Are Multivitamins Actually Good for You?
There are many reasons why you might take a multivitamin — whether to supplement your diet with key nutrients, help manage food cravings and support healthy weight loss, or encourage bone health and disease prevention. But have you ever wondered if multivitamins are actually effective? According to Science Daily, the most common vitamin supplements taken — vitamin D, vitamin C, and calcium — provide no chemical, health, or lifestyle benefits for frequent users. Below, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of taking multivitamins.
Do Multivitamins Work?
The answer to whether or not multivitamins work is a little more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Evidence is mixed across the board depending on factors like age, lifestyle, and pre-existing health conditions. However, there seems to be a consensus among health researchers that there aren’t any preventative health benefits to taking a multivitamin. Because many common multivitamins (especially those in solid pill form) are water-soluble, they are filtered out of your system via your urine.
The Pros & Cons of Multivitamins
While evidence for the effectiveness of multivitamins among certain populations is mixed, there are still pros and cons to taking them, depending on your circumstance.
- Accessibility: many multivitamins are available over-the-counter at many drug stores, making them a cheap and accessible option for the right population.
- Symptom management: if you suffer from a vitamin deficiency like anemia, adding a supplement on top of a modified diet can help mitigate symptoms and improve your nutrition.
- Prevention: in the case of people at high risk of certain conditions due to lifestyle, age, or health, the right multivitamin can prevent or slow the onset of certain conditions, including reducing hair loss and muscle deterioration.
- Overdose: it can be easy to overdose on multivitamins, as measuring the exact vitamins and minerals you’re getting from your diet is hard without the help of a professional. Symptoms of vitamin overdose can include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and more.
- Water- and fat-soluble: Many pill vitamin supplements are either water- or fat-soluble. This means that they are either filtered out through your urine, negating most of their effectiveness, or, in the case of fat-soluble vitamins, stored in your fat cells and unable to be processed.
- Regulations: Vitamin supplements in the U.S. do not have to be approved by the FDA to be sold to consumers. This poses some serious questions to consumers about the regulation process, proven effectiveness, and ethical production.
Should You Take a Multivitamin?
The question of “should you take a multivitamin?” can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” either. The truth is that the effectiveness of multivitamins across the spectrum is entirely dependent on your lifestyle, age, and health risk factors. Below are listed some of the common motivations behind taking multivitamins.
Maintaining a Well-Rounded Diet
Because our bodies are highly efficient at processing the foods we eat, food is usually the best and most effective way to get the nutrients you need. However, if you follow certain exclusionary diets, like vegetarianism or veganism, consult your doctor about the benefits of taking multivitamins with B12, which is found primarily in red meats, Omega-3s, found primarily in fish, and iron to combat malnutrition and deficiencies.
Promoting Weight Loss
There are certain supplements marketed toward weight loss and appetite suppression that may have the same shortcomings as multivitamins. Some dietary weight loss supplements can result in severe symptoms like dehydration. This is because the supplements are diuretics that can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Similarly, drinks and supplements marketed as ‘detox’ are often water-soluble, meaning any vitamins contained therein will be filtered out in your urine almost immediately.
If you’re looking to lose weight in a healthy manner, contact your doctor before you take any supplements, decrease the amounts of saturated fats, sugars, and salts you eat, and increase your exercise regimen.
Managing Certain Health Issues
Depending on who you are, multivitamins can be effective in managing certain health risks and symptoms. The right vitamin can help you manage thinning hair, and multivitamins like folic acid or B vitamins can help prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke in the elderly. When looking to manage your health, make sure you consult your doctor before you start taking any additional supplements to make sure you’re doing what is right for your body.
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If you aren’t at an increased health risk, you don’t partake in an exclusionary diet, and you aren’t over the age of 50, chances are that you don’t need a multivitamin to support your health. If you are concerned about your health or do need a diet supplement, then talk to your doctor, and make sure you do your research to find the supplement that will do you the most good without wasting your money.