Is a Multivitamin Actually Necessary?
If I were to ask you to choose only one supplement to take for the rest of your life, what would it be? Whey protein? Your favorite pre-workout? Leucine?
If you chose a comprehensive multivitamin, then give yourself a pat on the back! Most forget about this supplement and when mentioned, most envision those cartoon character shaped gummy multivitamins they had as kids. While some just don’t even think about buying an adult multi and giving it a try, others shun them outright calling them nothing more than expensive pee.
The reason why a multivitamin can be less popular than a fat burner or intense pre-workout is for the simple fact that you could be buying the top of the line multi, and have no idea if it’s working. In this article I will discuss what to look for in a good multi, how much it should cost, how long it should last, and more.
With thousands of multivitamins to choose from it can easily get frustrating to find what you need and in what amounts, not to mention trying to get a good deal. It is also important to mention that a multi is better known as nutrient insurance, no matter what multi you get it’s no excuse to slack on getting your fruits and veggies to fill as many of your vitamin and mineral requirements as you can.
Put differently, a multi is meant to fill the gaps when you miss out on your daily recommended vitamin and mineral needs for whatever reason. That being said, choosing a good multi with a wide variety of nutrients is top importance because it’s usually difficult to get them all every day from whole foods. First understanding what certain vitamin and minerals do will help you find the right product for what your diet is lacking.
Below is a list of the top vitamins and minerals that should be included in your multivitamin:
☑ Vitamin A – Supports your immune system, vision and bone growth.
☑ B vitamins – Contributes to normal nerve function, skin health and digestive system.
☑ Vitamin C – Supports your immune system and protects cell membranes.
☑ Vitamin D – Supports healthy hormone levels and absorption of calcium.
☑ Vitamin E – Supports your immune system and is a potent antioxidant.
☑ Vitamin K – Keeps your bones, teeth and cartilage healthy.
☑ Zinc – Supports immune health.
☑ Calcium – Keeps your bones and teeth strong.
☑ Boron – Helps your body process calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
☑ Manganese – Actives important bodily enzymes and helps energy production.
☑ Magnesium – supports muscle function and other biochemical reactions.
☑ Selenium – Help prevent numerous health issues.
☑ Chromium – Helps insulin production and strengthens connective tissue.
☑ Iodine – Important for hormone production.
As you can see a comprehensive spectrum of important ingredients can go on and on. The minimum amount of every ingredient should be at least 100% of your DV (daily values). Be careful though, as some vitamins you can overdose on if consumed in excess. All of the above vitamins besides vitamin C and the B vitamins are fat soluble, meaning they need fat to bind to, allowing them to be absorbed and stored. The problem is these vitamins can be overdosed if taken in excess, meaning one serving a day of your multi is recommended.
On the other hand, vitamin C and B vitamins are water soluble, meaning no matter how much of the vitamin you consume, it’ll be excreted out through your urine. This is a double edged sword though, because these vitamins need to be taken in larger amounts the more water you drink per day which is why I encourage also purchasing a separate vitamin C source, whether it be powder, a pill or orange juice. The same goes for a B-complex pill which should be taken at different time of day than your multi.
Extra Ingredients In Your Multivitamin?
Many multivitamins are now putting extra ingredients in their product not in the above list, and while not necessary they shouldn’t be ignored. Some extras that most multivitamins are now including are ingredients such as:
☐ Alpha Lipoic Acid
☐ Ginkgo Biloba
While these extras are not bad, they aren’t necessarily needed daily for good health. Don’t fall in the trap of a pill that includes extras such as amino acids, testosterone boosters, creatine and other completely separate supplements that are added just to raise the price of the multi. Most of these supplements are required in multiple gram doses, making their existence in a multivitamin largely useless.
Finding The Right Price Point
Finding a moderately priced multivitamin is also important because some can run you upwards of $50 for a month’s supply. Trust me when I say there is a limit to the amount of things you can put into a multivitamin.
In reality all you really need is the listed above ingredients, usually fit into two to three pills to be taken daily. A good moderate price for a multivitamin is in the $15-$20 price range, supplying about 90 servings in a container. In perspective that’s about $60-$80 for an entire years supply, not bad considering it will most likely prevent you from contracting various infections and illnesses a few times a month, depending on your level of cleanliness (even if you don’t know it).
Take Home Message
Talk to any fitness savvy individual, professional athlete, or dietitian and they will all agree that along with a healthy diet, a multivitamin is the single most important supplement to take consistently. Macronutrients are very easy to get from whole food sources, but getting your daily requirements of every major vitamin and mineral will cost quite a bit, and require you to eat a wide variety of foods daily, which most of us don’t have the money or time for. Of course like previously stated a multivitamin should only be used to fill the gaps, as you should be trying actively to get all these vitamins from natural sources as much as possible.
It’s also important to reiterate that you should do your best to not fall for expensive multivitamins with excessive ingredients that have no business being there, and keep your price range in the $15-$20 range, making sure all the vitamins have the minimum 100% daily value of all included vitamins.