There has been some debate in recent years over the effectiveness of multivitamins, as well as whether or not everyone should be taking one for general health support.
The truth is that getting 100% of the required vitamins and minerals daily can be tough, and even on our best days, we usually miss the mark. A high-quality multivitamin can help ensure that you’re consistently getting the right micronutrients in your daily routine before deficiencies begin to arise.
Deficiencies in essential vitamins such as vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin E can lead to a range of health issues. Multivitamin use may help to reduce the risk of having a deficiency. Especially if you don't get enough of these important nutrients through your diet alone.
That’s why many nutritionists, such as Dr. Audrey Cross, Associate Clinical Professor of Nutrition at Columbia's School of Public Health (and one of the most sought-after nutrition authorities in the U.S.), regularly recommend multivitamins to their patients as a nutritional “safety net” as they age.
The generally accepted consensus is that multivitamins should not be used in place of a nutritionally balanced diet, but in conjunction with it. Using them this way can do wonders to help fill in nutritional gaps.
In other words, you can’t lead an unhealthy lifestyle and expect a multivitamin alone to prevent health issues. But, taking vitamin and mineral supplements certainly can make a big difference when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices.
These healthy lifestyle choices include staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest to help support your overall health. Taking care to reduce stress and looking after your sleep patterns are also important things to consider.
Some groups of people that may find taking a multivitamin supplement particularly helpful include:
1) Vegans and vegetarians
Because they can be difficult to find from plant sources alone, vitamins like B12 are important supplements for those who follow plant-based diets.
2) Adults over 50
Our nutritional requirements generally change as we age. Some older adults may find it difficult to meet the requirements of certain nutrients through food alone.
3) Pregnant or lactating women
The nutritional needs for women who are pregnant or lactating differ from those who are not. Care should be taken to ensure that these needs are met and the recommended levels of vitamins and minerals are fulfilled.
4) Followers of low-calorie diets
Following a very low-calorie diet may make it harder to meet the daily recommended values of certain vitamins and minerals.
5) Women planning to become pregnant
It is generally advised that women of childbearing age who wish to become pregnant should avoid nutritional deficiencies and pay extra attention to certain vitamins and minerals.
6) People living in certain climates
Those living in regions where there is limited sunlight for most of the year may need to supplement their diets to ensure they get enough vitamin D.
7) Anyone eliminating entire food groups
This can include, for example, people avoiding certain foods due to allergies or sensitivities.
There are a variety of health benefits to taking multivitamins and consistency is key. It might take some time for supplements to begin working. Taking them on a regular basis is more likely to lead to better results than just popping a pill here and there.
It's usually a good idea to double-check what the label says to make sure you're taking the right amount of the supplements. This can also help reduce the risk of taking too many. Before you begin taking supplements it's also not a bad idea to consult a healthcare professional on whether you should take one every day.
Remember to also store your multivitamins correctly so that you can reap their benefits for longer. Some studies suggest that factors like humidity and varying temperatures can impact certain vitamin supplements such as vitamin C.
Unfortunately, not all multivitamins are created equally. Like with any health supplement, there are many varying levels of value and quality when it comes to choosing a multivitamin.
It’s always helpful to have some basic knowledge when shopping for high-quality multivitamins. Doing a little bit of research beforehand can help in choosing a brand that prioritizes quality ingredients, safe manufacturing methods, and carries out third-party testing. Be wary of companies that make claims of curing health issues like heart disease or other chronic diseases.
In most cases, it’s best to consult with a medical professional to decide exactly which individual needs should be met by your multivitamin.
We all try our best to eat a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients. But when it comes to tracking exact servings of all required daily vitamins, it’s safe to say that most of us just don’t have the time.
Our modern society strives on overly-packed schedules and on-the-go meals, and despite our best efforts, we might often unintentionally fall short on daily vitamin and mineral recommendations.
Researchers also suggest that the food we consume now is less nutrient-dense than it used to be. Findings in a key study conducted in 2004, suggested that the nutritional content of some fruits and vegetables had dropped since the 1950s. This included, for example, the amount of vitamin C and iron found in many garden crops.
Multivitamins can act as a safety net, filling in nutritional gaps before they cause any serious deficiencies down the line.
In order to get the most benefits out of your multivitamin, it’s best to choose one specifically tailored to your own personal needs. Factors such as age, gender, and underlying health issues should be considered when choosing a multivitamin supplement.
Our individual needs can vary greatly throughout our lifetime and can be impacted by many factors, including any existing health conditions or medications. For example, older adults may have a difficult time naturally getting sufficient amounts of vitamins such as B-12, vitamin D, and calcium.
For example, folate (or folic acid) supplementation is generally considered important for pregnant women. According to the CDC, folic acid can be important in helping to prevent some birth defects (such as spina bifida). They state that women need about 400 mcg of folic acid every day. This supplement is suggested for women of childbearing age, but may not be as important for people who are not of childbearing age.
As a general rule, it's good practice to consult your physician for advice before you take multivitamins. They can usually recommend what nutrients you may need and help you choose a suitable multivitamin supplement for you. It might be a good idea to check the amounts of each of the nutrients advertised on the label so that you can be sure that the multivitamin will meet your needs.
Although there is technically no exact right or wrong time to take your multivitamin, there are some general guidelines that will help you to get the most benefit.
Generally speaking, taking your vitamin each day, around the same time earlier in the day, can help to make taking multivitamins into a habit. This might be useful for you especially if you often find yourself forgetting to take supplements. This can help you gain more benefits in the long term.
It is also usually recommended to take a multivitamin after a meal. It’s best to avoid taking it on an empty stomach, as this could be harsh on your digestive system or even cause the multivitamin to pass through your system too quickly.
When in doubt, be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
Often used interchangeably, vitamins and minerals are actually two entirely different things. Minerals refer to inorganic compounds (such as iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and manganese), and vitamins refer to organic compounds essential for good health (such as vitamin E, vitamin A, or vitamin C).
The main difference between vitamins and minerals is that vitamins are much more delicate and since they are organic, can be broken down with age or heat. The human body needs vitamins for optimal health, whereas only certain minerals are needed for vital nutrition.
Many multivitamin supplements contain both vitamins and minerals to help people meet the recommended amounts of each.
While vitamins and minerals are essential for our health, it is in fact possible to have too much of a good thing. Always make sure to check the label to make sure that you take the recommended daily dose. Be careful not to exceed the amount recommended. Long-term use of extremely high doses of some vitamins can do more harm than good.
When starting a new supplement regimen or considering a multivitamin in conjunction with any existing medical conditions, it’s always important to first consult with your personal physician or dietitian for individualized medical advice. Want to learn more about our premium Primal Multivitamin? Click here.
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