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Why You Probably Need a Multivitamin: 5 Benefits According to Experts

Why You Probably Need a Multivitamin: 5 Benefits According to Experts

What is a Multivitamin?

Multivitamins were introduced in the mid-20th century and offer a convenient way to help bridge the gap between what we should consume, and what we actually do. These supplements are formulated with a blend of vitamins and minerals, covering both essential (those our bodies cannot produce) and nonessential nutrients (1). The truth is, we should be able to get most of the nutrients we need from food. The fact is, we don’t. This is why multivitamins have become one of the most popular dietary supplements in the United States, helping to address deficiencies that could otherwise compromise our health.

Here, we share five benefits of multivitamin supplementation, what you should look for in a good multivitamin, and what ingredients to avoid.

 

5 Benefits of Multivitamin Supplementation

1. Helps Bridge Nutrient Gaps

Multivitamins can play a crucial role to help meet daily nutrient requirements, especially as studies have shown that deficiencies in certain nutrients can heighten susceptibility to illness (2). For instance, long-term insufficiencies in calcium and vitamin D are associated with osteoporosis later in life (3). Another example is that during pregnancy, deficiencies in folic acid have been linked to a higher risk of fetal neural tube defects (4).  

Multivitamins are especially beneficial for those on restrictive diets or those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets. Common nutrient deficiencies that can occur on vegan or plant-based diets include vitamin B12, iron, omega-3s, and vitamin D. An all-in-one vegan multivitamin tailored specifically for those on vegan or plant-based diets can help ensure you’re getting everything you need and is available here.

 

2. Provide Nutrients That Have Been Depleted From Our Soil

Modern agricultural practices have led to a decline in the nutritional quality of our food (5). Cultivating crops without proper soil management depletes essential nutrients from the soil, resulting in less nutritious produce compared to 50 years ago. Key nutrients that have shown significant declines include magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron, among others (6). Multivitamin supplementation helps ensure adequate intake of these nutrients.

 

3. Supports Antioxidant Defenses

Key vitamins and minerals in multivitamins, such as vitamins A, C, and E, act as antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative stress (7). Oxidative stress is a major contributor to cancer development as the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during stress can lead to mutations that contribute to cancer proliferation (8). Multivitamins help you get the antioxidants you need.

 

4. Enhances Immune System Function

Adequate intake of vitamins A, C, D, and zinc through multivitamins can boost immune system function, reducing both the risk and severity of infections (9). In more recent years, vitamin D emerged as a pivotal player in immune health, though much of the population is deficient. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to immune-related conditions such as psoriasis and autoimmune disease, and multivitamin supplementation with adequate levels of vitamin D can help combat these conditions (10).

 

5. Helps Prevent Memory Loss and Slow Cognitive Aging

Recent studies have shown that multivitamins may help prevent memory loss and slow cognitive decline. A randomized clinical trial published in 2023 demonstrated improved memory performance in participants receiving multivitamins compared to the placebo group (11). This study led to increased recommendations of daily multivitamin supplementation by healthcare providers.

 

Groups Higher at Risk for Nutrient Deficiencies

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, including:

 

Older adults

Older adults experience challenges in nutrient absorption due to age-related factors such as a lower appetite, pills that can change the taste of certain foods, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. Some studies have shown that older individuals have a hard time absorbing vitamin B12, largely due to changes in the stomach enzymes required to metabolize the vitamin (12).

 

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies because of an increase in pregnancy-related nutrient demands to support fetal growth and development. Nutrients such as folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and zinc are typically required in higher amounts during pregnancy (13).

 

Individuals who follow vegan and plant-based diets

Following a vegan or plant-based diet can create challenges in meeting daily nutrient intakes because it eliminates food groups that are important sources of these nutrients. Common nutrient deficiencies that occur while on vegan or plant-based diets include vitamin B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium (14). If you’re looking for a complete, all-in-one vegan multivitamin to cover the most common nutrient deficiencies that happen on vegan diets, shop the plant-based essentials now.

 

People with malabsorption conditions

Malabsorption of nutrients can occur because of factors affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This includes conditions such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and alcoholism. These conditions can impair digestive enzyme production or cause intestinal damage or inflammation that disrupts the normal absorption of nutrients (15).

 

What to Look For in a Multivitamin

When selecting a multivitamin, there are some key factors to look out for to ensure you’re getting the most effective multivitamin:

  • Choose a multivitamin that provides adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in bioavailable forms
  • Review the list of “other ingredients” on the label and confirm there are no unnecessary additives or fillers added to the product
  • Choose a product with third party testing to ensure the quality and purity of the product

If you’re looking for a vegan multivitamin that meets these criteria, shop the plant-based essentials now, our all-in-one vegan multivitamin.

 

Ingredients to Avoid in Your Multivitamin

Be mindful of certain ingredients commonly found in multivitamins that should be avoided when possible such as titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, carrageenan, and preservatives. Titanium dioxide, a whitening agent, is used to give capsules their bright white pigment, though it has been shown to have adverse effects on the gut and can be potentially carcinogenic when inhaled (16). Magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide are used as lubricants and anti-caking agents during the supplement manufacturing process, and both can potentially hinder nutrient absorption (17). Be mindful of these ingredients and opt for a multivitamin without them.

