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 our required vitamins and minerals 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.
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 general consensus today is that multivitamins should not be used in place of a nutritionally balanced diet, but in conjunction with it, 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 illness, but these supplements certainly can make a big difference when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices.
1) Vegans and vegetarians
2) Adults over 50
3) Pregnant or lactating women
4) Individuals with certain illnesses
5) Women planning to become pregnant
6) Anyone eliminating entire food groups (food allergies, sensitivities, etc)
Unfortunately, not all multivitamins are created equally. Similarly to 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 a high-quality multivitamin. 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, nutrient-rich diet, 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 will often unintentionally fall short on daily vitamin recommendations. A multivitamin 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 benefit out of your multivitamin, it’s best to choose one specifically tailored to your needs (based on age, gender, etc).
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 will have a difficult time naturally getting sufficient amounts of vitamins such as B-12, vitamin D, and calcium.
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, and after a meal is usually recommended. It’s best to avoid taking a multivitamin on an empty stomach, as this could be harsh on your digestive system or even cause the vitamin 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 vitamins E, A, C, etc).
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. Our bodies require all vitamins for optimal health, whereas only certain minerals are needed for vital nutrition.
When considering a multivitamin in conjunction with any existing medical conditions, it’s always important to first consult with your personal physician or dietitian before starting a new regimen.