Taking a daily multivitamin may be a habit worth forming. While it is best to consume sufficient nutrients through diet alone, supplements can help protect against disease while supporting optimal body functioning. Taking a multivitamin is safer and more efficient than taking doses of individual vitamins. A simple multivitamin is an appropriate nutrient boost for most people, but beware of “mega” and “super” supplements. Ingesting vitamins in excess of the recommended daily allowances can have harmful side effects. Check with your doctor before taking multivitamins with herbal additives, which can have drug interactions.
Prevents Nutritional Deficiencies
Instead of taking individual vitamins, it’s more convenient and cost-effective to take one pill containing 100 percent of the Daily Values recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As you age, the synthetic form of vitamin B-12 found in multivitamins is easier to absorb than from food sources. Women generally do not absorb sufficient folate from food; taking a multivitamin fortified with folic acid protects against pregnancy complications. Vegetarians, vegans and those on low-calorie diets benefit from the comprehensive nutritional support a daily multivitamin offers.
Reduces Disease Risk
Taking a multivitamin may help reduce your risk of serious diseases as you age. A 2012 study published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” found that men who took a daily multivitamin experienced an 8 percent reduction in cancer risk. Women’s multivitamin formulas contain extra calcium to help prevent osteoporosis. Multivitamins with antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids like vitamin A are believed to neutralize damaging free radicals in the body, protecting skin, eye and bone health.
Supports Athletic Performance
Multivitamins do not directly provide an energy boost during your workout, but certain vitamins and minerals help your body release energy derived from food sources. If you are nutritionally deficient, you may feel constantly sluggish, which will cause poor athletic performance. The B-vitamin family plays a crucial role in helping the body maintain energy production during physical activity. If you focus on weight-bearing exercises, make sure your multivitamin contains vitamin D and calcium to support bone health.
Issues to Consider
If you eat a diet rich in fortified foods, multivitamin supplements may be unnecessary and cause toxicity reactions. Taking multivitamins in large doses that exceed the Daily Values may cause symptoms such as flushing, heart palpitations, headaches and diarrhea.
References & Resources
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamins The Bottom Line
- Alliance for Aging Research: What To Take For Hype: The Truth About The Anti-Aging Benefits of Vitamins and Minerals
- IDEA Health & Fitness Association: Multiple Answers About Multivitamins
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Men
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men
- Clinical Interventions in Aging: Vitamins in Aging, Health, and Longevity
- Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: Vitamin Needs of Athletes
- Open Biology: Oxidants, Antioxidants and the Current Incurability of Metastatic Cancers