According to an article appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2002; 287(23):3127-9), many of us may need to be taking vitamin supplements. The article acknowledges that while extreme deficiency syndromes (like pellagra and beriberi) are rare in Western society, sub optimal intake of certain nutrients is a risk factor for disease. The article states that deficiencies of folic, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 increase the risk for heart disease. These deficiencies also increase the risk for breast and colon cancers, as well as for neural tube defect (a common birth defect) in developing fetuses. Deficiencies of antioxidant, like vitamins A, C and E are also linked to a number of diseases. The article acknowledges that the diets of many Americans are not getting enough of many of these nutrients and sees the wisdom of supplementation.
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