According to the latest research, large numbers of the population take some sort of a multivitamin on a daily basis. There is a great deal of discussion on the subject of whether vitamin supplementation is a good idea or even if they are necessary. There is no doubt that in general multivitamin supplementation can help to promote optimal health and support the immune system.
Are multivitamin supplements really necessary?
In my opinion, a multivitamin supplement is absolutely imperative no matter how healthy you are or even how well you eat. Our bodies require vitamins and minerals constantly to run efficiently and effectively. Most of these vitamins can be obtained from a well balanced healthy diet, however because of poor soil quality and modern farming practices, many of the nutrients are not present in the soil and hence not in the foods. Most of us also lead a hectic lifestyle which often means readily prepared meals or regular fast food meals which are often devoid of nutrients and are often laden with artery clogging oils and fats.
The fresh foods, including vegetables and fruits, which reach the supermarket shelves are often a few days old which can also result in oxidation of some of the nutrients within them. Far too many people are also living under stressful situations, which may result in poor nutrient availability due to improper digestion. To summarise, nutritionally inadequate food, stress, lack of exercise and poor eating habits all ruin our chances of eating a healthy and balanced diet and these reasons are precisely why we should consider the use of a good multivitamin supplement.
There are numerous studies that indicate deficiencies of many vitamins and minerals within the adult population and notable examples include vitamin D3, vitamin K, vitamin B-12 and magnesium. In most of these cases, studies indicate that well over 60% of the adult population is deficient in all these nutrients mentioned and in fact in the case of vitamin K this may be as high as 90 percent!
The role of vitamins and minerals
Vitamins are important nutritional substances that the body requires on a regular basis. All the organs within our bodies have specialised functions. These organs perform chemical reactions through the use of enzymes and co-enzymes. Vitamins act as co-enzymes and allow these reactions to take place. It therefore follows that any vitamin deficiency will result in the appropriate gland not working efficiently. I am going to briefly describe the role that the most common vitamins and minerals play within our bodies.
- Vitamin A – helps promote healthy vision and supports the immune system.
- Vitamin B’s – a complex of eight distinct vitamins that are essential for metabolism, energy production, healthy muscle and nerve function, immune system and cell growth.
- Vitamin C – helps promote tissue growth and cell repair.
- Vitamin D3 – nearly every gland in the body requires this vitamin and its actions are varied.
- Vitamin E – helps support the cardiovascular and circulatory system, it also serves as an antioxidant
- Calcium – required for healthy bones and for contracting nerves to help achieve the movement of muscles.
- Magnesium – required for energy production, relaxing phase of nerve and muscle function and for a healthy cardiovascular function.
- Potassium – helps regulate fluid balance, helps promote healthy neuromuscular function and is critical for helping to counteract the negative health implications of chronic stress.
- Zinc – an absolutely essential mineral involved in over 200 different functions within our bodies including immune function, hormone synthesis, skin and reproductive health, blood sugar balance and eye health.
These are just some of the major vitamins and minerals that the body requires on an ongoing basis for its optimal function. A deficiency in any of these crucial vitamins and minerals could have an impact within our bodies. Some studies indicate that using a daily multivitamin alone may extend your lifespan by 9.8 years by helping to reduce inflammation within our bodies.
Which multivitamin should I take because the choices are endless?
This is a question I get asked almost daily. The answer is not that simple because there are several things to consider and they include whether the supplement offers synthetic or semi-synthetic vitamins and whether the nutrients within the formulation are presented in therapeutic strengths.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of multivitamins contain synthetic vitamins or semi-synthetic nutrients, with some using mega doses that can actually do more harm than good. I normally always recommend ‘food state’ multivitamins because these contain nutrients that are found close enough to their structure in foods, rather than being synthetic in nature, or semi-synthetic, both of which are poorly utilised by the body. The body gets its nutrients from food, so why not take a multinutrient that closely resembles, or is actually chemically identical, to that found in food.
I normally recommend a very comprehensive multinutrient such as Alive Ultra Potency Multivitamin. This supplement provides vitamins, minerals, green foods, fruit extracts and much more, all derived from whole foods so these nutrients are all in their natural state for ease of absorption and utilisation by the body.
Many of you are often seeking a one-a-day multivitamin and I urge you to be cautious when thinking of purchasing one. The reason for this is that often these multivitamin formulations use synthetic isolated vitamins which are ill-absorbed by the body. They often also use mega strengths of certain vitamins and much lower strengths of others. You only have to read the labels and you will find that some of these supplements show 5000% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) of certain vitamins. The problem with mega strengths is that in many cases when a vitamin is presented in a very high strength, it may actually compete with another vitamin for absorption and that is not ideal. There is however some good food state multivitamins such as Daily Fruit & Veggie by Natrol which provides all the essential vitamins and minerals in an easy to swallow tablet.
Both the multivitamin supplements I mention are manufactured by reputable companies and this is important for reasons of quality and bioavailability of vitamins within the formulations.