A few recent studies have concluded that vitamin supplements don’t reduce disease risk. But, no one is saying they are the magic bullet. That’s why they are called supplements, not substitutes. There is plenty of evidence that supplements can fill in nutritional gaps in not-so-perfect diets, and maybe even lower risks for certain health conditions, such as neural tube defects or osteoporosis.

For one thing, only 1 out of every 100 women meet even the basic requirements of a balanced diet, which means their nutrient intakes are probably not optimal, jeopardizing their health and possibly the health of their children. Case in point: many women still fall far short of optimal for folic acid even though refined grains are fortified with this B vitamin. Then there are the studies that show women who supplement suffer less from a host of ills, from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to heart disease, compared to non-supplementers. It is self-evident that the immediate solution to this huge problem is for women to both improve their diets and take dietary supplements to fill in the many large gaps between their current intake and the recommended amounts.

Just make sure you do it right. Follow my guidelines outlined in Eat Your Way to Sexy when choosing a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Supplement your supplement with extra calcium and magnesium, and consider an omega-3 DHA supplement if you don’t eat salmon twice a week.