Hardly a week goes by without another headline bemoaning the uselessness of taking a multivitamin. It doesn’t seem to matter how many studies show that incorporating a daily multi into your routine is a really good thing to do, yet still the naysayers stick to their guns and talk about expensive urine and not much else.
In a bid to set the record straight on what is actually a very healthy habit, and with absolutely no faith whatsoever that this will stop the headlines, we’ve put together some of our musings on why you should be taking a daily multi and why it offers you so much more than just expensive urine.
One reason commonly cited against taking a daily multi is that there isn’t yet enough evidence from randomized controlled trials to make a recommendation either way. And on the surface there’s logic to this view. However, the reality is that it will likely never be possible to conduct randomised trials that are long enough to fully test the effects of a multi on our long-term health. When you look at all the evidence to date, the potential health benefits of taking a daily multivitamin appear to outweigh the risks for most people1.
The Harvard School of Public Health describes a daily multivitamin as a ‘nutrition insurance policy’. And in a 2002 scientific review on the subject they concluded that, “pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”2
Many will argue that your diet should be able to provide everything you need, and that a daily multi is an indulgent waste of money and time. And indeed, for those who consistently eat a balanced diet containing a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, high quality protein and plenty of beneficial fats and who also take into account the fact that nutritional needs differ according to what’s happening in life, the benefits may be questionable. There are very few people however, who can confidently say that they do this. It’s no mean feat to consume 7+ portions of organic fruit and veg daily and to consciously think to add extra servings of magnesium-rich foods into your diet when you’re feeling particularly stressed. Research shows that the typical Western diet supplies less than adequate amounts of several vitamins and minerals, and nutrition surveys have found that large numbers of people consume too little calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and possibly copper and manganese too. We also know that vast numbers of people are deficient in vitamin D3,4.
Our daily food intake really should be up there with family in terms of prioritising what’s important in life, the reality however for most is very different. Food often comes a sorry last; lagging far behind work, social lives and even household chores in terms of time devoted to it.
In a fast-paced world where people seem to be busier than ever before, a daily multivitamin has become a necessity. This doesn’t mean we can’t strive towards being part of a society where food is given the thought and attention our health deserves; it just means we need to work with where we are now whilst we aspire to improve.
If you’re looking for the best of health, choose a daily multivitamin that contains therapeutic amounts of essential vitamins and minerals in body-ready forms.
1. Ames BN, McCann JC, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Evidence-based decision making on micronutrients and chronic disease: long-term randomized controlled trials are not enough. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86:522-3; author reply 3-4.
2. Fletcher RH, Fairfield KM, Vitamins for Chronic Disease Preventions in
Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002; 287: 3127-3129
3. Pennington JA, Young BE, Wilson DB. Nutritional Elements in U.S. diets: results from the Total Diet Study, 1982-1986. J Am Diet Assoc 1989; 89: 659- 64
4. Pennington JA. Intakes of minerals from diets and foods: is there a need for concern? J Nutr 1996; 126 (9Suppl): 2304S-8S