Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like: multiple vitamins. They're supplements that contain several different vitamins in each one. They can also contain several minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids. And because there are multiple ingredients, there are low doses of each ingredient.
In fact, they are the most commonly used supplements in the world! There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health. You need certain amounts of all of these nutrients for optimal health. In fact, nutrient deficiencies can impact reproduction, growth, and regulation of bodily processes.
Lots of people say that if you follow a "balanced diet," you'll get enough vitamins and minerals. I personally would love to believe it, but it's just not true. Many people are eating way too much processed food that is devoid of nutrition, our soils are depleted of minerals from overuse, our vegetables and fruit, if not organic, are sprayed with glyphosate, or they might have compromised digestion by leaky gut, bacterial/yeast/viral infections which prevent them from properly absorbing nutrients from food. There's a lot of research that shows many people don't get enough vitamins and minerals they need from food alone, period.
How do you know which vitamins and minerals are in your multivitamin? Read the label, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If there are at least three different vitamins and minerals listed, it’s a multivitamin. Always look for vitamins that are from real organic food sources and have not additives or fillers.
Do multivitamins work?
Multivitamins have been studied quite a bit. The quality of the multivitamins studied has not been consistent though. Some studies consider any supplements with at least three vitamins to be a "multivitamin." Most of the time, the multivitamins studied are ones that are very popular and are available everywhere. So, what exactly do we know about the health benefits of multivitamins?
Here’s a quick summary of the science:
● Multivitamin use is linked with improved moods. Interestingly, if someone has nutrient deficiencies, they may have mood imbalances. So, if the multivitamin addresses an underlying deficiency, this makes sense.
● In terms of memory and cognitive performance (ability to think), there seems to be an improvement in people who regularly take multivitamins.
● In terms of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, there seems to be a slight improvement.
● In terms of heart disease, the results are mixed. There may be an increase, or a decrease, or no effect on risk of heart attacks.
● In terms of cancer, there is a slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.
● In terms of mortality (death), there doesn't seem to be a clear increase or decrease in mortality rates for people who take multivitamins.
All in all, multivitamins aren’t magical “health pills.” They’re not guaranteed to improve your mental or physical health, or help you live longer; but, they do have some health benefits.
Are multivitamins safe?
Just about every study that looked to see if multivitamins were health-promoting, also looked at side effects. They have consistently shown that multivitamins are very safe.
Now, I’m not talking about high-dose supplements. High doses of many nutrients can be harmful. But specifically for multivitamins where there are several nutrients included, all of which are in low doses. Those are safe. Unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner advise otherwise, you want to stick to the dose on the label. That dose should be safe for most people.
However, there are many times when supplements (not just multivitamins) have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what's on the label; this may be different quantities of vitamins or minerals. Sometimes they contain ingredients that are not supposed to be in them at all (like toxins or prescription medicines)
This is why choosing supplements rom reputable companies is so important. Do your research and do not be afraid to contact them directly and ask for more specifics.
I love using vitamins to fill in gaps where needed, because we cannot eat a perfect diet all of the time. For example, I give my kids a multivitamin that is age appropriate and contains all the nutrients necessary to support their growing brains, helps with digestion and overall wellness. They are chewy and makes it easy for me because they don’t put up much of a fight to eat them!
Multivitamins alone are not a way to optimal health, but there are great benefits to taking them. Since they contain low doses of many different nutrients, they're also safe (as long as you have a quality product). Of course, a multivitamin will never help if you have a poor diet. We need to work on having great digestion so that we benefit more from the foods we eat, and need less supplements to make us feel better. There is no secret, it is where we need to put our focus first. I always recommend eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods because there is plenty of evidence that many diseases start at the gut level, where we digest and extract vital nutrients from food.
This is why I’ve created my Kick Sugar for Good Challenge, where I walk you through 5 days of removing processed foods from your diet to get you feeling amazing fast! You need to first heal at the digestive level before you can properly absorb nutrients from real food, and once that happens, you can start to enjoy the benefits of adding a good quality, whole foods-based multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps. Click below to sign up for the FREE challenge!
In the meantime, try out my superfood salad - It’s like a multivitamin with benefits!
(with salmon, optional)
2 handfuls of greens (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, etc.)
½ cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, grated
2 handfuls grape tomatoes
2 handfuls fresh berries
2 broiled salmon fillets (optional)
¼ cup hemp seeds
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 dash salt
2 dashes black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Grab two large bowls and put one handful of greens each. Split all the rest of the fruits and vegetables, placing half in each bowl.
Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, honey/maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Pour over salad before serving.
Top with salmon and hemp seeds.
Serve & enjoy!
‘til next time friends!
Tip: You can use grilled shrimp instead of the salmon.