I was asked today what I think about taking vitamins. There has been a lot of news recently about whether we should be taking vitamins, and some news stories are even telling us to “throw them away.” I’m not convinced that vitamins are bad for you, however I have believed for a long time that they are mostly just going through your system and into the waste stream, which is bad for the environment. That aside, I do believe that if you are purchasing quality vitamins made from food products, they are not only not harmful, but may offer marginal protection against gaps in your diet.

This is what brings me to the important point about vitamins. If you are missing vitamins from your diet, it implies that you are not eating enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains (in that order). If you follow a plan of nutrition through whole plant-based foods, you do not need a multi-vitamin.

There are unfortunately two vitamin factors that are important to keep in mind with plant-based nutrition is vitamins B-12 and D(3). B-12 is found in the soil, but now that we wash our vegetables so thoroughly we wash away the B-12. Vitamin D comes from the sun, and thanks to all the time we spend indoors, or wearing sunscreen we limit our exposure. Both of these vitamins are needed in very small amounts. If you are getting plenty of sun you don’t need to worry about D until you are older (people over 60 have a harder time turning the sun into vitamin D). B12 can be obtained through a very small sub lingual dose a few times a week.

After 6 months to a year of following a plan of plant-based nutrition you can go to a clinic and have your blood tested for both of these vitamins, and of course if you are feeling uncomfortable about any new problems see your doctor right away.