Vitamin Research: Do You Really Need Multivitamins?
Do you remember those chalky Flinstones vitamins that many families had stashed in their cupboards for their picky children to eat like candy?
If you’re an adult, they’re likely replaced by boring capsules, or, if you’re lucky, those sweet and chewy vitamin gummies for the adults who still like their supplements to come in candy form.
But how useful are these vitamins? Is it worthwhile to have a cabinet full of vitamins and supplements, or are you wasting your money?
We’re going to take you through a bit of vitamin research to learn about how vitamins actually impact the body and whether or not they need to be a part of your daily routine.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Multivitamins?
“Multivitamin” is somewhat of an umbrella term that encompasses any combination of vitamins and minerals in one easy-to-consume supplement. They’re generally pills or capsules, but they can also be chalky chewable candies, gummies, powders, or drinks.
Generally speaking, they contain all of the “essential” vitamins that the average healthy adult or child will need to take. Women’s’ multivitamins sometimes contain extra ingredients, like boosted folic acid. Multivitamins for seniors may have different amounts of each supplement.
Smaller kinds of vitamin combinations are also considered multivitamins, like pre-natal supplements, complexes, and trendy capsules or gummies made specifically for their intended purposes (like hair growth, bone strength, skincare, and more).
The vitamins that can be found in multivitamins can also all be found in the standard American diet.
Are Vitamins Actually Helpful?
Are there really any multivitamin benefits that you can’t just get from your normal day-to-day diet?
Well, maybe. There’s a lot of conflicting information. With the large variety of multivitamins available, research may not be consistent with your particular multivitamin of choice.
Some people are genuinely deficient in certain vitamins. This can happen with certain food aversions or intolerances, or even just from the body needing more of that vitamin than the average person.
Certain medications can inhibit the absorption of vitamins, meaning that you may need extra vitamins to pick up the slack. While you may think you’re only deficient in one, some vitamins only work (or work best) in conjunction with another.
For example, biotin works best in combination with zinc. Iron works best when you combine it with vitamin C. This means that in some cases, vitamins being combined into a multipack can be more helpful than taking them individually or consuming them through food.
Vitamins may also help you to avoid cancer and the future loss of memory with age. These studies, however, are inconclusive and require more research before anything is certain.
Who Needs Multivitamins?
In a perfect world, no one needs vitamins. We should all be getting everything that we need from the foods that we’re eating. In reality, this isn’t always the case.
There are several groups of people that can benefit from the use of vitamins.
Mothers and Mothers-to-Be
Future or new mothers can benefit from a multivitamin. Mothers-to-be need a lot of folate in order to grow and deliver a healthy baby.
Not getting enough folate can lead to low birth weight, birth complications, neural tube defects, heart defects, brain and nervous system damage, and even stillbirth.
This means that all future mothers should be taking a multivitamin geared towards them. Folate is so important that it should be taken from the time of conception, meaning that if having a baby is even on the table, it’s best to take a prenatal multivitamin to cover your bases.
Older adults should also consider taking a multivitamin. While many people get enough nutrients from their foods, the elderly eat less and require more vitamins to keep everything functioning as it should. Because of this, they often end up deficient.
Vitamins may protect the eyes, heart, and memory. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and taking the proper amount of each vitamin shouldn’t cause any harm.
Those with iron-deficiency anemia should be taking vitamins. This should be done under the guidance of a doctor to ensure that the iron can be properly metabolized and can work in combination with the other vitamins.
Because iron does best in combination with vitamin C, a multivitamin might be a good choice.
People With Depression
This won’t necessarily be the case but talk about it with your physician.
Many people with depression would benefit from boosted vitamin D. Certain medications also make it difficult to absorb vitamins, requiring extra supplies.
For example, popular antidepressant Wellbutrin might inhibit the absorption of zinc. Instead of ditching the medication that you find helpful, try to supplement first.
Vegetarians and Vegans
Those with alternative diets that cut out animal products can live very healthy lives, but they may have a hard time finding certain essential vitamins without the use of supplements.
B12 is one example of something that’s difficult to find in vegan food (though it is present in dairy and eggs for vegetarians).
Some foods are fortified with B12, but to get it in proper amounts it’s far easier to take a supplement.
Can Vitamins Be Harmful?
It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
While taking a single supplement daily won’t be harmful, there are vitamins that, when taken in overabundance, can be toxic for the body.
For pregnant women, an extreme overabundance of vitamin A may cause birth defects. Even for non-pregnant people, vitamin A toxicity is a real risk.
In short, vitamins aren’t likely to harm you as long as you take them as instructed. The gummies might be good, but only take one or two per day.
We Did the Vitamin Research So You Don’t Have To
There’s a lot of vitamin research out there and we hope we helped to clear some things up.
While multivitamins aren’t absolutely necessary, they likely aren’t doing you any harm. If you have a healthy and balanced diet, you probably don’t need them.
If you’re in any of the categories that would benefit from vitamins, though (and ours was only a brief list), consider grabbing some gummy vitamins to add to your routine.
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