Do You Need a Multivitamin?

January 1, 2016

Vitamin Heart HealthPeriodically, someone decides to rail against taking any form of daily multivitamins, despite the fact that doctors recommend them for many reasons, that studies show many Americans are at least bordering on deficiency if not deficient, and that most people have some specific health concern that more than justifies the need for a daily multivitamin!

I’m not sure why some people spend money fighting against what, in their own words, is at worst useless/harmless. I can’t really connect the dots on the motivations—I think it might be an issue of one or two people ruining it for everyone (I’m talking about those 1 or 2 who every few years manage to overdose on vitamins or minerals—because they aren’t more effective the more you take, they’re just step one on the “what can I do to feel better?” checklist, and too much exists for all things, even water).

Why is the idea that people don’t benefit from multivitamins wrong?

First, what’s sort of true: you can get all the nutrient the need from your diet. The more important issue is, are you?

You might be surprised to learn that at this point, research estimates that the MAJORITY of Americans are on some sort of special diet. Whether they’re cutting calories to lose weight, eliminating allergens, avoiding migraine triggers, following a doctor recommended heart healthy diet, just trying to be all-over-healthy (and following a specific diet), or are just suffering in solidarity with your loved ones, you probably aren’t eating as varied and rounded a diet as you ought to.

Then there’s this double edged sword: fast food and processed food are a huge part of the American economy—and it’s not the most nutritious way to eat. Sure, some of that is fortified, but there’s some disagreement about fortified foods benefit, and it doesn’t necessarily balance out the fried/processed/preservatives element.

And finally: we over-farm our soil. Some nutrients are added back in, but not all (especially not trace elements!). Soil quality varies a lot—regionally, by practice, by what’s been grown in it. I love using the example of potatoes to illustrate it: everyone’s had a super bland potato from the grocery store. Have you ever tasted one grown in a well-loved and cared for backyard garden? It’s got flavor. The texture is richer. It’s an entirely different food than what most people are used to (or, compare the rich flavor of many organic foods to most other foods, especially strawberries and tomatoes!).

A daily multivitamin helps fill all the gaps that varying diets and soil leave!

And then there’s all the various health concerns we ALL have. So many have a variety of gastrointestinal problems—inflammation, food intolerances, and chronic diseases that inhibit the ability to absorb nutrients.

And other ailments often benefit from additional nutrients. More antioxidants, more iron, more Vitamin D—because many of us work indoors during daylight hours.

One more thing—grocery store vitamins are frequently nothing but filler, or completely missing what the label claims, or even contaminated. There’s a reason they’re cheaper (and they can skew studies on the benefits of vitamins).

Certainly don’t go overboard—a daily multivitamin is a safety net, not a magic trick or cure all. But it’s important—it can be an answer to minor problems, or it can be support for bigger ones.

Why do you take a daily multivitamin?

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