Multivitamins get their name because they contain many different (i.e. multiple) vitamins. They usually contain several minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids as well. Multivitamins are also the most commonly used supplements in the world!
Do you take multivitamins? Why or why not?
In today’s post, I will cover some of the benefits of multivitamins and reasons you may want to take them. I will also discuss some of the arguments against using them. This balanced review should arm you with the information you need to decide whether they are right for you personally.
Many people think that if you follow a balanced diet, you’ll get enough vitamins and minerals and that multivitamins just create “expensive pee.” I would love to believe it … but it’s just not true. Most people are eating too much processed food and are deficient in nutrients (i.e. overfed and undernourished). And even for those eating close to a “perfect” diet, recent decades have seen nutrient depletions in our food.
What I mean is that the number of vitamins and minerals in our produce has steadily declined over the past few decades. That carrot you ate a few decades ago contained a lot more nutrition than the one you are eating today. The reductions amount to between 15 and 40% depending on the nutrient being studied.
In addition, the increase in our stress hormones and the high level of toxins in our environment mean that our bodies demand additional nutrients to manage our hormone balance and deal with these toxins.
Health Benefits of Multivitamins
Multivitamins as a supplement have been studied a lot, however, the results have been inconsistent. Nonetheless, a number of positive health benefits have been found such as:
- Improved moods,
- Improved memory and cognitive performance,
- Reduced risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and
- Slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.
In most research, the multivitamins studied are ones that are very popular, inexpensive and widely available. They are often “one a day” brands for easy compliance. These are not necessarily the best ones for our health. For instance, the Centrum brand is commonly included in studies and is of particularly poor quality.
Therefore, it is important to use a multivitamin that contains the most usable forms (you can see the form on the label). And typically, taking more than one dose a day is better since the water-soluble vitamins only stay in our system for a limited period of time.
Is There a Downside to Multivitamins?
The main downside to taking a multi is that because it typically contains a large number of vitamins and minerals, it only contains very small amounts of each. And this typically does not result in therapeutic benefits.
So, if you are experiencing specific symptoms, you should be working with a practitioner to identify the root causes of your issues and determine which nutrients you need to take in therapeutic doses.
Are Multivitamins Safe?
Because multivitamins have such low doses of various nutrients, studies have consistently shown that they are very safe for most people. It is always important to stick with the dose on the label unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner to advise you otherwise.
There have been many times when supplements (not just multivitamins) have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what’s on the label. Either different quantities or different ingredients altogether.
This is why choosing supplements that are licensed (like in Canada), and from reputable companies is so important.
Multivitamins do not replace a poor diet. Also, they do not contain enough of a specific vitamin or mineral to provide a therapeutic dose. However, beneficial outcomes have been shown in studies and they’re also safe (as long as you have a quality product).
Not sure if a multivitamin is for you? Perhaps you have specific symptoms and you would like to figure out the root cause? Book a free 20-minute call with Bonnie here to discuss your options.