Benefits of Taking a Multi Vitamin
There are several promises that are made around multi-vitamins. You’ve probably been told that they can help you lose weight, improve energy levels, increase your performance, reduce stress and even slow down aging.
Just look at a multi-vitamin advertisement or promotion and you’ll most likely come across at least one of these phrases. If you were to look at the packaging, you’d find all these promises mentioned there.
Now, the question is, do multi-vitamins really offer all these benefits? Or, is it just hype? Can consuming multi-vitamins really make up for a bad diet or help you burn away all that stubborn fat?
Medical experts state that multi-vitamins definitely have a role to play in our health. However, they are not meant to replace entire diets. Rather, multi-vitamins fill up the gaps that our normal diets cannot. Multi-vitamins are nothing but “supplements”. They are added to your existing diet.
They cannot serve as replacements for normal food intake. Multi-vitamins cannot and do not provide all the nutrients required by the human body. According to Roberta Anding, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, real health can only be obtained through the “plate” and not just through the “pill”.
Dietician Karen Ansel states the same thing. She also adds that food is the only source through which we can obtain important nutrients such as fibre or phytochemicals. These nutrients come together to offer health benefits that cannot be sourced from a single pill or even a mixture of multiple supplements.
So, let us now try and understand how beneficial multi-vitamins really are.
Benefits of multi-vitamins
Multi-vitamins, as stated earlier, come into the picture only when normal food intake does not provide certain essential nutrients. This could include nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, calcium, or vitamin B12. The only way to compensate for that loss is to consume multi-vitamin supplements.
This is because the nutrients that we may tend to miss out on normally are actually very important for the body. For example, not getting a certain type of vitamin or mineral can lead to a deficiency. The deficiency can then further lead to the development of other severe medical conditions.
• An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published study showed that adding multi-vitamin supplements to a regular diet helped adults meet their daily requirement for minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. A normal diet may not have provided the same benefits.
• In another study involving children and adolescents from the ages of 9 to 18, multi-vitamin supplements were able to provide important nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, phosphorous, and magnesium. However, with a normal diet, these children and adolescents wouldn’t have received these nutrients in required quantities. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Health.
There also been many studies conducted to understand the role and effect of multi-vitamins with regard to human health. These studies have, time and again, proven that there are many benefits to having a multi-vitamin supplement along with a regular diet.
• A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that adding vitamin D and calcium supplements to the diet helped minimize fractures and improve bone density in post-menopausal women.
• Another study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that women who consumed multivitamins with minerals for a period of three years or more enjoyed a lower risk of developing heart disease.
When does one need to consume multi-vitamins?
Though, studies have shown that adding multi-vitamin supplements can fill up the nutrient gaps left behind by regular diets, the actual benefits of consuming multi-vitamins is still unclear. However, studies have shown that there are some benefits.
Now, that brings us to the question of when we should consume multi-vitamins.
Well, before we opt for multi-vitamins, we must first focus on our daily food intake.
The primary focus must be to obtain as much nutrition as possible from our regular food intake. For that to happen, we must be conscious about our food buying decisions. Always opt for products that are rich in nutrients. Another thing to keep in mind is to go for a varied diet. There are plenty of food guides available on the internet to help you with this. These food guides can educate you about which foods and food products are high in nutritional value.
We must also focus on our dietary habits. That means we must make a note of what we eat or don’t eat. For example, are we eating only one particular type of vegetable? Is there a food group that we are avoiding?
If you do notice that there are certain food groups missing from your diet, then find out what nutrients these food groups contain. Once you find that out, you can supplement those nutrients with multi-vitamins. For example, people who do not consume the recommended daily dairy intake must compensate by taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.
If you’re not sure of what nutrients you are missing out on, then it is safer to take a multivitamin every day. This is generally safer than consuming a mix of multiple supplements. Consuming too many supplements can cause you to cross the recommended safety limits, in which case, some of the supplements might reach levels of toxicity.
When choosing multi-vitamins, it is best to choose one that offers 100% of the daily value or less. This should be enough to address the nutrient deficit.
If you are an individual who consumes high amounts of junk food (foods rich in sugars and fats) then consuming multi-vitamins isn’t going to be of any help. You require a complete change of diet. In this scenario, talking to your doctor or a dietician is advisable.
It is also necessary to maintain the limits when consuming multi-vitamins. As stated earlier, some nutrients can become toxic if consumed beyond the maximum suggested limit.
Studies have shown that most people are deficient in nutrients such as vitamin D, potassium, and calcium. Though these nutrients are available in certain food products, dietary restrictions may prevent some people from obtaining them. In this case, it is not a bad idea to compensate by consuming multi-vitamin supplements.
Who requires multi-vitamin supplements?
People who do not get the 40 or more necessary nutrients in their diet require multi-vitamins. Other than that, there are specific groups of people that must consider taking multi-vitamins seriously. This includes:
• Women who are pregnant or lactating.
• Vegetarian or vegans.
• Individuals who are following a low-calorie diet.
• People suffering from conditions such as cancer or have a history of cancer.
• Individuals with food allergies.
• Individuals who have an aversion to certain foods or are choosy about what they eat.
• People who are heavily medicated.
• People who generally have a poor diet.
So, from what we can see, it is obvious that multi-vitamins offer benefits. However, the context in which they are consumed also plays a key role here. Multi-vitamins are not food products by themselves. They specifically address certain nutrient gaps that occur as a result of an incomplete diet.