Often times our bodies aren’t getting sufficient amounts of nutrients we need to stay active and prevent illness. It can be difficult to get all the nutrients required from diet alone. If understand what you are getting out of your diet already, the benefits of taking a daily multivitamin can outweigh the risks involved.

Americans have been taking multivitamins and mineral supplements since the 1940s. This is when these products became widely available. Multivitamin supplements are still very popular today and according to some estimates, over one third of all Americans take them daily. Even those with good health have found that taking a multivitamin daily is a good way to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to age well and stay active. For example, many people who aren’t out in the sun long enough lack sufficient amounts of vitamin D, which promotes healthy bones.

What can you believe about multivitamins?

While there are many different vitamin manufacturers, most multivitamins contain similar ingredients such as calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and potassium. If you’ve ever read anything written by experts on the subject, you may find yourself more confused than when you started. It seems as though research on multivitamins, as well as general diet is always contradicting itself. Many times large bodies of evidence are either completely ignored or taken out of context. I think it may have more to do with where the information is coming from, than any sort of deception.

Studies such as the China Study, which compares the health effects of Asian diet in contrast to American diets have concluded that the average American diet is deficient of proper nutrient intake. While experts may not agree about the effects of taking vitamin supplements there is one thing we can take from this. It’s reasonable to accept that by filling nutrient gaps left in incomplete or unbalanced diets, multivitamin supplements can support general health and help ward off future health risks. Just as a healthy diet would. For instance, a pregnant woman could take folic acid to prevent birth defects or supplements containing calcium to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Choosing a Multivitamin

What should you look for when choosing a multivitamin? First speak with a nutritionist or your doctor to figure out what your current diet is doing for you. The guidelines set forth in this article are general. Each person will have different needs and goals to consider. That being said, following are some things to look for when shopping for a multivitamin.

  • Speak with your doctor/nutritionist first.
  • Read the label carefully.
  • Get the basic vitamins and minerals which include: vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, iodine, zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, beta carotene and selenium.
  • Look for gender specific formulas. Men and women have different needs.
  • Don’t go overboard. Avoid any multivitamins that go over 100% of your daily values. Overdosing can be dangerous in some cases.

What multivitamins can and can’t do

In January of 2015, a study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition in 2015 showed that women who took a multivitamin with minerals daily for 3 years were able to lower their risk of complications from heart disease. This is a good indication of the effectiveness of multivitamins, although the same study did not show any benefit for men who took multivitamins.

It’s important to remember that multivitamins are supposed to support a healthy lifestyle. You can think of a multivitamin as a safeguard for your health. It’s critical to take a food first approach, which is really the best medicine for your body. They are by no means a replacement for exercise and a balanced diet. They can bridge the gap that your diet might not be fulfilling. Multivitamins are there to augment good health, not be the basis of it.