Do you take a multivitamin? Why should you take a multivitamin? Are all multivitamins the same? These are all questions that you should ask before beginning taking a multivitamin. Multivitamins are becoming a more widely taken vitamin and mineral supplement that people use to supplement their diet. It was not until recently that more doctors have been recommending to take a multivitamin in your diet. Although, multivitamins should not replace whole foods but be part of a healthy diet. Multivitamins can bridge the gap between the foods that we eat and the nutrients that our bodies are lacking.
Multivitamins are available in all different shapes, sizes, colors, tablets, capsules, powders, liquids and injections. You can buy multivitamins at the grocery store, your local health food store, your doctor’s office or even online. Multivitamins became available in the 1930’s made by the dried and compressed concentrates of fruits and vegetables. It wasn’t until 1940 that synthetic vitamins and minerals were produced. Synthetic multivitamins are created in a laboratory. Multivitamins made from whole food concentrates are much more complete than synthetic vitamins because they contain additional nutrients from the fruits and vegetables such as phytochemicals and antioxidants. The US defines a multivitamin as any supplement containing 3 or more vitamins or minerals that doesn’t include herbs, hormones or drugs. Also the vitamins and minerals present in the supplement must be present at a lower dose than recommended daily values and present no risk of adverse health effects. Basic commercial multivitamins contain ingredients such as Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid (B9), B12, Vitamin H (biotin), Vitamin A, E, D3, and K. They normally contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and manganese.
One of the main reasons for prescription of multivitamins is the deficiency of some or all vitamins and minerals in the body. Vitamins and minerals are essential for health and well-being. A lack or deficiency of any or all vitamins and minerals can lead to weakness, disease and death. To keep the body functioning at optimal capacity, the body requires vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. The best way to consume vitamins and minerals is through food sources. However, the lack of food diversity, and the minimal servings of fruits and vegetables in our diet have lead to nutritional deficiencies. In some cases it’s due to a restrictive diets, limited access to a variety of foods or the adverse reluctance to eat certain foods (such as in childhood). Additionally, the increasing popular fast food, added stress, limited physical activity, and inadequate amount of time in the sun can cause depleted vitamin and mineral resources in the body.
Multivitamins can prevent nutritional deficiency by supplementing the vitamins and minerals that aren’t being received through food. Vitamins also combat stress, by increasing ones energy as the body works more efficiently. Multivitamins also reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Vitamins and minerals assist in proper digestion, which helps to manage weight. When the body works more efficiently not only do you have more energy, it boosts your brain function, and improves your immune system so you can fight off disease. Some common deficiencies in the body include vitamin B12, calcium, chromium, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and zinc. Therefore the best way to combat these deficiencies before they occur is to take a multivitamin.
Illness and disease in the body is another reason for vitamin and mineral deficiency. Some illnesses drain the body of vitamins, which reduces your body’s ability to fight off the disease. HIV eliminates all vitamins within in the body therefore making it almost impossible for the body to remain healthy. Therefore people who are infected with HIV have a hard time fighting off other infections and diseases. Smoking also depletes the body of all vitamins and minerals. Just another reason why no one should smoke. Diabetes reduces the antioxidants within the body, which in turn allows free radicals to complete oxidative reactions to cause disease, and aging. Ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, and Crohn’s disease all decrease the levels of vitamin D, E and K. HPV and excessive alcohol drinking deplete the vitamin A levels in the body.
Now a days there are multivitamins to differentiate consumer sectors such as prenatals, mens, womens, over 40, over 50, child, etc. These specific groups of individuals have different dietary and nutritional needs, which require additional support from a vitamin supplement. Children, teens, athletes, and pregnant women have a higher nutritional need due to basic body growth. Vitamins and minerals are essential in the bodies ability to grow. They are essential for every cellular reaction in the body. When all the nutrients are not present in the body, the body cannot function properly, which can cause fatigue, weakness, lack of energy, disease, and ultimately in extreme situations death. Most multivitamin supplementation can reduce the risk for vitamin and mineral deficiency and keep the body functioning optimally. However, in extreme circumstances where vitamin and mineral levels are sufficiently depleted and the deficiency has gone on long enough, medical treatment is necessary.
Multivitamins are a safe and valuable tool for a healthy diet, as long as they are taken as prescribed or directed. An excess or deficiency of vitamins and minerals can be harmful to the body. By taking large quantities of any vitamins or minerals you pose a risk for an acute overdose in the body. Especially in the case of fat-soluble vitamins the body is unable to rid the system of excess vitamins causing toxicity. Iron, vitamin A, and vitamin E are three vitamins and minerals that are easy to overdose on because the body needs such a limited amount. Symptoms of a vitamin or mineral overdose include stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, hair loss, headache, joint or muscle pain, back pain, blood in your urine, pale skin and easy bruising or bleeding. Large quantities of minerals can have additional effects such as tooth staining, increased urination, stomach bleeding, heart palpitations, confusion, and muscle weakness. Consult your doctor right away if you suspect an overdose of multivitamins.
Most multivitamins have a consumption range of 1-2 times a day, however others recommend 3-7 times a day. A healthy adult, with no medical problems who eats a variety of fresh food really only needs to take one dosage of vitamins a day to maintain functionality and avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For people who suffer from medical conditions and are taking additional prescription medication should consult your doctor before starting on a multivitamin. Some multivitamins can be affected by prescriptions medications such as a diuretic, heart or blood pressure medication, tretinoin, Accutane, Bactrim, or NSAIDs. Always take as prescribed or directed to get the most out of your multivitamin.
Sarah Labdar, “The Advantages of Taking a Multivitamin As You Get Older “, Everyday Health