Nightly News   |  October 10, 2011

Some vitamins could increase death risk

NBC Medical Director Dr. Tanya Benenson joins Brian to discuss a study on vitamins.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: With us here in the studio for more on this Dr. Tanya Benenson , a doctor of internal medicine here in New York and our NBC medical director, as well. And, Doctor, when a patient comes to you and says, 'Should I take a multivitamin,' what are the conditions? Do you ask the patient a series of questions?

Dr. TANYA BENENSON (NBC Universal Chief Medical Officer): Well, I think a multivitamin for anybody is fine. It's a great safety net. It's when we start getting into those excessive megadoses of things when you're not deficient, that's where the problem starts. So you have to do extensive history, lab analysis before you start supplementing individual items that people are doing on their own.

WILLIAMS: But overall, a run of the mill, the brands we all know, a multivitamin supplement -- like the woman in the setup piece says, it doesn't seem like we're getting enough nutrition from our on the go meals and diet these days. That seems about right, common-sensewise.

Dr. BENENSON: Well, it's fine to take the multivitamin. But think about all the juices that have things in it, all the fortified foods. So we're getting them in other places, as well. So you do have to be careful, especially the metals, the iron, the zinc, the copper. Just because a little bit is good for you doesn't mean more is better, and people seem to lose that. And it's not regulated well, so people tend to overtake vitamins. That's really the problem here.

WILLIAMS: So like everything else, moderation and consult your doctor.

Dr. BENENSON: Right. Exactly.

WILLIAMS: Which we just did. Dr. Tanya Benenson , thanks you very much for being here with us.