Why are you taking a multivitamin?

One in three Americans takes a multivitamin every morning, often with water. This habit's reality may be bitter.

"Most patients would be better off drinking a full glass of water and avoiding the vitamin," says Dr. Pieter Cohen, a Harvard-affiliated physician. You'll save money and avoid deceptive marketing.

Exceptions exist. Highly restricted diets, gastrointestinal problems, or specific weight-loss operations might cause low nutritional absorption.

 Insufficient sun exposure may need a vitamin D supplement. Low red blood cell count may need an iron supplement (anemia).

USPSTF review editorial suggests consumers take vitamins to keep healthy, feel more energized, or obtain peace of mind. These assumptions derive from a century-old story about vitamins.

Dr. Cohen thinks this story appeals to progressive vegetarians and conservatives who distrust science and physicians.

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