 

Conclusion

While a multivitamin cannot replace a healthy, well-balanced diet, it can serve as a valuable complement to ensure optimal nutrient intake. The associated risks of multivitamin use are low compared to the benefits of supporting overall health. Incorporating a multivitamin into your daily routine can be the right step towards safeguarding against potential nutrient deficiencies and support vital body functions. For more personalized guidance on choosing the right multivitamin, consult with your healthcare professional.

 

References:

  1. Jia JCameron NALinder JA. Multivitamins and Supplements—Benign Prevention or Potentially Harmful Distraction? 2022;327(23):2294–2295. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.9167
  2. Koekkoek WAC, Hettinga K, de Vries JHM, van Zanten ARH. Micronutrient deficiencies in critical illness. Clin Nutr. 2021 Jun;40(6):3780-3786. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.05.003. Epub 2021 May 11. PMID: 34130024.
  3. Voulgaridou G, Papadopoulou SK, Detopoulou P, Tsoumana D, Giaginis C, Kondyli FS, Lymperaki E, Pritsa A. Vitamin D and Calcium in Osteoporosis, and the Role of Bone Turnover Markers: A Narrative Review of Recent Data from RCTs. Diseases. 2023 Feb 8;11(1):29. doi: 10.3390/diseases11010029. PMID: 36810543; PMCID: PMC9944083.
  4. Wilson RD, O'Connor DL. Maternal folic acid and multivitamin supplementation: International clinical evidence with considerations for the prevention of folate-sensitive birth defects. Prev Med Rep. 2021 Oct 25;24:101617. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101617. PMID: 34976673; PMCID: PMC8684027.
  5. Montgomery D.R., Bikle A. Soil Health and Nutrient Density: Beyond Organic vs. Conventional Farming. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 2021 November 04; doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.699147.
  6. Chaudhry AH, Nayab S, Hussain SB, Ali M, Pan Z. Current Understandings on Magnesium Deficiency and Future Outlooks for Sustainable Agriculture. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Feb 12;22(4):1819. doi: 10.3390/ijms22041819. PMID: 33673043; PMCID: PMC7917752.
  7. Dragsted LO. Biomarkers of exposure to vitamins A, C, and E and their relation to lipid and protein oxidation markers. Eur J Nutr. 2008 May;47 Suppl 2:3-18. doi: 10.1007/s00394-008-2003-1. PMID: 18458831.
  8. Didier AJ, Stiene J, Fang L, Watkins D, Dworkin LD, Creeden JF. Antioxidant and Anti-Tumor Effects of Dietary Vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants (Basel). 2023 Mar 3;12(3):632. doi: 10.3390/antiox12030632. PMID: 36978880; PMCID: PMC10045152.
  9. Calder PC, Carr AC, Gombart AF, Eggersdorfer M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 23;12(4):1181. doi: 10.3390/nu12041181. PMID: 32340216; PMCID: PMC7230749.
  10. Sîrbe C, Rednic S, Grama A, Pop TL. An Update on the Effects of Vitamin D on the Immune System and Autoimmune Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Aug 29;23(17):9784. doi: 10.3390/ijms23179784. PMID: 36077185; PMCID: PMC9456003.
  11. Yeung LK, Alschuler DM, Wall M, Luttmann-Gibson H, Copeland T, Hale C, Sloan RP, Sesso HD, Manson JE, Brickman AM. Multivitamin Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Jul;118(1):273-282. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.05.011. Epub 2023 May 24. PMID: 37244291; PMCID: PMC10375458.
  12. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1998.
  13. Jouanne M, Oddoux S, Noël A, Voisin-Chiret AS. Nutrient Requirements during Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrients. 2021 Feb 21;13(2):692. doi: 10.3390/nu13020692. PMID: 33670026; PMCID: PMC7926714.
  14. Bali A, Naik R. The Impact of a Vegan Diet on Many Aspects of Health: The Overlooked Side of Veganism. Cureus. 2023 Feb 18;15(2):e35148. doi: 10.7759/cureus.35148. PMID: 36950003; PMCID: PMC10027313.
  15. Zuvarox T, Belletieri C. Malabsorption Syndromes. [Updated 2023 Jul 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553106/
  16. Skocaj M, Filipic M, Petkovic J, Novak S. Titanium dioxide in our everyday life; is it safe? Radiol Oncol. 2011 Dec;45(4):227-47. doi: 10.2478/v10019-011-0037-0. Epub 2011 Nov 16. PMID: 22933961; PMCID: PMC3423755.
  17. Ariyasu A, Hattori Y, Otsuka M. Delay effect of magnesium stearate on tablet dissolution in acidic medium. Int J Pharm. 2016 Sep 25;511(2):757-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2016.07.034. Epub 2016 Jul 18. PMID: 27444551.

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