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Multivitamin: Do You Really Need One?

Four questions to consider before you take a multivitamin

Do you ever wonder if taking a MV is a waste of time OR money?

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In the United States, more than 50% of adults take one or more dietary supplements regularly and that increases over time, with more than 70% of adults over age 65 taking vitamins.

Nutrition Business Journal, 2021

Almost ½ of adults surveyed took multivitamins because they believed it would improve their health and 1/3 of them thought a multivitamin would at least help them maintain their health.  

JAMA Intern Med 2013

So, WHAT IS THE definition of improving or maintaining your health? According to the dictionary, health is the condition of the body and the extent to which it is free from illness or is able to resist illness.

Collins English Dictionary

So, most people take a MV to maintain or improve their health. it’s like an insurance policy…to avoid illness. So, with that in mind… here are 4 specific questions to make sure you’re choosing a MV for the right reason. Let’s see how you’ll answer them:

Question One: Do you take a multivitamin because you want to prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease or cancer?

The position statement of the Academy of nutrition and dietetics, THE authority on nutrition, states that based on current research: Vitamin and mineral supplements do not help in preventing chronic disease.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. J AND, Nov 2018

The most recent study on MV drives home this point. Researchers of the COSMOS clinical trial found a daily MV did not protect against overall cancer risk, OR specific kinds of cancer like breast or colorectal.

Am J Clin Nutr, Mar 2022

Another study also found that multivitamins don’t reduce the risk for heart disease or cancer,AND they DON’T PREVENT cognitive decline or early death either.

Annals Intern Med, Dec 2013

So…If you are taking a MV to prevent chronic illness, the research says they won’t help you. And why is that?  Because fighting chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer has much more to do with consuming foods that contain phytonutrients found in plants, rather than taking small amounts of micronutrients like those found in laboratory-made multivitamins. So if you want to prevent chronic disease, PLANTS are the way to go.

Now, maybe you’re thinking….BUT a multivitamin could help me because I already have …diabetes, heart disease, cancer, thyroid issues, heartburn, eczema…whatever.

Question 2: Do you take a multivitamin because you think it will help a current health condition?

Well, According to the World Health Organization, as we age, risk of Micronutrient deficiencies are more common. So this might be a case for multivitamins.

More than 4 in 5 American adults take vitamins or supplements

The Harris Poll for American Osteopathic Association.

However, only 24% of those taking vitamins or supplements received test results indicating they have a nutritional deficiency. 3 of 4 people are taking supplements without getting tested for deficiencies.

But let’s say you do get tested. The 6 most common vitamin or mineral deficiencies in the United States are: iron (this almost always occurs with blood loss like a GI bleed or surgery), iodine (if you’re a vegan that might be problem), folate –pregnant women need more to protect their babies from brain or spine problems)(zinc – up to 45% of elderly do need more zinc) vitamin D (depending on your sun exposure, you might be deficent!). and Calcium (definitely a concern for postmenopausal women and some other groups).

So if you are truly deficient, your doctor or dietitian will correct these deficiencies with a specific nutrient, not a MV. For example, If you have iron deficient anemia, you need to take iron. If you are pregnant, you need higher levels of folate. And Taking a MV to preventing further bone loss is like taking a baby aspirin for painful arthritis. You’re gonna need more support than that.

So, If you take a MV thinking it will help your specific health concern, it won’t usually address it. You going to need very specific nutrients and maybe only for a certain amount of time.

Question 3: Do you take a MV because “it can’t hurt you?”

Well, if you think that multivitamins are pretty harmless…know that taking just two in a day can cause severe toxicity.

The National Institutes of Health states that some MVs contain substantially higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals and excess nutrient intakes are even more likely if you take a MV along with single vitamin or mineral supplements.

Am J Clin Nutr, 2007

Research on dietary supplement use in the US revealed 34% of adults aged 40-59 took more than one supplement and over 50% of adults 60 and older take more than one vitamin supplement.

NCHS Data Brief No. 399, February 2021

So, If you think taking a MV can’t cause you any harm, you’re wrong, especially if you take more than one supplement…you could be putting yourself at risk for overdose or vitamin-mineral imbalances that could impact your health in negative ways.

Now, if you want to be sure about all of the dietary supplements you do take consider ordering a comprehensive supplement consultation where a qualified dietitian will work with you to evaluate the dosage and appropriateness of your supplements. This special consultation can be ordered by anyone who has a personalized plan. To learn more, click here.

Question 4: Do you take a multivitamin because you know you don’t eat perfectly, and it’s better than doing nothing at all?

Well let’s face it. If you don’t eat right, you are not multivitamin deficient, you are most likely PLANT deficient! If you aren’t getting the recommended  9-11 servings of plants per day for optimal health, that is the FIRST logical place to start when it comes to filling in the gaps of a substandard diet.

The CDC and every national health organization will tell you to be healthier, to maintain good health, and prevent disease, you must eat more plants.

If you aren’t sure why plants are so powerful, be sure to check out my youtube clips on Plants and how they prevent aging or food synergy – how plants work together.

My take-home message here is: If you don’t eat perfectly and you want to protect your health, you need to eat more plants, not take a multivitamin.

The CNIQ dietitians do have a solution for you because it can be challenging to eat right every day! We recommend a researched supplement that contains 100% plants- so it comes in a capsule, just like a multivitamin. But it isn’t some manmade concoction of small amounts of vitamins or minerals, it is 100% PLANTS so there isn’t any risk of interfering with medication or overdosing or causing an imbalance. And all those plants contribute vitamins and minerals too.

When you take these plant powders you are filling your body with the kind of nutrition—phytonutrients—and those are what we really need to prevent illness. And do you remember? That’s The reason in the first place you wanted to take a multivitamin…but now you know better, don’t you?

 You can learn more about the most scientifically researched brand of plant powders available on the market today.

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