Fun fact about me is that I work full time for a dietary supplement company. So when it comes to vitamins and supplements I know a lot of the ins and outs. I have seen firsthand their popularity increase rapidly over the past few years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multivitamins are the most commonly used supplements in the world, and some people believe that multivitamins can improve health, compensate for poor eating habits, and even reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Are these benefits true?
What Are Multivitamins?
Multivitamins are supplements that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and other ingredients. There is no set standard for what constitutes a multivitamin so the ingredients vary by brand and product.
What Do Multivitamins Contain?
Multivitamins offer many of the 13 vitamins and 16 minerals essential for your health. Because dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, multivitamins may contain higher or lower levels of some nutrients than the label states. The supplement industry is notorious for fraud, so it is important to purchase your vitamins from a reputable manufacturer and through a company that third party tests their supplements. Nutrients in multivitamins may be derived from real foods or created synthetically in laboratories.
Who Should Take a Multivitamin?
Multivitamins aren’t right for everyone and may harm some individuals. For example, people undergoing radiation therapy should not take any vitamins or supplements with antioxidant properties.
However, certain populations may benefit from multivitamins, including:
- Older adults may need more Vitamin D, calcium, and Vitamin B12
- Vegans and Vegetarians need to take Vitamin B12 as it is only found in animal foods
Multivitamins are not a ticket to optimal health. If you have a nutrient deficiency, it is best to supplement with that specific nutrient. You shouldn’t take a multivitamin to fix a poor diet. Eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods is much more likely to ensure good health over the long term.