The topic of multivitamin supplementation is quite controversial. The proponents of multivitamin supplement swear its efficacy and deem it necessary for every individual to take a multivitamin supplement daily. The opponents, on the other hand, vehemently deny any benefits to these supplements and believe it’s a strategy to become rich for certain companies.
To take or not to take? When it comes to multivitamins, there are two extreme camps. The fact is, both views are overly simplistic and the truth lies in somewhere in the middle!
If you are looking for a quick “yes” or “no” answer to this question, then I may disappoint you. That’s because, the need to supplement depends on various things such as age, sex, location, activity level and the current diet you follow.
Examples of the ways in which these factors impact your body’s natural balance include:
- Pregnant women tend to have a greater risk of iron deficiency.
- Those who follow restrictive diets such as vegans are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin B12.
- People who live in the northern hemisphere lack mostly vitamin D.
So, if you’re still wondering if you need to take a supplement, then it’s fair to say that there isn’t a simple answer to this question but that there are some guidelines.
Here are two steps to take before you consider taking multivitamins.
Step 1: Take a quick self-assessment.
- Am I getting the proper nutrition I need from real, whole foods?
- What do I want to achieve by taking a multivitamin supplement?
Give some thought to these questions and see whether you are covering your nutritional needs with real whole foods. Are you having high-quality protein at every meal? How many servings of vegetables are you eating daily? What healthy fats can you include in your diet?
Here is the thing, before you turn to any supplement, you need to hone your fundamentals, i.e. eating a healthy, nutrient-rich, balanced meal most of the time.
Step 2: Take a basic blood panel to uncover your nutritional deficiencies.
Based on your blood panel, your physician can tell you whether you are deficient in certain vitamins or not. Depending on your results, you can move on to finding answers and knowing if multivitamins are the right decision for your goals and needs.
At Lean & Healthy, whenever we use a supplement, we use it not to replace real, whole foods but only to enhance our already existing nutrient profile.
Here is our four-point supplementation policy that we follow at Lean & Healthy:
- Supplements are optional. They are some great additions to your already lean and healthy lifestyle. If, however, you haven’t fixed your diet and exercise routine yet, these supplements will rarely help you.
- Supplements are taken to supplement your healthy meals. They are not a replacement for your healthy meals.
- Supplements are not magic bullets. They should be used as an addition to your already good foundation of a Lean & Healthy lifestyle.
- Good quality supplements are meant to improve your healthy body. They are not a cure for any diseases, but they might help your body prevent and resist certain diseases.
Be Strategic with Supplementation
Supplementing doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing consideration. It can be used strategically based on your needs.
I call myself a part-time multivitamin supplement user. When I’m at home and eat healthy meals at every meal, I don’t take any multivitamins. However, when I travel, fast or when I don’t have access to nutrient-rich, whole foods, I use multivitamins to supplement.
To Supplement or Not
Here is my simple answer: get most of your nutrients from real food. That is because the nutrients you get from whole foods is far superior to any expensive multivitamins. Supplement with multivitamins, when and if you don’t have access to the whole foods, such as while travelling.
There is a big advantage in eating whole foods; that is, whole foods provide the natural synergy of all of the nutrients together.
We become so focused on the health benefits of a certain vitamin or phytochemical that we miss an important point: different components in a single food can work together to benefit our health, and so can components in different foods that are eaten together.
We know that when a number of antioxidants, selenium and vitamin E are eaten together in a whole food, it gives us all sorts of health benefits. But studies of these single vitamins and minerals in supplement form have not shown the same success.
Therefore, studies suggest that it is the combination and interaction of all of these different phytochemicals and proteins that give a food its health benefit. Hence, taking a multivitamin, regardless of its quality and content, cannot provide you with the same advantage as whole foods.
And if you seriously consider taking a multivitamin, I highly recommend you to check this report from examine.com. They’ve indeed created an excellent report based on the latest research.
Want to increase your essential nutrients intake and improve your immune system? Here is a quick and easy way: