of a dose is taken by mouth. Blood testing here is also needed to ensure levels are back to normal range.