Are Multivitamins Necessary?

By Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

The great debate over whether you should take multivitamins is still hugely a controversy. You can argue that you fill your diet with nutrient rich foods, so you don’t need to supplement. The truth is, not all foods are created equally. In fact, most of what lands in your grocer’s product department is reaching the end of its shelf life.

The truth about produce
Unless you buy locally grown, organic product, chances are your fruits and veggies have been put through the ringer before they fall into your grocery basket. The competitive farming market causes farmers to create bio-engineered plants that are bigger, but not necessarily better. Most of what you buy at the market has seen a dramatic decrease in nutrients since the 1950’s.

Of course, then we need to look at what “organic” entails. Essentially, you may not really be getting what that higher sticker price promises. We do not have enough scientific evidence to back the quality of organically grown produces. Not only that, but any produce that crosses boundaries and is delivered longer distances needs to be sprayed with chemicals and pesticides anyway.

Don’t stop eating produce
This isn’t to say that you should steer clear of all produce. Fruits and veggies still benefit your health greatly.  Just not in the same sense as your grandmother’s generation.  Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods will increase your vitality and longevity. However, you need to supplement your diet with nutrients lacking in your foods.

Multivitamins are harmless
Even if you aren’t sold on the idea of taking supplements, multivitamins are harmless if taken as directed. So, if they aren’t doing you harm, take them because they may do you some good, too.

Taking a multivitamin will help prevent vitamin deficiencies caused by food quality, diet quality, and high intensity training. We’ve already addressed what’s lacking in your food, but what about your training?

Performing high intensity exercises, whether endurance or strength training, depletes your body of valuable nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Taking a multivitamin directly after a training session will restore lost nutrients and prevent free radicals from forming due to excess oxidation levels produced during training.

Read your supplement labels
Look for a multivitamin with the following:
Folic acid: increasing your folic acid intake will reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It also decreases the risk of birth defects in pregnant women.
Vitamin B12: Your ability to absorb vitamin b12 in foods declines with age. Getting an adequate amount in a vitamin supplement will decrease your risk of deficiency, especially in those over the age of 50.

Vitamin D: if you live in a part of the world that lacks adequate sunlight during certain seasons, or you wear sunscreen on a daily basis, you may not get enough vitamin D.

Iron: iron deficiency is common in children, adolescents, and premenopausal women.

Make sure your multivitamin supplements have the appropriate daily value recommended for your gender and age. As you age, your requirement increases due to your body’s inability to absorb certain nutrients.



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