Do You Need a Multivitamin
One of the most common questions when it comes to supplementing with a daily multivitamin is if it’s necessary. Are multivitamins worth it?
While a multivitamin should not replace a balanced and nutrient-dense diet, a high-quality whole food multivitamin can help complement a wholesome diet. This is because the foods we eat are not the same as the foods our ancestors ate. Even a whole foods based diet can be void of certain important vitamins and minerals due to soil depletion. The truth is that the fruits and vegetables we are consuming have become less nutritious over the last half a century.
A study found that we would have to consume eight oranges to get as much vitamin A as our grandparents would have received from eating just one! (2)
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry also took a look at the US Department of Agriculture’s nutritional data from 43 different vegetables from the years 1950 and 1999. They concluded that there was a decline in nutritional value over these years. Researchers saw a decline in protein, vitamin C, B2, iron, phosphorus, and calcium. They attributed the nutritional decline to the change in agricultural practices such as pesticide use and growth rate. (3)
These two studies are bringing to light some serious facts about the soil our food is grown in. It also gives us a better idea as to why a daily multivitamin may be a good idea to fill in nutritional gaps, even if we follow a whole foods diet.
“Americans are well-fed but undernourished”
While soil depletion is a big reason we are not getting all the vitamins and minerals we need from diet alone, the Standard American Diet is a whole separate issue we need to address.
The processed, convenience foods so many Americans rely on as their sole sources of nutrition are a big cause of nutritional deficiencies. Processed and artificial foods are nutritionally void of important nutrients we need for optimal health.
Functional Medicine Doctor, Chris Kresser has stated that Americans are well-fed, but undernourished. (4) This is an epidemic in our country and an issue that many Americans are dealing with.
A study found that 31% of the US population was at risk for developing at least one vitamin deficiency. The study also concluded that those who did not take a multivitamin had a 40% risk of developing a nutrient deficiency, as compared to those who supplemented with a multi, who only had a 14% risk. (5)
What this shows us is that the Standard American Diet is leading to vitamin deficiencies, and even if we focus on a nutrient-dense diet full of fruits and veggies we still need to be vigilant.
Consider the studies we’ve referenced when asking yourself if you should take a multivitamin. It’s clear that those who use whole food supplements such as a quality multivitamin regularly are at a lower risk of deficiency.
Pair a whole food multivitamin with a balanced diet, and you can help reduce your risk of deficiency and support your overall health.
Due to the often inadequate food sources found in our daily diets, we aren’t getting all of our nutrients from foods. For this reason, we may all benefit from supplementing with a whole food multivitamin. As one research study showed, those who took a multivitamin had a lower risk of deficiency.
As always, be sure to use a food first approach, and use the multivitamin as a complement to a balanced diet.
Older adults, as well as, vegans and vegetarians may also benefit from supplementing with a multivitamin, and pregnant, and breastfeeding moms should speak with their doctor about the right supplement for them. (9)