If you take a top-quality, once-a-day multivitamin supplement, then you can be fairly certain that your vitamin and mineral needs are being met to an adequate standard. People with medical conditions, such as heart disease or Alzheimer’s, will need more specialist attention to their vitamin/mineral/supplement profile than someone who is “normally” healthy. For example, heart disease patients might benefit from supplementing with Coenzyme Q10, which the body produces naturally but does less so with age. Vitamin C and E taken regularly has shown to be preventative of Alzheimer’s disease and perhaps even thwart it altogether.
At this point of the article, I should disclose that I am not a doctor or nutritionist, but I do know how to research and get information from those who are qualified. I also have experience in using multivitamins in various forms over many years.
It’s safe to say that in present times, more people than ever before are actively concerned with and directly involved in their own health and wellness. This surge of health-consciousness that has gone globally viral has opened up previously unheard-of markets. These markets are formed by the desire of people to take better day-to-day care of themselves. There is therefore a hug incentive for companies to produce and sell dietary supplements that actually work and show benefits.
What types of multivitamins are there?
Usually, a multivitamin supplement will contain a complete or near-complete profile of all essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Each individual component can range from under the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to many times more than the RDA. It is also possible that the particular supplement is composed for a specific group or purpose. For example, you can but multivitamins for children under five years old, pregnant women, highly active athletes, etc. There are also your standard, “base level” multivitamins that should cover most people. If you are unsure of which type to take, always consult a physician to get expert advice.
It should be mentioned here that vitamins in liquid form are more easily absorbed into the body’s system, in fact up to five times more absorption takes place with liquid vitamins. It is therefore even more important to be sure of what you are taking in this case, as certain vitamins taken in the wrong way can in fact be lethal.
Which multivitamin should I take?
There are 13 essential vitamins that the body needs to maintain health and function properly. The vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, B12, and the 7 B-complexes have to be continuously ingested as they get used and eliminated by the body. The body also does not produce these by itself. Vitamin D is made by exposure to sunlight. The rest of these vitamins are only obtained by our body through the food that we eat.
Deficiency of any of the essential vitamins is definitely not something desirable by anyone. Generally you can become weak, ill or even dead through vitamin deficiency. Supplementation is a way to ensure that you are getting enough of the essential vitamins to keep those illnesses at bay. As an example, sailors in the old days used to get scurvy as a result of vitamin C deficiency on their long voyages.
It is quite possible to obtain all nutritional requirements, including essential vitamins and minerals, from eating a well balanced, varied and healthy diet. However, this is not always achieved by everyone in the world, so a multivitamin supplement makes sense to include in the diet to cover all bases, as it were.
When should I take a multivitamin?
The main motivation in the regular use of multivitamins is to prevent vitamin or nutrient deficiency. There are certain other circumstances in which taking a multivitamin is a very good idea. Examples include people who smoke, who put their bodies under great strain to flush out the toxic materials introduced by smoke inhalation. Heavy alcohol users are also in a similar position.
In the case of pregnant women, taking multivitamins every day reduces the chances of the baby and mother becomingn malnutritioned, particularly important during the first trimester.
Very busy lives and the onset of stress can also require specialist multivitamin supplementation. Imagine the high-achiever who is rushed off their feet and barely has time to grab a coffee. Things like balanced meals and optimal nutrition profiles can often take a back seat for these types of go-getters. The convenience factor for them in taking a simple multivitamin pill every day or every other day will ensure that they remain on the good side of vitamin intake.
Also in the general case, daily multivitamins minimize the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other illnesses.
Are there vitamins to avoid?
Although vitamin deficiency is a cause for concern, it is also possible to take too much vitamins, which can also wreak havoc with the human body.
Here’s a piece of advice that you should always follow: never eat polar bear liver.
If you ever encounter a polar bear, it is far more likely to feast on your liver rather than the other way around. But if you have the opportunity to try polar bear liver, turn it down immediately. The reason for this is that it contains high amounts, very, very high amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins, but too much at once in your system will end your life in some very unpleasant ways.
Other supplements to be careful of are vitamin B6. Too much of this over a long period of time will also be harmful.
Another vitamin to be aware of is vitamin E. This is also an antioxidant the same as vitamins A and C. One study showed that men who took vitamin E were at greater risk of developing prostate cancer.
Multivitamins are in general a good addition to a balanced and healthy diet. If you are absolutely positive that you are getting all essential and beneficial nutrients from the food that you eat, then there is less of a need to supplement with vitamin pills, powders or fluids. Illnesses caused by malnutrition can be alleviated or even cured by taking multivitamin supplements, but not all illnesses will be cured this way. Be aware of vitamin toxicity, stay away from polar bear liver, use common sense, research, seek professional advice and you should be just fine.