It's a common misconception that everyone needs to take lots of vitamins every day. While most of us do have some vitamin or mineral deficiencies, rarely does it call for high doses of vitamins.
Taking vitamins can be one way of making sure your body gets the nutrients it needs, but you have to be sure you're taking ones that are a benefit.
"Some studies show that multivitamins benefit your system, some show there is no benefit. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, generally," she said.
"The cornerstone of optimal health is good nutrition. The ideal way of getting vitamins is by eating good, healthy, non-processed food," explained Dr. Anderson. "However, there are issues when it comes to absorbing nutrients. For example, oral contraceptives interfere with absorption of B vitamins. Sometimes, nutrients from food are not absorbed either, due to digestive issues or medications that block absorption. Our food isn't as nutrient rich as it used to be."
It's important to also consider the quality of the vitamin, when choosing one for yourself or your family.
"We typically recommend pharmaceutical grade vitamins," said Dr. Anderson. "Do some online research to make sure there's third party testing as well. Typically, the stuff you're buying at the store is not pharmaceutical grade. You can get them online or from a provider, such as Beaumont Integrative Medicine."
Also, remember that vitamins in capsule form absorb better in the body than tablets.
For women, taking calcium as you age is usually on the top of the list of questions your physician asks. But a high dose can cause deposits in the brain, kidneys and heart, and can have unwanted side effects.
"It's best to get calcium through leafy vegetables. Many nutrients contribute to bone health. If you are going to take calcium, take no more than 1,000 mg a day," explained Dr. Anderson.
The vitamin D, fish oil and probiotic recommendation extends to children, too.
"All in all, a multivitamin isn't going to be harmful and may be beneficial, but I wouldn't recommend taking mega doses of nutrients without consulting a health care provider," said Dr. Anderson.