Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that work together to perform hundreds of functions in the body. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and strengthen the immune system. They also convert food into energy and repair cell damage. Vitamin A is an important nutrient that helps produce retinal, which is used in the rods and cones of the eyes to detect light.
Multivitamins are supplements that contain many different vitamins and minerals, sometimes along with other ingredients. Taking a daily multivitamin can provide additional benefits, but it is not a means to achieve optimal health. Vitamin D is synthesized when exposed to sunlight, and this is the best source of it. Smokers should avoid multivitamins with large amounts of beta-carotene or vitamin A, as these nutrients may increase the risk of lung cancer.
A varied and balanced diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables should be the main source of vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins take a long time to break down and stay in the body longer. Two observational studies have linked long-term use of multivitamins to a reduction in the risk of colon cancer. Taking antioxidant vitamins and minerals can slow its progression and help prevent it.
The different B vitamins are usually integrated into the structure of the different enzymes that a cell produces. Several small studies have found that multivitamins can improve memory in older adults. In addition, some evidence suggests that multivitamins may reduce the risk of developing cataracts, another widespread eye disease.