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The Value of Multivitamins

Come Get Your Flintstones

Multivitamins (and minerals) are the most taken supplement in the US. Whether its kids begging for their candy tasting Flintstones or Seniors on Centrum, they have become the insurance policy to bad diets and poor eating habits. But are they doing us any good? Do we need them if we eat our fruits and vegetables? How much nutrition can they really put into little candy, gummy, or drink? Let’s find out if there are..

Multiple Reasons To Take Your Multi

Q: What are Multi-Vitamins?

A: There is no actual definition of what must be in a Multi-Vitamin. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, but the concept of a multi is that they address the nutritional gaps in your diet. They focus on deficiencies of micronutrients – nutrients you need small amounts of (micro) – vitamins and minerals. 

Q: Are there different types?

A: You might see some multi’s focused on certain health benefits – Multi + Joint, Multi + Heart, etc..but really the different types are for age groups – Children, Male, Female, Older vs. Younger.  These demographic differences will have lower or higher values of the same nutrient. For example, Women will have higher amounts of Folate then Men, or Children’s overall dosages will be lower. 

Q: Do they work?

A: The research is really mixed! You have as many studies showing they provide a benefit in Heart Disease, Immune Function, Brain Health, and Aging markers, as you do that say there is no “significant” difference. There are two things to note, sometimes the benefits can be small, not as significant, and for those that are healthy, they show no dangers or risks. 

Q: Any notable studies?

A: One review of close to 50,000 people showed a 31% lower risk of cancer in men (not women), a recent study revealed among women (not men) taking a multi lowered risk of dying from heart disease, one study found it slowed the progression of age related macular degeneration (eye health). The research is there to show they can be of great benefit if taken over time. 

Q: Should kids take them?

A: They won’t be harmful, but for most of the nutrients, they may not be as helpful either. Children do not necessarily need a lot and they can gain it from their foods which are often fortified. The dosages are pretty small in children approved products and the forms they are in, candy, gummy, etc..does not allow for a lot of nutrients. It would be valuable if a child has food restrictions (e.g. allergies, Crohn’s, vegan, etc.)

Q: Is 100% of the RDA enough?

A: For the most part, yes. Multi’s are there to provide a whole host of vitamins, minerals, not a concentrated amount of specific ones. I always take extra Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Omega-3, multi’s aren’t going to have enough. If you do see higher than 100% RDA, don’t be freaked, the RDA is the absolute minimum you need to prevent a disease/illness, you always need more than that.

Q: How should I choose the best one?

A: There are about 15 key vitamins and 9 minerals, choose a multi that has a wide range of these with dosages that are close to 100% of the RDA or higher.  Again, don’t freak about high dosages (as an adult), B-Vitamins and certain minerals maybe higher because you need more. Choose either a powder or capsule vs a tablet, tablets aren’t always easy to break down. Choose one with 3rd party certification to ensure what’s on the label is in the product – USP, NSF, GMP are all good stamps.