As children, we were always reminded to take our daily vitamins. It was as essential as brushing our teeth and doing our homework. But now we’re adults, and there’s nobody around to remind us. Yet, around 68% of American adults take multivitamins daily, and 84% express an overall confidence in nutritional supplements.
But how much do we really know about what we’re taking? Do we need supplements in order to call our diet healthy and balanced? In this post, we’ll help you decide by looking at the research and outlining the pros and cons of multivitamins. We’ll also take a look at some of the most popular options currently on the market.
The Purpose of Multivitamins
It’s easy to get carried away by the persuasive marketing that surrounds multivitamins. Some claim to make you healthier than ever, keeping you safe from more diseases than you can name. While many of these claims are likely inflated, multivitamins are far from placebos.
Their intended purpose is fairly simple – to provide a sufficient number of vitamins and minerals to make up for the deficiencies in your diet. There are subsequent benefits to this, such as an improvement in bodily functions, stress relief, and improved mental health.
However, if our diets are already providing enough of a certain vitamin, too much can be risky, leading to serious health complications. To better understand how multivitamins can affect our bodies, we need to look at the research.
What Studies Have Shown
Research around the use and effects of multivitamins is fairly extensive but often inconclusive or incomplete. However, the results of many of these studies paint a pretty clear picture.
In 2010, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition carried out two separate studies, analyzing over a decade of data. The first study found that women who take multivitamins are 19% more likely to develop breast cancer. Whereas the second study found that participants who take multivitamins daily were 27% less likely to have a heart attack.
Harvard’s 2012 study involving over 14,000 physicians found that those taking multivitamins were 8% less likely to develop cancer over the 11-year trial. However, their risk of having a stroke or heart attack didn’t seem to be reduced. Another study carried out in Australia a year later concluded that multivitamins have no effect on all-cause mortality rates.
These are just some of the countless studies that were conducted in recent years. What’s clear is that it’s difficult to determine exactly how much of a role multivitamins play in our risk of contracting life-threatening diseases and conditions.
Taking Too Much
The most important thing to keep in mind is knowing how much is too much. Most excess vitamins will pass through your system without any issues. However, certain vitamins like A and D won’t let you off as easily. Because they’re fat soluble, they can build up in your body tissue and damage your bones, blood vessels, and kidney.
Make sure to read up on the multivitamins you’ve chosen and stick to those that offer a maximum of 100% recommended daily dosage. Granted, around 1000% is where most health risks lie – but it’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, there’s absolutely no benefit to having too much of a certain vitamin.
If you’re still deciding on which brand to go for – which, with the plethora of different options currently on offer, is quite understandable – then be sure to head to Price Pro Pharmacy, where you can choose from a variety of Canadian pharmacy meds and have them shipped straight to your door.
Choosing the Right Multivitamin
Not all multivitamins are made equal, and certain types are suited towards certain individuals. Most doctors recommend finding a multivitamin based on your age and sex. Certain versions are usually made for children, adults and the elderly, along with their male or female variants.
Food-based vitamins, which are easier to consume, are also an option. However, these usually come at a much higher price. These types of multivitamins claim to offer superior absorption and improved digestion. However, such claims are not always validated.
That said, a proven advantage of these pills is that they can be taken on an empty stomach. They also have a decreased risk of causing an upset stomach. If these advantages justify the increased cost for you, then food-based multivitamins may be worth a try.
There are also multivitamins tailored towards pregnant women, which contain higher percentages of folic acid and iron, both of which aid in preventing birth defects. Because women are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, multivitamins containing vitamin D and calcium are highly recommended. This also applies to seniors who need vitamin D to maintain strong bones.
Other Nutritional Supplements
A popular option is fish oil, which is recommended to help with heart health. The idea is that most of us don’t get enough fish in our diet, and would, therefore, benefit from such a product. If you’re interested in picking some up, be sure to do your research and find a fish oil that doesn’t contain extra fats, as these are usually added as fillers.
Probiotics are another popular supplement that promotes a healthy gut and aid with digestion. More expensive probiotics offer higher absorption rates, which helps your body absorb more of the vitamins. Expect to pay around $40 for a decent batch of these supplements.
Lastly, there’s vitamin D. This standalone vitamin supplement is recommended for those who lack sun exposure. Vitamin D supplements are said to be essential for anyone who’s not getting at least 20 minutes of unprotected (without sunscreen) sunlight on a daily basis.
The most important thing to remember is that no amount of factory-made vitamins and minerals can substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. Unless you’re on a specific diet or have health complications, it’s completely possible to get all the nutrients you need from what you eat alone.