We were always taught to take a daily multivitamin so that we can obtain all the vitamins and minerals we need. Is it necessary for us to take one? The answer to this, just like to most questions, is it depends. Most multivitamins give you an overabundance on specific vitamins and minerals. The image below shows the nutrition label of a standard multivitamin.
The benefit of taking a daily multivitamin is that you get over 100% of many of the vitamins you need. But what does your body do with this?
What's The Problem?
The reason that daily multivitamins are not all they are made out to be is because the bioavailability of nutrients is significantly less in supplement form than in whole foods. Bioavailability refers to how well nutrients are absorbed and utilized by your body. Whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and meat have high bioavailability meaning our body efficiently uses the nutrients found in these foods. Supplements have a low bioavailability meaning that they are high in specific vitamins and minerals, but our body does a poor job of absorbing and using them. Supplements are an excellent way to SUPPLEMENT your diet. If you do not receive enough of a specific nutrient in your diet, that is where supplements are beneficial. If you do not receive any nutritional value from the food you eat, you should consider revising your diet rather than count on supplementation to fill that void.
Should I Take One?
How is your diet? If you eat a healthy and diverse diet, a multivitamin is not necessary to take. You receive all of the minerals and nutrients needed to thrive through eating healthy foods such as meats, fruits, and vegetables. If you can realistically look at your diet and say you eat 2-3 servings of meat and 3/4 servings of fruits and vegetables daily there is no need to take a multivitamin. If you do not eat a healthy diet, a multivitamin will help but is not nearly as beneficial as receiving your nutrients from the food you eat. Eat well and no multivitamin is necessary. Eat poorly and perhaps a multivitamin will help, but there is a better way. Eat well, live well.