[Health ★★★]


(P1) Vitamins are substances that the body needs to survive.  Different kinds of vitamins provide the body with different benefits.  For example, vitamin B helps the skin stay healthy.  Teeth and bones need vitamin D.  Vitamin K assists with making new blood.

(P2) Luckily for us, vitamins are commonly found in nature and in the food we eat.   For example, milk and fish have large amounts of vitamin B12.  Fruit and vegetables usually have some amount of vitamin C.  Many people don’t have the time or energy to eat healthy foods all the time.  As a result, they need to take pills called multivitamins or vitamin supplements.

(P3) Multivitamin companies make a lot of money from selling these pills.  Their annual global revenue is around $68 billion.  Many consumers think that multivitamins can help maintain a healthy lifestyle.  But is it dangerous to take too many vitamins?

(P4) Several scientists and organizations are worried that people are taking too many vitamins.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has told consumers that excessive vitamin A might cause birth defects.  The National Cancer Institute found that people who took too much vitamin E had an increased risk of cancer.  Some doctors have cautioned patients that taking excessive vitamin C can make people very sick.  Scientists and health professionals have started to understand the reason for these problems.  Bodies that are too full of one vitamin have no room for other vitamins.

(P5) Nutritionists say that the best way for consumers to avoid overdoing their vitamins is to eat healthier food.  They recommend that vitamin purchasers get more information.  For example, they advise using the Internet to find out more about their own diets and what vitamins they really need.  You should also consult with your doctor for advice on healthy eating.  Finally, always read the package on any multivitamin to make sure it doesn’t overload your body.

WORDS: 309


VOCABULARY: supplements, revenue, defects, nutritionists, overdoing, overload


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you take supplements as part of your daily diet? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, do multivitamin companies make too much money? Why or why not?
  4. Should people consult their doctors before taking supplements? Why or why not?


  1. Which vitamin helps to maintain healthy skin?
  2. Vitamin B12 can be found in ___________ and ____________.
  3. Companies who manufacture and sell supplements earn high profits. (T or F)
  4. Excessive vitamin A might lead to _______________.
  5. Reading the labels when you buy supplements is useless. (T or F)


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • the body needs to survive (P1)
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle (P3)
  • taking excessive vitamin C (P4)
  • overload your body (P5)

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