Multivitamins are dubbed as a miraculous drug which helps everything, from the process of losing weight to expanding your lifespan. But, some physicians believe they come with potential, serious side effects, such as the danger of toxicity. These experts doubt if buying multivitamins is actually buying an “expensive pee”, in other words, a total waste of money.
This is clearly a polarizing debate, but whose side will you take? Are you going to believe these “anti-multi” experts, or you’re going to keep your initial onion about multivitamins?
By the time you read the top highlights from the evidence in this post, you will hopefully know what’s best for you.
A Note from Food Matters’ Story
Authors of Food Matters have interviewed health experts from around the world, to find the answer they needed to help one of the authors’ father. Namely, he was suffering from debilitating depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, and fibromyalgia for around 5 years. According to the medical profession, he had no hope of recovery.
Something that was constantly repeating on these interviews was the role of supplementation and vitamin therapy. The interviewers first looked at this as something ‘unnatural’ and anti-intuitive, but as they learned that big nutrient depletion can throw the human body out of balance, they realized supplementation can indeed help restore the wellness and the overall health of people.
The authors of Food Matters witnessed the power of supplementation at first-hand, especially when someone is sick. They designed a supplementation plan extremely carefully, with integrated practitioners and under medical supervision. The result is restored wellness of the ill father, who’s in a vibrant health now.
But the authors themselves also take high-quality supplements as their personal health insurance. They say the difference when they skip supplements for several days is noticeable.
Mark Hyman, MD, explains that supplementation is not necessary ONLY if you consume fresh, wild, organic, whole, local, non-GMO food, grown in virgin nutrient and mineral soils, not produced in distant countries and stored for months before consumption… breathe only clean, unpolluted air, work and live outside, drink just pure water, move your body every day, sleep 9 hours a night, and are free from exposures to environmental toxins and chronic stressors.
A Background on Multivitamins
Multivitamins are supplements that should supply our most needed minerals and vitamins. This capsule includes the vital nutrients we need to maintain health, sustain life, and perform everyday functions.
Vitamins work as coenzymes to ease the metabolic processes involved in making energy, protecting DNA, repairing cellular damage, etc. They are in a way the ‘worker bees’ of human’s psychological systems.
It seems that people care about supplying their body with enough vitamins, as 1/3 of people in U.S. are currently taking a multivitamin. 70% of them are at the age of 65 or older, and contribute to the $12 billion annual multivitamin bill.
The Advantages of Taking Multivitamins
Sealing the nutritional gaps in our diet is one of the major advantage of taking multivitamins.
The purpose of multivitamins is to supplement these nutritional gaps, and not to replace the entire role of whole foods in providing our body with the primary nutrition. In fact, that is what the very name ‘supplement’ suggests.
One research suggests that mineral and vitamin supplementation can protect against health problems and diseases connected to chronic nutrient deficiencies. Some of these benefits are:
- Better energy
- Enhanced memory
- Clearer skin
- Maintenance of muscle strength
- Reduced risk of nutritional deficiencies
- Less stress
- Stronger bones
- Superior cognitive functioning
- Improved sexual function
Supplements are not created to replace whole foods, but multivitamins can replace just the missing nutrients which even the most modern and healthies diets can lack.
Food Isn’t Made The Way It Used To Be!
Our great-grandparents had so much more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables than the ones we have today. The reason is because industrialized farming methods have deprived soil of vital nutrients. That’s why crops grown in the past were more nutrient-dense than the fresh one we consume nowadays.
One study demonstrated the importance of this difference. Here are the nutrient declines that have been measured in fresh vegetables from 1975 to 1997.
- Iron – 37%
- Calcium – 12%
- Vitamin C – 30%
- Vitamin A – 21%
This means that even if you try to follow a well-balanced diet, there’s a good risk of not getting all the required nutrients on a daily basis, which are more than 40.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans point out that the US population has high risk for lack of potassium, fiber, vitamin D, potassium, and calcium. Based on this evidence, the Harvard School of Public Health and Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University have released recommendations to take multivitamins on a daily basis.
The Potential Disadvantages of Taking Multivitamins
The opinions against taking multivitamins are divided.
In addition to the well-studied minerals, vitamins, and macronutrients, food contains thousands of other phytochemicals. The role of these bioactive compounds, experts say, is not entirely known. They believe a capsule can’t mimic the natural food composition.
According to certain researches, multivitamins can’t provide protection against cognitive decline, chronic disease, and aging. Other experts state that high doses of certain multivitamins can cause toxicity.
Should You Take A Multivitamin?
These are the primary at-risk groups for mineral or vitamin deficiencies:
- You have a rather unhealthy diet (due to recent illness that has reduced your appetite, or travelling)
- If you eat restrictively or you’re on a diet, there’s a greater risk of not getting all the vital nutrients.
- If you avoid dairy, grains/gluten, meat, and other whole food groups, you are changing your nutrient intake.
In case you belong in one or more of these risk-groups, taking a multivitamin on a daily basis might be a smart move for your health.
What to Look For In a Multivitamin
Take into consideration the following things when choosing a multivitamin:
- Choose the most bioavailable forms of the minerals and vitamins provided by the supplement.
- Read the label carefully to see the dose provided by the supplement. Some brands supply vitamins and minerals in sub-clinical doses. Meanwhile, high doses of certain nutrients are toxic, so be careful when choosing a multivitamin.
- Choose a supplement from a company known to produce high-quality vitamins, and one which has a good reputation.
- Check where the supplement is coming from. Even if it’s synthetic supplement, it’s fine as long as it’s super bioavailable, of high quality, and serve certain therapeutic purpose. However, be careful as some supplements can have bad source. For instance, fish oil comes from farmed fish with potential contamination of mercury.
- Generally, cheaper brands are more likely to contain preservatives, fillers, artificial colors, and other additives. Do a bit of research before choosing a cheaper multivitamin.
Note: Consult an integrated healthcare practitioner if you have a history of complex diseases or you take any prescription drug prior to choosing a multivitamin.
Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are well-stored in our body and have more chances to cause toxicity. Therefore, never take high doses of them without professional guidance.
We hope this will help you get another perspective on the potential multivitamin benefits.