Are Multivitamins and Supplements Worth the Hype?

They say an apple a day will keep the doctor away, but what about multivitamins and nutritional supplements?

We all try to stay on top of our health, but it can be hard to practice a well-balanced diet in everyday life. Multivitamins and supplements, when taken correctly, can help bridge those gaps in our diets.

Hrefna Palsdottir, MS of Healthline, explained that multivitamins are just supplements that have varying vitamins and minerals. However, each multivitamin’s composition depends on the brand and product. They can come in many shapes and forms like a tablet, a powder, a liquid, capsules, or even chewable gummies.

According to Palsdottir, there are 13 vitamins and 16 minerals that are vital to our health. Our bodies need these nutrients for things like growth, reproduction, and regulation of our bodily processes.

While a lot of multivitamins contain ingredients that impact the function of hormones and enzymatic reactions, they can also contain amino acids, herbs, and fatty acids. Palsdottir warns that cases of fraud have happened in the supplement industry that resulted in some ingredient dosages being labeled incorrectly or some not even being labeled at all. This is why it is important to buy your supplements or multivitamins from a trusted manufacturer.

Although taking multivitamins and supplements is meant to boost your body’s health, taking a high-potency of it can actually have more harmful affects, especially if you already have a well-balanced diet.

“More isn’t always better in nutrition,” Palsdottir said.

If you have a high nutrient diet and eat well, chances are you do not need to take any supplements. However, the people who should consider that route vary depending on the age and diet of the individual, according to Palsdottir.

People who are vegan or have a strictly vegetarian diet should take supplements because they are usually at high risk of B12 deficiency. Other components that we usually get from animal foods are calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Older individuals should also consider taking multivitamins because the absorption of the vitamin B12 our bodies need decreases with age. You also will need higher quantities of vitamin D and calcium, the absorbtion of which also decreases with age.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women can also talk to their doctors about any extra nutrients they should take to keep their babies healthy. However, Palsdottir said that certain nutrients, like vitamin A, should be avoided because they are known to cause birth defects.

Palsdottir also suggested that others who have had weight loss surgery or have low-calorie diets would benefit from supplements. Even if you are known to have a poor appetite and don’t have enough nutrient intake, supplements could help in that category too.

Palsdottir explained that multivitamins usually have high amounts of multiple nutrients. If you only need one, like iron, then that is what you should take. Taking high amounts of nutrients on top of a healthy diet can do more harm than good.

Taking multivitamins or nutrient supplements should not be used to substitute the real thing. Having a well-balanced and healthy diet is the sure way for optimal health; this means meeting our body’s nutrient needs by consuming whole, nutritious foods. Only take supplements if it’s necessary for your body’s health.

Taking care of our bodies is crucial. It’s important to know what is, and isn’t, going into our bodies. What we put in is what we’ll get out, so eat healthy, and if your diet needs something a little extra, follow the dosage guidelines of multivitamins and supplements for accurate and safe results.

Essential vitamins:

Vitamins A, D, C, K, E; thiamine (B1); biotin (B7); niacin (B3); pantothenic acid (B5); riboflavin (B2); pyridoxine (B6); folic acid (B9); cobalamin (B12)

Essential minerals:

Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium, chloride, sodium, zinc, iron, copper, iodine, manganese, chromium, fluoride, molybdenum, selenium

Top 5 Multivitamins

For women: MegaFood Women’s One Daily

For men: MegaFood Multi for Men

For children: Rainbow Light Kids One MultiStars Food-Based Multivitamin

For seniors: Kirkland Signature Adults 50+ Mature Multi

Best value: Kirkland Signature Daily Multi

Tips for Tough-to-Swallow Pills

Always have a full glass of water next to you before you take your pill.

For tablets, try the bottle method. Fill a plastic water bottle with water, place the tablet on your tongue, and close your lips around the bottle opening. Use a sucking motion to drink from the bottle and swallow the water and pill quickly.

For capsules, try the lean forward method. Place the capsule on the tongue, sip some water without swallowing, close your mouth, tilt your chin toward your chest, and swallow while your head is still bent forward.

Take your pill with soft food or crush it up and put it in water.

Top 5 Supplements

Fish Oil contains the fatty acids EPA and DHA, which allow the body to burn fat stored for energy rather than glucose from carbohydrates.

Multivitamins contain a plethora of nutrients. However, choose your multi wisely; many contain nutrients that can be poorly suited for your body and can be toxic or don’t absorb well, like mineral salts and vitamin A.

Attaining quality dosages of vitamin D is of the easiest and best ways to stay ahead of disease and illness and to promote long-term health.

Magnesium is responsible for impacting over 300 processes in the body, so not getting enough can leave you feeling unhealthy and sluggish.

Probiotics are little bacterias that can offer extensive health benefits because their natural habitat is the gastrointestinal tract.

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Written by: Alex Dunn

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