The multi-vitamin has caused one of the biggest debates in the health and fitness industry. On the surface, it sounds like a great idea. What if there was a simple way to fill the gaps of the nutrients you miss throughout the day. When you take a closer look, there’s much more to this story than you’d expect. Let’s take a look at whether you should be taking a multivitamin as determined by the experts.
Why Such a Big Dose?
One of the first things you’ll notice when you buy a multivitamin is the large dose that you’re getting for each vitamin and mineral. Is it necessary to put 500 times the amount you need on a daily basis?
Actually yes and it all comes down to nutrient absorption. Synthetic vitamins and minerals aren’t easy for the body to absorb. Out of that giant dose, your body will only absorb a fraction of a fraction. While you get to absorb a bit of the nutrient, this will pose a few problems, which we’ll talk about below.
The Pros of the Multivitamin
Let’s lay out the positive side of taking a multivitamin. Unfortunately, the positives that have been discovered are few and far between. There are two benefits that have shown the most promise in regards to research and studies.
First, one long term study determined that taking a multi-vitamin on a daily basis may help prevent the onset of certain diseases. Most notably has been heart disease. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that multivitamin use correlated with a lower incidence of heart disease in men. This study took place over 20 years.
The other potential benefit has to do with short term memory. A study in Australia determined that using a multivitamin may aid with short term memory.
The Cons of the Multivitamin
The dark side of the multivitamin has everything to do with what we mentioned above. When you are taking in massive doses of synthetic vitamins and minerals, you’re putting yourself at risk. This is especially true if your daily meals already provide you with sufficient nutrients.
Many people have this idea that more is better but that’s rarely true. If you are ingesting too much of a certain nutrient, you may be compromising the absorption of others. The result could be that you wind up deficient in that other nutrient. Worst case scenario is poisoning yourself, which requires immediate hospitalization and the consequences are unpredictable because amounts vary in different multivitamins.
Should I take a Multivitamin?
The only time one can whole heartedly say “yes” is when someone’s basic dietary needs are severely deficient. It’s unlikely if you are living in the Western world but if you are extremely deficient in several areas of nutrients then a multivitamin, preferably whole foods-based, may be of benefit to your health.
Food can’t be replaced by a pill. The best way to support your health is to eat a healthy diet. If a supplement is needed, it should be an isolated supplement such as Vitamin B12 if you are following a vegan diet.
In other words, eat well and you’ll be fine.
Tell Us What You Think!
Do you take a multivitamin?
What benefits do you get from it?
Let us know in the comments below!
Susanne Rautiainen, Pamela M Rist, Robert J Glynn, Julie E Buring, J Michael Gaziano, and Howard D Sesso. Multivitamin Use and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Men. The Journal of Nutrition. April 27, 2016, doi: 10.3945/jn.115.227884.