Do vitamin supplements really work?

NORFOLK, Va. - A recent report from the American Heart Association said multivitamin supplements do not prevent strokes or heart attacks.

But should we do away with vitamin supplements altogether?

News 3 This Morning brought in medical expert Dr. Ryan Light to get his take on taking vitamins.

"A well-balanced diet consisting of fresh vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), lean proteins, and whole grains negates the need for a multivitamin," said Dr. Light.  "The old adage 'you are what you eat' is actually true."

Dr. Light also said taking vitamins individually, instead of in multivitamin form, does not necessarily make them more effective.

"Be careful with certain vitamins as they can be toxic in large doses," he warned.  " Vitamin E and beta carotene can be harmful in high quantities.  The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K can build up in the body and cause side effects."

While the doctor's best advice is to "spend the money on a well-balanced diet," he does encourage women to consider certain supplements.

"The recommendation is for women to take a multivitamin during childbearing years," he said.  "This will increase folic acid, which decreases neural tube defects.  Women should also take calcium and vitamin D to prevent future osteoporosis."