Once it was believed possible to compensate for dietary deficiencies by popping a multivitamin every day. But research suggests that multivitamins may not be all they’re cracked up to be, according to Harvard Medical School’s HEALTHbeat.

Many multivitamins contain some micronutrients in amounts greater than those recommended in the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you choose to take a multivitamin, take one daily — no more, according to HEALTHbeat. It’s an especially bad idea to take extra multivitamins in an effort to ramp up your intake of a single micronutrient. Doing so means you’re sure to get too much of other vitamins and/or minerals, which can be harmful, according to HEALTHbeat.

Meanwhile, the benefits of multivitamins remain uncertain. The Women’s Health Initiative study concluded that postmenopausal women who took multivitamins did not have a lower death rate than others and were just as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancers of the lung, colon and rectum, breast, and endometrium. These results are consistent with findings from other studies. And in 2006, the NIH said there wasn’t enough evidence for a recommendation about taking multivitamins, according to HEALTHbeat.

Nutrient-dense foods have a lot of nutrients relative to the number of calories they contain. Some examples of foods that pack a nutritional punch are:
  • Avocados
  • Chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms (crimini and shiitake)
  • Baked potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cantaloupe, papaya, raspberries, strawberries
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower)
  • Dried beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
  • Lentils, peas
  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Barley, oats, quinoa, brown rice
  • Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
  • Lean beef, lamb, venison
  • Chicken, turkey