From A to Zinc

One of the most interesting facts about vitamin and mineral supplementation is that more often than not, if you believe taking them is good for you, it is. In other words, the power of the mind to invest positive qualities in things we believe are good for us is not to be denied. (Studies on the placebo effect are nothing short of remarkable: Patients with inoperative cancer who were given a "miracle" cure [sugar pills] actually saw their cancer temporarily go into recess.)

That said, both competitive and recreational athletes tend to overdose on vitamins and minerals considering that most people who eat a balanced diet get more than enough from the foods they eat. However, the most common vitamins missing in our diets are B6, B12 (typically found in animal products), E (found in vegetable oils), and folic acid (leafy green vegetables and organ meats are good sources). In addition, many women don't get enough calcium and iron in their diet.

While megadosing on vitamins is probably a waste of time and money—and in the case of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, detrimental—taking a multivitamin can serve as a safe, inexpensive insurance policy against deficiencies caused by poor diet.

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