I don’t take a multivitamin. We educate to get nutrition from food first, however, that doesn’t mean I don’t take certain supplements to support my health goals. Supplements are for supplementing your current state of health, and your needs are ever-changing. Let’s look at the role of the multivitamin and your health.
The origin of the multivitamin goes back to the early 1900’s when studies revealed that deficiencies of certain nutrients were directly linked to disease. The desire to combine nutrients that we were lacking in our diets regionally or seasonally, with the newfound ability to isolate them from food, brought forth what we still call a multivitamin.
A multivitamin/mineral supplement is defined in the United States as a supplement containing 3 or more vitamins and minerals. Each vitamin and mineral is included at a dose below the tolerable upper level, as determined by the FDA, and does not present a risk of adverse health effects. The terms multivitamin and multi-mineral are often used interchangeably. There is no scientific definition for either.
Multivitamin formulas have evolved. The quality of the ingredients has advanced and improved along with the absorbability and efficacy. Multivitamins today can still be found as the classic “one a day”, or in any multiple capsule or tablet dosing requiring 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 pills a day. Obviously the more pills you take, the more nutrients you will get, and at greater potencies.
Today, most drugstore brand “one a days” are just insurance that you are taking recommended daily allowances that will prevent the onset of once common diseases, such as pellagra and scurvy. Prenatal “one a days” give the mother and doctor peace of mind knowing that those important nutrients needed for fetal development are being ingested daily.
More companies are offering formulas beyond just a “one a day” for the following reasons:
- When you include minerals in a tableted or capsule formula, their large molecular size takes up a lot of room. That is why even calcium or multi-mineral formulas that contain NO vitamins are still often 2, 4, or 6, per day formulas. In a multi-vitamin/mineral formula, one a day or otherwise, it is the minerals that are taking up the most room.
- Our modern day nutrient requirements go beyond lacking the basics like vitamin C. In today’s face-paced life, with nutrient depleted soils, GMO crops, and the lack of minerals and green foods in peoples daily diets, along with stress and pollution, our need for anti-oxidant and anti-stress nutrients has increased.
- The intention has shifted from preventing deficiencies to supporting optimal health.
My version of a daily multiple is making smoothies 3-5 days a week. You can find out more about this in our smoothie category. So many nutrient dense super foods can go into a smoothie that it is similar to taking a multi – but from concentrated food sources.
For individuals who do not eat an optimal diet and indulge in junk or fast foods, even if its just once in awhile, but are looking for a way to get on the path to healthier habits, a multivitamin can be a great place to start.
I have known people that like to take a multi when they are in the beginning stages of “getting healthy”. It puts them in a mindset that works for them as they begin their journey to becoming educated about nutrition and nutritional sources. Food based brands like Natures Plus, Pure Essence Labs, and Rainbow Light, will give you the most bang for your buck in the multivitamin category, whether it is a “one a day” or a “six a day”.
Are you flushing your money down the toilet by purchasing a multi? Are multi vitamins expensive? Don’t know where to start? In the end, it is your job to take in all your options and listen to your body, and feed it with the healthiest foods you can possibly eat. More importantly, keep eliminating the bad stuff, and exercise! We have taught you how to do all that in this series.