Should you be taking a multivitamin
Have you ever wondered if taking a multivitamin is worth it, then this article is for you.
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The multivitamin and supplement industry is huge. Walk into any grocery store, pharmacy, or GNC and you will find an overwhelming amount to choose from.
If you have never taken one before, it can be difficult to know a few key things.
- Do they actually help?
- What does the product label mean?
- What brands provide the best multivitamin?
- How often should I take it?
- How long will each bottle last?
- What kind of fillers are in there?
- What is a proprietary blend?
Many have been taking a multivitamin for years and still could not answer these questions.
Understandably, it is difficult to really understand all the research there for choosing a good multivitamin.
There is one undeniable truth, not all multivitamins are good for you. In fact, many can be downright bad for you.
Let’s discuss some things you need to know before buying a multivitamin.
Why take a multivitamin
Looking at the state of agriculture today, it becomes easy to see why a multivitamin makes sense.
Poor farming practices have been taking place for years. This has lead to over worked soil that has become depleted of vital nutrients and minerals.
Plants no longer are able to grow with the same high dosage of nutrients as say 100 years ago.
That does not mean vegetables are completely useless. They just lack some of the nutrient density of the past.
Add to that the amount of pollution created by poor farming or the world in general. This has lead to a decrease in quality farming.
When it comes down to it, in order to gain the recommended dosages of our daily vitamins and minerals, a multivitamin can be good solution.
That does not mean you can fix the issue by taking a multivitamin in order to skip nutritious food. A multivitamin is a supplement to your diet, not a replacement.
A multivitamin in itself is often designed to provide an adequate portion for the everyday adult. However, for athletic individuals, a multivitamin and a nutritious diet may not be enough.
A good multivitamin should therefor focus on helping you to obtain the nutrients you may not be able to get from diet alone.
They are not in any way a replacement.
It is important to note that multivitamins are meant to help over a long period of time.
Often times when illness occurs, people resort to things like herbal tinctures or chew-able vitamins like they are candy. They are not a quick fix but a steady aid that develops over time.
Simple signs to know if a multivitamin is helping or not
Before getting into the science behind it all, there are a few simple things to look for.
One of the simplest ways to know if a multivitamin is working for you or not is how you feel.
After taking a multivitamin, you should feel energetic and alert. You should feel really good.
Often times, however, I hear of people who say that they took a multivitamin and stopped because they felt sick.
This can be the cause of a number of things.
Commonly this is due to many not only being a multivitamin but a mineral source as well. You could be taking a multivitamin with iron.
However, iron generally does not need to be part of a multivitamin. It is a mineral that can cause things like diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps according to Medline Plus.
Iron is easily consumed in most standard diets. To add it to a multivitamin then is commonly overkill.
In fact, too much iron can actually cause serious health concerns.
Another source of feeling sick can be from having too much vitamin A, D, and E. High doses of these can create a toxic effect causing similar issues to too much iron.
While starting to take a multivitamin may cause some minor nausea, it should not make you feel sick. That is a serious warning sign that the multivitamin you are taking is not made well.
One size does not fit all
Often times people will look to a doctor for advice on the matter.
When a doctor says you should take a multivitamin, it is a general suggestion. They can’t legally prescribe a multivitamin. They can suggest it but can’t write a script for you.
When looking back at the issue of some vitamins and minerals having to high of quantities, this is when a doctor comes in handy.
Through a panel of blood test a doctor can see where exactly you are deficient. From there they can prescribe a clinical dose of specific vitamins and minerals.
For some this is a better option than a generic multivitamin.
Another thing to consider is that multivitamins are not unisex.
There is a multivitamin for men, multivitamin for women, elderly, children, and pre-natal.
If you are a women and take a multivitamin that is designed with male dosages, you could easily be taking too much of some ingredients.
Absorption issues to consider
Very common issue among commercial brands is the lack of absorption.
The stomach is an acidic environment. When you swallow a multivitamin it should dissolve in the stomach.
If it does not dissolve, then your body will lack the ability to absorb nutrients.
It is important to note that absorption does not take place in the stomach. It takes place in the intestine which is PH neutral.
This is where the absorption starts to potentially fail.
Without absorption the vitamins and minerals stay crystallized and never become use-able.
Another issue comes from traditional minerals like copper sulfate. These do not stay dissolved in PH neutral environments like the intestines.
Because of this, they start to re-crystallize. Thus, again become something that our body can not absorb.
Another issue found in traditional minerals occur when antioxidants are added.
The minerals like copper sulfate begin to immediately oxidize the vitamins like vitamin C. From this the vitamins and minerals lose value before they even have a chance to help.
Think of oxidation like an apple cut in half and left out on the counter. It does not take long for oxidation to occur and the apple to start turning brown.
Our bodies are the same when it comes to oxidation or what is commonly referred to as free radicals.
While the effects are not seen as quickly as an apple, over time, free radicals can take there toll on our health.
Free radicals are a main medical concern because they attack the cells directly. They can set off a chain reaction that leads to a variety of health concerns.
This makes antioxidants vital to our diet.
When looking at a commercial multivitamins, we start to paint a picture of why they often fail.
Through lack of quality ingredients, antioxidants lose there ability to be absorbed and oxidation increases creating free radicals.
Due to this chain of events, you don’t get as much as what is stated on the label.
This also means, the multivitamin you are taking could be doing more damage than good.
Understanding proprietary blend
It may not be necessary for your multivitamin to have a U. S. Patent. However, it is a nice touch.
In order to gain a patent, the multivitamin must do exactly as claimed in the dosages claimed.
That being said, the proper dosage of ingredients is not rocket science. There are standard guidelines.
I do personally take a multivitamin and it has 2 U. S. Patents based on effectiveness of absorption and free radical blocking.
This is a great touch for choosing a multivitamin.
On top of that, every ingredient is clearly labeled showing exact dosage.
However, I see a lot of multivitamins on the market that say two terrible words.
That is a terrible thing to see on the label of any supplement product.
Proprietary blend simply means they don’t have to tell you the amount of every ingredient.
It also means they can add useless fillers to make the pill look bigger and better for you. Some of these fillers can be quite scary too.
First and foremost, beware of any multivitamin with those two words.
Secondly, there are a lot of patented vitamins that use these words. That is another red flag.
Should you be taking a multivitamin
After looking at all the details, taking a multivitamin can be an effective way to boost your health.
You may not be deficient in everywhere, or may need a lot of help getting the proper nutrients.
Multivitamins contain a lot of ingredients. We break those vitamins down in another article if you ever want to go in depth.
In the meantime, a multivitamin can be a simple way to boost all your vitamins each day.
If you are an athlete or very active, it becomes even more important to supplement your diet due to the demands placed in your body.
Even a standard multivitamin and a nutritious diet may not be enough for athletic individuals.
Some key points to take away:
- Multivitamins replace the lack of nutritional availability in today’s foods
- Most commercial brands are not made well
- Some may actually do more harm than good
- Avoid proprietary blends if possible
- Do your research before buying
- You should never feel nauseous
- You should have increased energy, alertness, and mood
- If in doubt, seek professional medical help for guidance
It is not my place to say whether you should or should not start taking vitamins.
That is completely up to you and how you currently feel about your health.
While they can be extremely beneficial, they can also be the source of major health problems if you take a low quality multivitamin.
Most importantly, nothing replaces a healthy nutritious diet.
I hope this article helps guide you in your choice. If you have any specific questions or thoughts, please leave a comment or send us an email.