Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Should you take a Multivitamin? – The opinion of an amateur nutrition enthusiast

February 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Vitamins

multi-vitaminThe short answer is probably, but not for the reasons we usually hear about. While there is convincing evidence that one can get better nutrition from food sources, most of us (i.e., me) don’t eat right.

Better nutrition from food sources?

The typical vitamin company reason that today’s food is somehow less nutritious because the soil is depleted does not hold water. Plants have specific requirements in the way of soil nutrients, sunlight and water. If plants don’t get enough of these things, growth is stunted and production is reduced — if the plant survives at all. If farmers were planting in depleted soil, they would be unable to produce enough of their crop to afford to stay in business. They know this, so they add back nutrients through cover crops and fertilizers. Soil management science is quite advanced. Think of all the advice and products they have just to make lawn grass look greener!

Why is food a better source?

We really should all attempt to get all the nutrients we need from food. If you make a study of nutrition, you’ll find that the basic nutrition required for survival is readily available if you eat adequate proportions of meat, dairy, whole grains, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you delve further into the realm of antioxidants, then what jumps out is that one needs fruit and vegetable coverage by color (green, dark yellow, red, purple) as well as foods like tea, beans, citrus, cruciferous vegetables, and sources of resveratrol, Omega 3 and 6. The complex interworking of multiple micronutrients in these foods does not appear to have been studied completely. We can at this point make a couple of observations:

  • Vitamins give us a specific dosage of a specific nutrient, but not the entire nutritional value of the source food.
  • We see the effects of the Mediterranean and Asian diets on longevity, and they’re getting nutrients from food versus supplements.

It also seems like real food sources make it much less likely that we’d consume too much of a nutrient – something easy to do by going overboard with a supplement. While most extra nutrients are simply excreted and result only in a waste of money, some have some ugly consequences (read about Vitamin D). In addition, they keep coming out with more micronutrients that they’ve identified, so who knows what great stuff is in food that they haven’t even turned into a pill yet?

So why do I take supplements?

I do just that: supplement what I think I’m missing from my diet:

  • Vitamin D – I’m not outside enough to manufacture enough from sunshine and they’re now saying we should have more vitamin D than they thought before
  • Omega 3 & 6 – Because I don’t eat enough from food sources
  • Multivitamin with calcium – Except when I’m being particularly diligent in nutritious eating

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Comments

16 Responses to “Should you take a Multivitamin? – The opinion of an amateur nutrition enthusiast”
  1. Rebecca says:

    I was just thinking about this topic the other day when I came across my unopened daily vitamin bottle. I decided to open them and give them a try. I don’t always eat healthy and taking one makes me feel better (at least in my mind!)

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  2. Carolyn says:

    My multivitamin bottle sits on the kitchen counter because I think that if it’s not out-of-sight in a cabinet I am more likely to take one. That is not true. Sometimes weeks go by and the only time the bottle is touched is when I’m wiping the counter. Instead, I eat cereal with added vitamins or have a nice glass of ovaltine. Mmmm…chocolate milk…better than any pill!

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  3. Katie says:

    I always try to eat a good diet and use my multi as a back-up just in case! I do think extra Vit. D is important as well.

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  4. I know I should be taking a multi but I just can’t stand swallowing those huge pills. We eat pretty healthy but I know I don’t get all the nutrients I should. I’ll have to look into some supplements to see what I might need.

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  5. Angela says:

    I don’t eat right either. I don’t like the taste of vitamins – even that short period of time it takes to swallow them. I’ve opted for the new Centrum Chewables for adults!! No more flintstones for me!

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  6. jessica says:

    Multi-vitamins have always made me sick to my stomach :) I find that cooking balanced meals for my family and teaching my children the value of making “healthy choices” works best for our family. It all starts with the choices I make at the grocery store and shopping mostly on the outside of the store (i.e. just fresh ingredients – no processed foods). It is easier to fill our bodies with healty food and therefore good vitamins if that is what is available in the pantry at home!

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  7. CC says:

    I was talking to my mom about this yesterday. I don’t take a multi-vitamin, but feel guilty about that. I do feel like I should at least be taking calcium.

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  8. Priscilla says:

    My husband likes to say, “Better living through chemistry!”

    I try to eat healthy. I do better than I did 3 years ago but there is still room for improvement (ex. more veggies). I take my vitamins before bed. I got into the habit, taking the vitamins at night, during my pregnancy.

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  9. she says:

    as a recovered anorexic, but a habitually bad eater (aka, i eat only 1 – 2 times a day – and not good food) i pretty much get no nutrients from food. i’m almost 32 and i have been this way since age 18. my poor eating habit is very hard to break now that it is routine. i have come to rely on my daily vitamin and iron supplement, although i sometimes punish myself by not even taking the multi-vitamin. i can’t function without my iron, though.

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    • Peggy says:

      This sounds really sad that you say you punish yourself. I hope you are working with a therapist. I guess if I knew I was going to just eat junk food, I’d look for fortified ones like cereal and pop tarts, but would also try to make sure I was getting enough protein and calcium. I expect you know much more about this than I do, but I was under the impression that deficiencies of those two nutrients are the ones that cause the worst long-term damage.

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  10. Pamela S. says:

    I will admit it. I don’t take vitamins or eat the right foods. I have been up and down the scale all my life but have never been skinny. Reading the above comments, I need a good multi-vitamin and more.

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  11. Melanie says:

    I try to get all the vitamins and minerals from what I eat. Of course I don’t always eat what I should. Thats when I take multi-vitamins. I think getting what you need from fresh fruits and vegetables is best but that just doesn’t always happen. So I don’t take them daily, only when I make poor food choices.

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  12. Teresa says:

    This is something I’ve questioned for years. I never know what I should take because it seems the advice changes so often. I know we now need more Vit. D and the lack of enought Vit. D is linked to some cancers. But, do we actually get what we need from a pill? I think science and medicine will continue to discover new facts about our vitamin and mineral needs as time goes by.

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  13. Sharlita says:

    I believe the most nutritious way of life is eating regular foods. Sometimes that is not always possible so I am definitely not against vitamins. One thing I remember from being pregnant and taking those iron pills and prenatal vitamins is to not take it with milk because it slows absorption of the iron. I think it’s the vitamin D that blocks absorption of iron. But then what is the point of eating cereal fortified with iron when you pour milk in it? Also our bodies have a harder time getting iron out of grains such as cereal. You have to drink a juice with Vitamin C in order to help break the iron out of its “food” bond in order to utilize it. Humans can utilize the iron in meats and green vegetables much quicker than those in grains. Love the post, it got me thinking. Now I’m going to start taking Vitamin D. I stocked up a month ago from CVS when they had a great deal and I had no idea what to do with them.

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  14. AnyaT says:

    Great article and perfect for someone like me

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  15. Kimberly B. says:

    After reading the article, I feel like I really need to take a multi-vitamin.
    I don’t always eat like I should every day. I have multi-vitamins but frequently forget to take them.

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