January 16 /Madison, N.J./PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While the majority of Americans believe they are very or somewhat knowledgeable about multivitamins (67%), many do not know which vitamins and minerals are essential for the body or what vitamins and minerals are responsible for specific functions in the body, according to a survey released by the not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).

When asked which vitamin or mineral is essential for calcium absorption in the body (vitamin D), more than a third of those surveyed said they were not sure. Surprisingly, when asked to identify vitamins and minerals that are not essential, only 44% correctly recognized that arsenic -- a poison -- is not an essential nutrient.

"When it comes to ensuring people get the vitamins and minerals they need in their daily diet, we were concerned by their lack of knowledge -- especially among women, who are more likely to take an active role in promoting their family's health," says Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, executive vice president of NWHRC. "We want people to have the knowledge and resources to understand what their bodies should have and to help them choose a multivitamin that fits their needs if they are not getting the right nutrients from their diet."

In fact, about a quarter of Americans (24%) believe they get the vitamins and minerals they need by diet alone, but this is simply not the case -- and although 51% of the individuals surveyed said take a multivitamin, most of them do not know which vitamins and minerals are essential for their bodies.

Getting What the Body Needs
Taking a multivitamin is a simple step everyone can do to ensure they are getting the vitamins they need, if they are not getting the nutrients they need from their diet alone, and knowing those vitamins is half the challenge.

"People should know what vitamins and minerals their bodies need, so they can make informed health decisions," says Dr. Pamela Peeke, an internationally recognized physician, scientist and expert in the field of nutrition. "There are specially formulated multivitamins that have a balance of essential nutrients at recommended levels, that work together to help people better customize their nutritional regimen."

Many do not realize that multivitamin use can help promote and maintain good health, fill gaps in the diet and help bodies to function well.

The survey uncovered that 49% of Americans are very or somewhat concerned about LDL or bad cholesterol. "The good news is now there is a complete, daily multivitamin with phytosterols that is specifically designed to help lower LDL or bad cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease -- the number-one killer of American women," says Peeke.

From the January 21, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash