If you are like most people, you take vitamins and supplements at certain times during your day. On the surface, swallowing a multivitamin every day makes sense. We all want to stay healthy and we're concerned that our meals do not provide enough nutrition. But the more you learn about multivitamins, the less likely you might be to blindly swear by them. Could you be wasting your money? It really depends on a few things...
Multivitamin or Placebo?
Some studies show that some vitamins may be no better than a placebo when it comes to preventing diseases. This is certainly not to say that all multivitamins are no better than a placebo. Certain types of multivitamins clearly provide proven health benefits, such as folic acid for expecting mothers. Data shows that a daily "one pill does all" multivitamin doesn't prevent heart issues, guard against memory loss, or boost longevity. In fact, study results published in Annals of Internal Medicine show that multivitamins might not be as effective as people had hoped.
Many doctors and researchers claim that you can get your essential vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet; but that's the issue for millions of Americans, isn't it - how healthy is our diet? And if it's not healthy enough should we take supplements? Some would claim that even a "below average" supplement is better than no supplement if you're not getting what you need from your diet.
False Sense of Security
Taking inferior nutritional supplements could give you a false sense of security, which could actually lead to vitamin deficiency issues. You might think you are giving your body what it needs with the supplements you take. However, if you are taking supplements that have little or no nutritional value (unbeknownst to you) it makes you think you’re healthier. As a result, you are less likely to make healthy eating choices because you feel like you’ve gotten your daily nutrients in a few pills. You might grab a piece of carrot cake instead of a few carrots, thinking to yourself, “I already got 100% of my Vitamin A today from my morning multivitamin.” Those who advocate for nutritional supplements believe that the answer is to make sure your supplements are high quality; it pays to do the research on different manufacturers. This isn't the time to skimp.
Reduced Potency Over Time
Many people aren't aware of this, but multivitamins can lose their potency as time progresses. If you buy multivitamins in bulk when taking advantage of sales, they will likely sit in your cabinet for months or years. As each day passes, multivitamins become less effective. When multivitamins reach a certain age it might make more sense to throw them away and buy new ones than to pass them through your system with little or no nutritional benefit.
Consider Your Nutritional Intake
There are a few studies, however, that conflict with these findings. Keep in mind that if you are taking a vitamin on your doctor’s advice for a nutritional deficiency or medical condition, you should not stop taking it. However, if you are otherwise healthy and have a good, wholesome diet, you may not need to supplement.
Do you eat diversely colored foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients? If so, you might not obtain much benefit from a daily multivitamin. Though nutritionists agree it is best to obtain your nutrition from food sources, a reputable multivitamin can provide missing nutrients in the event that your dietary intake is lacking. Make a concerted effort to consume healthy, unprocessed food and you can get most or all of your vitamins and nutrients the way that nature intended. Understandably, that's not so easy for everyone to do.
If you take supplements do some research to find the more trusted manufacturers of nutritional supplements. This might not be the time to look for the greatest bargains, you're looking for quality. This might be a good place to start.
Let us know your position on this topic: Do you take supplements? Why or why not? If you do take them, which ones do you take and why? Have you learned about any recommended manufacturers? Please post your comments and experiences below, they could help many others as this is a topic that many find hard to navigate.