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Do Multivitamins Actually Work?

Do Multivitamins Actually Work?
Myprotein
World’s leading online sports nutrition brand2 months ago
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Many of us have likely taken supplements before - even if you haven’t always been a fitness buff or super focused on your nutrition. One of the most common supplements on the market are multivitamins - but are they good for you? Are multivitamins actually worth taking?

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What are multivitamins?

The basis of taking a multivitamin is to give your body a head-start on all of the nutrients it needs for the day, just in case your diet isn’t hitting all the top marks. While you would ideally get all of the necessary nutrients from food, multivitamins provide a nice buffer to help fill in any deficiencies in your diet.

The term multivitamin doesn’t describe a standard, singular composition - there are many types of multivitamins aiding different needs and goals. Some are higher potency than others and some target specific nutrients, while others are broader to help you meet daily requirements. This article will discuss the benefits of multivitamins and help you determine whether or not a multivitamin is 1 - good for you and 2 - worth taking.

What are the benefits of multivitamins?

Multivitamins were designed to help supplement your daily intake of vitamins and minerals from food - the word “supplement” meaning to “add to” what you’re getting in your diet. So a supplement isn’t supposed to replace a healthy eating pattern, but rather fill in the gaps and help maximize your nutrition.

While considered a supplement, multivitamins are different from performance focused supplements like creatine, which is taken with one specific benefit in mind. The goal of using multivitamins is generally to get and stay as healthy as possible, keeping in mind that chronic deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can lead to health problems.

Many studies have shown potential benefits of multivitamins, including prevention serious illnesses that are linked with vitamin deficiencies.1 However, the greatest benefits of multivitamins have been shown in those who have low levels of the target vitamin/mineral before supplementation.1

Other benefits include:

Convenience

A multivitamin supplement contains multiple vitamins all rolled into one, so you can get a large concentration of essential vitamins, in one handy pill.

Cost-effective

Another benefit of multivitamins is that they are cost-effective. If you purchased the vitamins and minerals commonly found in multivitamins, individually, it would cost you a lot more than buying a multivitamin supplement.

Who would benefit most from multivitamins?

Because multivitamins are designed to make up for certain nutrients lacking in a person’s diet, certain groups who limit their intake of entire food groups or those who have health conditions that increase their need for certain nutrients have the greatest potential to benefit from a multivitamin.

Pregnant Women

During pregnancy, your body’s needs change as your baby develops. Prenatal multivitamins are often recommended to help meet not just the mother’s needs, but also the needs of the baby. Extra DHA (often in the form of fish oil) and folic acid are typically included for brain and nervous system development.2

Vegans and Vegetarians

When you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and avoid animal-based products, you may be missing out on the nutrients that meats and dairy products contribute to the diet.

B12, iron, and zinc are key nutrients to monitor if you follow these dietary patterns. If dairy is also avoided, vitamin D and calcium should also be considered in a multivitamin.3

For more supplements vegans should consider using, check out this article:

Aging Adults

As we age, our bodies become less efficient at digesting and absorbing some foods and other aging processes change our needs for some nutrients. Many older adults need more calcium and B12.

Some older adults also don’t have as much of an appetite as they get older. One study showed that taking a multivitamin actually slowed the aging process all the way down to the DNA level.4

Food allergies & intolerances

If you avoid entire food groups (dairy, grains) due to allergies or intolerances you may need to consider a multivitamin to make up for common nutrients in those foods.

B Vitamins are often added to many processed foods, like cereals, so those who eat gluten free diets may benefit from additional B vitamins.

Specialised Diets

If you’re following a keto style diet or a carnivore style diet, or any other eating pattern with major restrictions, take into consideration what nutrients you might be missing from the foods that you’re avoiding.

Often specialised diets restrict some fruits and vegetables, which are major sources of vitamins and minerals. Weigh up the risks and benefits of restrictive eating patterns and plan to optimise your nutrition with a multivitamin if appropriate.

If you're cutting carbs because that's what people online are doing, remember, they're not the enemy:

Health Conditions

Some chronic diseases change the way our bodies process, absorb, or utilise nutrients. If you are being treated for a long-term health condition, talk to your doctor about how it impacts your nutrition and ask if they recommend a multivitamin supplement.

Are there any negatives of multivitamins?

While the potential benefits of multivitamins are clear, it is also important to consider potential negatives of multivitamins.

Our bodies are efficient machines and can filter out some - but not all - extra intake of vitamins or minerals that we don’t need to use. However, taking megadoses (2-3 or more times the needed amount) of some nutrients can actually be detrimental to your health.

