Ever walk by the vitamin aisle at the store and see a world of choices? If you’re not actively taking a multi-vitamin, you may wonder if you’re missing out.
Many people swear by their daily multi-vitamin, but is that the right choice for you? Keep reading and we’ll discuss the ins and outs of these supplements.
What are multi-vitamins?
Let’s start by defining what a multi-vitamin is. Vitamins are absolutely crucial to the health and function of the human body. There are two basic types of vitamins: fat soluble and water-soluble.
There are 13 basic vitamins that humans need to consume on a regular basis. Most people who eat a healthy diet will get the majority of these vitamins and minerals through natural processes, though perhaps not in the exact recommended quantities. Each of these vitamins plays a different role in the human body including digestion, cognitive function, metabolic response, enzyme production, and healthy function of internal organs and processes.
Multi-vitamins are usually pills that contain multiple minerals, vitamins, and supplemental nutritional elements. There are thousands of different multi-vitamins available on the market, and finding the right one for you can be a challenge.
Who should take multi-vitamins?
Many doctors recommend that individuals who are having a difficult time eating a diet which provides them with all of the vitamins that they need can supplement with a regular multi-vitamin. The idea is that taking a supplement will fill in any gaps in nutrition that they lack.
What are the benefits of multi-vitamins?
Many people report that taking multi-vitamins improves their brain function, energy level, stamina, and positive outlook on life. There’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence that multi-vitamins have a positive effect on the human body and life outcomes. Medical studies have proven that there are also certain other placebo benefits in taking multi-vitamins as well.
Different multi-vitamins attempt to address different aspects of health including improving mood, reducing stress, boosting memory, decreasing fatigue, reducing the risk of cancer, improving the heart functions, and increasing energy levels. The list of possible benefits is almost endless.
Multi-vitamins are marketed as a medical insurance policy; the idea is that people will take these products to ensure that they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals that their bodies need. Most people report that it is too difficult to try to get every vitamin and mineral the doctors recommend through a typical modern diet (think busy schedules, the time required to keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand, the ease of processed food, fast food, etc.)
Furthermore, as people go through life, their dietary needs change, but all too often their diets do not. This is one reason that pregnant women, for instance, are often encouraged to take special supplements and vitamins during pregnancy.
Are multi-vitamins safe?
Multi-vitamins are generally considered safe. With millions of people taking them on a regular basis, there have been very few reports of adverse side effects, and most of those effects have been mild.
Are there any risks in taking multi-vitamins?
Supplements are generally considered safe if taken according to the manufacturer's recommendations. However, as with any product that enters the human body, there could be potential adverse reactions including allergies, reactions with other prescription medications a person might be taking, or stomach discomfort.
Are multi-vitamins regulated?
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates all vitamins for safety and quality and does periodic checks for efficacy (commercial sponsors must be able to present evidence that their product works if they are reviewed by the TGA).
Multi-vitamins are limited to pre-approved, low risk ingredients and held to a high standard for quality manufacturing. Check for the AUST L number on the packaging, which is the number assigned to low-risk medicines such as multi-vitamins by the TGA.
Do multi-vitamins work for everyone?
It is important to consult with a licensed physician before markedly changing one’s diet, or taking any supplement, mineral, or multi-vitamin. There is no “one size fits all” approach to any medical condition or dietary gap. Multi-vitamins that may work for one person may not be the best fit for someone else. For instance, it is very common to see certain multi-vitamins that are geared for men and different multi-vitamins that are recommended for women.
Individuals with underlying health conditions or previous adverse reactions to minerals and supplements should not take multi-vitamins unless under the direct care of a physician.
In short, multi-vitamins can close up important gaps in modern day nutrition. Talk to your doctor about which vitamin is best to meet your health needs. Note that women’s vitamins may have different ingredients than men’s vitamins by design, and your age can affect the natural supplements that you need as well. As you search for the right multi-vitamin, make sure that you choose a high-quality product that contains the proper amounts of the nutrients you need and that is not packed with non-beneficial fillers.
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