It seems like a simple thing to buy a multivitamin. You go into your local drugstore or the pharmacy aisle of your supermarket, pick up a “one a day” multi and you’re on your way.
There is no doubt that multivitamins are one of the, if not the, most popular supplement on the market. A recent poll indicates that around 3/4ths of all adults in the U.S. are currently taking one in some form or another. They can be a great way to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need that you may be lacking in your diet.
However, there is a question in the science community on whether or not taking a supplement like this is actually necessary. Continue reading below to find out if you need one, and how to find the best one if so.
Do You Need a Multivitamin?
There are a couple of studies that have been published in recent years regarding this topic, as detailed below:
- A study in 2019 at Tufts University in Boston reports that taking a supplement does not necessarily add years to your life, however, getting those nutrients from food sources could.
- Another study in 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that taking a multivitamin supplement will not lower your risk of stroke or heart disease.
So given what those studies above say, do you really need to take a multivitamin?
The answer is yes and no. I’ll explain. If you aren’t eating healthy, then absolutely, you should be taking a multivitamin to get the nutrients that you are lacking from food sources. However, if you are eating a well-rounded diet complete with fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, carbohydrates, dairy, and others, you are probably getting all the vitamins and minerals you need through your diet.
That said, you don’t have to swear away multivitamins altogether. If you are unsure of whether or not you could benefit from taking one, you can visit your family physician and get blood work done to check your levels and see if you have deficiencies anywhere. Your doctor will also take into account your genetics, family history, and your diet and make a recommendation.
What to Look for in a Multivitamin
If you feel that you need to take this supplement, there are a few things that you should be looking for. The first thing you want to do is make sure you read the label. If the company is making wild claims that seem too good to be true, then you should be skeptical. Multivitamins are regulated by the FDA, but not as a medicine. Under this designation, nothing is stopping manufacturers from saying whatever they want on the label. Be skeptical if something sounds outlandish.
Another thing to be mindful of is the daily value of vitamins and minerals that it provides. There is too much of a good thing, even when it comes to nutrients. With how easy it is to take a multi, you can easily go way overboard on your daily recommended amount of certain vitamins and minerals. Be careful and use them as directed, and take into consideration what amount you are getting from food sources.
Lastly, pay attention to the ingredients. First, if you have any allergies, make sure that it does not contain anything you are allergic to. On top of that, avoid multivitamins that contain titanium dioxide (which is correlated with kidney damage, inflammation, and possibly cancer), carrageenan (another inflammatory), as well as artificial colors. The more natural the formula, the better!
As for my recommendation, I review a number of the best multivitamins here.