For example, too much iron can cause constipation and too much vitamin A can cause toxicity. Our liver and kidneys are quite efficient at filtering out waste, but many vitamins and minerals have “tolerable upper limits” set in addition to their recommended daily intake levels.

It is also important to consider your diet and check your multivitamin labels to make sure it is actually targeting the vitamins and minerals that you may need a boost of. Often times multivitamins are packed with 200 or 300% of the recommended daily amount of a vitamin - which doesn’t necessarily make them better.

Whilst some high doses can be detrimental to our health, others just get filtered out by our bodies and wasted.

Are multivitamins worth taking?

So, are multivitamins good for you? They certainly can help you meet the goal levels of nutrients based on your age, activity level, and health status. If you are on a restrictive diet for any reason, showing signs of deficiencies, or getting older, they’re also likely to be beneficial.

Why take individual vitamins?

Though the general consensus is that multivitamins are better, sometimes it is better to take individual vitamins, either alongside multivitamins or in place of. Here’s a look at the potential advantages of supplementing with individual vitamins.

Address vitamin deficiencies

If you suffer from a specific vitamin deficiency, i.e. a vitamin D deficiency, the dosages of vitamin D found in a multivitamin may not necessarily be enough. With individual vitamin D supplements, however, you know exactly how much of the vitamin you are getting, so you can increase the dosage as required. If using a multivitamin as well, make sure you factor in the vitamin D found in there, along with the individual supplement as well.

Great for specific medical conditions

If you suffer from a medical condition that requires a certain dosage of a specific vitamin, again, individual supps may be your best bet. This is because you can increase just one type of vitamin, whilst be keeping dosages of other vitamins stable.

Can multivitamins be overused?

Absolutely. Be a smart consumer and do your research (along with your consulting your GP) into which type of multivitamin might be the most effective for you and purchase from a reputable brand.

Multivitamins To Try

Multivitamin Gummies

It is a blend of 10 vitamins and minerals with a high vitamin C content which may help to preserve immunity. They come in delicious flavours such as strawberry and as they are chewable, they may be easier to consume if you struggle swallowing large tablets. Plus, they’re tasty so it’s much more difficult to forget to take them.

FAQs

What multivitamins should I take?

When you pick a multivitamin, you should look at the potency of the contents and select the one that best suits your needs.

Do Multivitamins work?

Multivitamins do work, but what works well for your friend might not be the best option for you. Different multivitamins contain different quantities of various vitamins, and each person may need a different dosage of certain vitamins than someone else.

Are multivitamins good for you?

Multivitamins are good for you if you take the recommended dosage and find one that works for you. Looking for somewhere to start? Check out our multivitamins.

Take home message

So, there’s your verdict – multivitamins are a great way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake, but you may need to take a closer look at your specific intakes. If you’re unsure what you need to take, consult a doctor or medical professional before making any decisions.

 

 

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

  1. Christen, W. G., Gaziano, J. M., Hennekens, C. H., PHYSICIANS, F. T. S. C. O., & STUDY II, H. E. A. L. T. H. (2000). Design of Physicians’ Health Study II—a randomized trial of beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and multivitamins, in prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and eye disease, and review of results of completed trials. Annals of epidemiology, 10(2), 125-134.
  2. Milunsky, A., Jick, H., Jick, S. S., Bruell, C. L., MacLaughlin, D. S., Rothman, K. J., & Willett, W. (1989). Multivitamin/folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy reduces the prevalence of neural tube defects. Jama, 262(20), 2847-2852.
  3. Baroni, L., Goggi, S., Battaglino, R., Berveglieri, M., Fasan, I., Filippin, D., … & Battino, M. A. (2019). Vegan nutrition for mothers and children: Practical tools for healthcare providers. Nutrients, 11(1), 5.
  4. Xu, Q., Parks, C. G., DeRoo, L. A., Cawthon, R. M., Sandler, D. P., & Chen, H. (2009). Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 89(6), 1857-1863.
Myprotein
World’s leading online sports nutrition brand
View Myprotein's profile
Founded around a kitchen table in 2004, Myprotein’s vision has always been to revolutionise how we power movement. In 2011 Myprotein became part of the THG family, and by 2016 we proudly claimed the title of the world’s leading online sports nutrition brand. Over the last 20 years, we’ve created game-changing supplements like Clear Whey and Dry Scoop Pre-Workout and launched new brands tailored to your needs including MP, Myvitamins, Myvegan and MyPRO. We exist to break boundaries. To help you cut through the noise in the fitness industry and get down to the information you can trust. Our blog features articles from trusted PT’s, nutritionists and dieticians with tons of experience in the industry. We listen to what topics you’re interested in, and dip into our pool of experts to give you information you can trust.
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