YourFitnessDietitian

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The Mighty Multivitamin

guest post by Winthrop University undergraduate nutrition student, Chelsea Seawright

Have you ever taken Multivitamins? If so, why did you start and are you still taking them? Or have they been hiding in your medicine cabinet for quite some time? Most people use these dietary supplements because “They’re just good to take,” or, “They give you more energy.” Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. But do they? What’s all the hype and do they really provide adequate nutritional value? Should you take them? In short… yes and no. Multivitamins are dietary supplements that are taken to maintain proper intake of micronutrients to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). 

Essentially, multivitamins should only be taken when an individual’s diet is not well balanced. Adequate consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, should ensure that the vitamins and minerals are being met for the RDA. There is greater nutritional value in foods rather than supplements. But let’s be realistic…there’s going to be some variances in our daily intake. Sometimes we are going to want dried or canned fruits and vegetables. Other days we may have a sweet tooth and want to eat some cookies or a donut. I’m definitely not substituting my Dunkin’ [Donuts] for a whole wheat donut all the time. And there is nothing wrong with that. Generally, if a well balanced diet is not met consistently, a multivitamin may be recommended. Consulting a Registered Dietitian and/or a Doctor is best, however, to help assess your need for a multivitamin. 

Another obstacle to tackle when deciding on the need for a multivitamin or mineral is if you have any nutritional deficiencies. While anyone can experience a deficiency, those most at risk include the elderly, pregnant and nursing women, and those who are ill or have underlying conditions. For example, if you are deficient in Vitamin D, Folate,  Iron, or Vitamin B12, supplementation may be recommended by your Dietitian or Doctor. However, more commonly, the supplements you will be provided may be for one specific deficiency, rather than a multivitamin. Depending on severity, if one is deficient in Vitamin D, s/he may receive a Vitamin D supplement prescription which will most likely be a much higher dosage than what can be provided over the counter.

Last but not least, once you’ve decided whether a multivitamin is good for you or not, it’s important to consider in what form you’ll take it. How many of you choose the gummy vitamins? …You can raise your hand. It’s okay. I like them too. But there are important things to note. The gummy vitamins are a popular go-to because they usually taste better and are easier to consume than pills or tablets. But which one is better? Well, if you have trouble swallowing pills, then the gummy is the way to go. However, you should be cautious. Gummy vitamins are usually higher in added sugars and typically contain less or excessively more nutrients than the latter. That can lead to toxicity issues if taken in abundance or more than recommended.

The bottom line is this: if you eat a well balanced diet, you should not need a multivitamin. If you take one anyway, you most likely won’t notice a large difference in your energy because you are getting most of the nutrients you need in your diet. It is vital that you talk to a Registered Dietitian or Doctor to assess your need for a multivitamin, especially if you have any deficiencies. Drug nutrient interactions can take a toll on your body, so if you’re already on medication, don’t add supplements unless you consult these professionals first. Lastly, if you are okay with swallowing pills, that just may be the best option. If not, gummies may be the way to go.

Streit, L., MS,RDN,LD. (2019, January 30). Do Gummy Vitamins Work, and Are They Good or Bad For You. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gummy-vitamins

Should I Take a Daily Multivitamin? (2020, July 23). Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/

Fletcher, J., & Thompson, C., PhD, RD. (2019, September 30). Absorption of Gummy Vitamins Vs. Chewables. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/443399-absorption-of-gummy-vitamins-vs-chewables/

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