I’m no expert on diet, though I’ve been doing regular research for 5 years now. What I’ve found through my own experimentation and through reading is that supplements (including vitamins) are unnecessary as a general rule, and that they are needed only in special circumstances.
Here’s what I’ve found:
1) Eat fruits and legumes and nuts and vegetables (mostly uncooked, except for those few that release their nutrients more easily cooked, like broccoli and tomatoes).
2) Eat meat (high in loads of necessary vitamins, like B-12, Iron, etc.)
3) Get at least 1.5 hours of direct sunlight each week (may need Vitamin D supplement or get more dairy, if you don’t)
4) Consume VERY small amounts (or none at all) of sugar, refined flour, preservative-laced foods, sodas, artificial sweeteners.
5) Do vigorous exercise at least 3 times a week, and stretch after each exercise for 15 minutes.
I think the above 5 apply to every human on the planet, but there are exceptions to “kind” and quantity. People with allergies obviously have to be careful about which foods from the above categories to choose from since some are allergic to shellfish, peanuts, gluten, etc. Also, people can be going through a particular experience that requires an “additive,” such as possibly a need for more folic acid during pregnancy. I’ve come to believe that a vegan diet is detrimental to good health, requiring large amounts of “additives” to attain nearly normal health.
Also, as we age, our bodies may become a little less efficient at processing (though I’m not sure about this, if one keeps a good diet and exercise program). It may be necessary to get supplements of good bacteria.
The main thing I’d been struggling with five years ago is what is the perfect (or near-perfect) measure of good health. What I’ve found is the following: good bowel movements; good quality sleep; erect posture; muscle and tendon elasticity; strong bones and teeth; good gums; clear skin; fluid mental activity; no achy joints; almost no sickness; quick healing. If one of these areas is compromised, then I think a person should look closely at their diet and exercise programs with an objective eye and do good research and then commit to trial and error to make sure they get it fixed properly. This can take time and dedication. I’ve found that just one pigging out on pizza or Ramen noodles or burritos affects my sleep, my mood, my energy, my digestion, my bowel movements. That isn’t a coincidence.
I’ve come to believe that diet and exercise are directly linked to virtually every physical and mental health problem in humankind, including ADD, Alzheimer’s, strokes, cancer, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, etc. I do believe some of us may be more prone genetically to certain health problems, but I think that diet and exercise can offset that tendency to some degree or completely.
For myself, I don’t feel like I get quite enough enzymes because I cook some of my food, so I supplement with Green Vibrance (acidophilus, “green” food). I also take Omega 3 fish oil in liquid form. And I take pure amino acid pills (called MAP from www.bodyhealth.com) occasionally if I’m planning a very hard workout (they are good at rebuilding worked muscles). I take these few supplements because I don’t eat enough fish and cook some of my food, thereby compromising my body to a small degree and forcing me to replenish.