Research shows that more than 65% of adults in the UK pop multivitamins daily – that figure rises to 68% in the United States. Thanks to the numerous health warnings about the risks associated with vitamin deficiency, including anemia and infection – which is often supported by the media – it seems more adults than ever are taking multivitamins to ensure they meet their Adequate Intake (AI) levels.
The question is not whether multivitamins work but instead how multivitamins work, under which circumstances multivitamins work best, and whether multivitamins will actively benefit your health.
Below, we explore the advantages and pitfalls of multivitamins and how to benefit from them.
If taken correctly, multivitamins have a roster of benefits, including:
If you have been unwell or sick, your body may struggle to get all the vitamins it needs to get it back to optimum function, in which case you could benefit from multivitamins. For instance, contrary to popular belief, vitamin C doesn’t help to prevent a cold all that much; however, it can make your cold last up to a day less than it would by improving immune function. Similarly, zinc also cuts the length of time you must endure a cold. If you get sick often, consider taking vitamin E to boost immunity.
Boost Energy Levels
If you’re feeling tired and sluggish, of course, you should aim to get more sleep; however, you can also take vitamin B12 and magnesium for more obvious, immediate results. Research shows that vitamin B12 also helps to boost your mood – perfect for those early starts or challenging morning meetings.
Whether you’re young or old, if you often find yourself forgetting things, you may want to take B vitamins such as folic acid, B6, and B12, as well as antioxidants such as vitamins E and C. These vitamins are proven to improve overall cognitive function, which includes memory. Similarly, these vitamins can help to improve focus and concentration which could boost your productivity in the workplace.
Navigate Dietary Restrictions
If you have dietary restrictions, such as if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may need to take multivitamins to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Research shows that vegetarians and vegans often suffer from B-vitamin deficiency as some B vitamins come from animal products. The same goes for calcium. Similarly, pregnant women will experience dietary restrictions and require more nutrients than the average woman. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about multivitamins.
As well as their array of benefits, multivitamins have a host of pitfalls that you need to be mindful of to ensure you are taking vitamins correctly and not causing your mind and body more harm than good.
If you’re taking too much of a vitamin, you will experience vitamin toxicity, which can upset your body. For instance, too much vitamin C or zinc can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps, as well as sickness, while overdosing on selenium may result in loss of hair, fatigue, and even nerve damage. Before taking multivitamins, it’s essential you monitor your diet and understand which vitamins you are lacking, so you only take vitamins you really need and never consume more than the recommended dosage.
It is also important to remember that vitamins can quickly become expensive if you choose premium brands. In any case, a balanced diet is always the best way get your essential vitamins and minerals.
Many assume that taking a multivitamin is as simple as popping a pill in the morning with a gulp of water; that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the body struggles to absorb vitamins, which means you could be wasting both your time and money taking vitamins that are not providing any benefit.
There are a few steps you can take to help your body absorb multivitamins sufficiently. Firstly, choose multivitamins that disintegrate quickly. For multivitamins to be absorbed properly, they must be released into the body quickly, so choose smaller powder-based tablets rather than large, waxy tablets that are less soluble. Even better, take powder-form multivitamins rather than tablets. You should also avoid tablets with preservatives and artificial colours, as they will also slow down absorption.
You should understand the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble, which means you should take them with water. However, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, which means they must be consumed with a small amount of fat to be absorbed sufficiently. Consequently, you should take fat-soluble vitamins with or before a meal containing fat.
To decide whether you need multivitamins, ask yourself the following questions:
If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the above questions, you may need multivitamins.
In most cases, you should be able to get all your essential vitamins from a balanced diet. For a balanced diet, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Also, base meals around carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, and pasta; consume dairy or dairy alternatives at least once a day; regularly consume protein such as fish, eggs, pulses, and meat; and always choose unsaturated fats in small amounts over saturated fats for good health. You should strive to drink two litres of water a day, too.
If you’re unsure whether you need multivitamins, talk to your doctor.
If you’re considering taking multivitamins, first and foremost, always check whether you can meet your vitamin needs by improving your diet. When taking multivitamins, choose vitamins carefully and take water-soluble vitamins with water and fat-soluble vitamins before or with food. Never take too much of one vitamin as it may make you unwell.
Multivitamins work, but only with your assistance. Bear in mind that a lot of the times putting a traditional or conventional medicine in your body may not be always the cure miracle for your body’s health problems. A lot of the times taking up a yoga practice and associated yoga teaching can also significantly improve your well-being and overall health.