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We all know that vitamin supplements are no substitute for a healthy diet. But nobody is a perfectly healthy eater. It’s hard to get everything you need if you’re ill, a picky eater, dieting, or have food allergies. For those on restricted diets, it can be particularly challenging.

Research has shown that deficiencies also vary by age, gender or ethnicity. And deficiency may soar to nearly one third of certain population groups. In addition, many people are too busy to take the time to eat well or cook at home.

A new study in the journal Nutrients analyzes data from 10,698 adults age 19 years and older. The data comes from the 2009-2012 National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES). This provided reliable 24-hour dietary interviews—including the use of dietary supplements. An in-person health examination also collected blood samples to analyze markers of nutritional status.

They found the daily use of multivitamin/mineral supplements helped prevent shortfalls in important nutrients necessary to support overall health. There were a few exceptions: calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. But those are still important nutrients everyone needs to get enough of.

There appears to be a great tenacity to old ways of thinking, e.g. you can get all the nutrition you need if you just eat a healthy, balanced diet—and then ignoring how most people actually eat and what they actually require,” lead author Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD said. “… Also, as our understanding about higher nutrient requirements of optimal health and wellness grows, particularly among older adults, it is clear that it can be quite difficult to achieve these intakes of selected nutrients from commonly available food choices.”

Now when someone says, “you can get everything you need from your diet,” you can point them to this study.

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