Research today suggests that over 65% of adults in the UK take multivitamins daily, with that figure rising to 68% in America. Numerous health warnings about the risks associated with vitamin deficiency are ever supported by the media, resulting in more adults the ever before popping a pill daily to ensure they meet their Adequate Intake levels.
There’s no question that multivitamins do work, but understanding how they work, and under which circumstances they work best is important to ensure maximum benefit to your overall health.
In this article, we discuss the advantages and pitfalls of multivitamins and how best to benefit from them.
If taken correctly, multivitamins have a wide array of popular benefits, including:
If you have been feeling a little under the weather, your body may begin to struggle to get all the vitamins it needs to return to its optimum function, in which case taking a multivitamin supplement could be beneficial. For instance, contrary to popular belief, vitamin C doesn’t actually help to prevent a cold; however, making sure your levels are reaching their recommended daily amount could reduce the duration by up to a day by improving immune function. Similarly, zinc has the same effect. If you often find yourself picking up infections, consider taking vitamin E to boost your immunity.
Although the most obvious answer to tiredness is aiming to get more sleep, for more obvious, immediate results you can take vitamin B12 and magnesium. With research showing that vitamin B12 also helps to boost your mood, the well-loved supplement is perfect for those early starts or Monday morning meetings.
No matter your age, if you find yourself often forgetting things, consider taking B vitamins such as folic acid, B6 and B12, as well as antioxidants such as vitamins E and C to boost your overall cognitive function, including your memory. Similarly, these vitamins have been proven to aid concentration, which could improve your productivity in the workplace.
If you have dietary restrictions, such as if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may benefit from taking multivitamins to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. As many B vitamins come from animal products, research shows the vegetarians and vegans can be more prone to suffering from this specific deficiency. The same goes with calcium. Similarly, not only do pregnant women experience dietary restrictions, but they also need more nutrients than the average women, due to the little life developing inside them. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or local health practitioner about multivitamins.
In addition to boasting a wide selection of benefits, multivitamins have an array of pitfalls that you need to consider to ensure you are taking vitamins correctly. Being mindful of this will make sure you are not causing your mind and body more harm than good.
If you are taking too much of a vitamin for your body to handle, you may experience vitamin toxicity, which can upset your system. For instance, too much selenium can cause hair loss, fatigue and even nerve damage, while overdosing on vitamin C may result in diarrhoea and stomach cramps, as well as sickness. It’s important to actively monitor your diet and understand which specific vitamins you are lacking, so you only take supplements of the vitamins you truly need and never consume more than the recommended daily dosage.
Also, remember that vitamins can quickly become expensive if you are choosing premium brands. In any case, the best way to get your essential vitamins and minerals is through a healthy, balanced diet.
Many assume that taking a multivitamin is as easy as swallowing one down in the morning with a glass of water; however, that’s not always the case. It’s not uncommon for the body to struggle to absorb vitamins, meaning that you could end up wasting both your time and money taking a supplement that is not providing any benefit.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are a few simple steps you can take to help your body absorb multivitamins sufficiently. Firstly, choose multivitamins that disintegrate quickly. For vitamins to be absorbed properly it’s essential that they are released into the body quickly, so choose small powder-based tablets rather than the less soluble large, waxy kind. Even better, take powder-form multivitamins as opposed to tablets. If possible, It’s also important to avoid tablets containing preservatives and artificial colours, as they will slow down the speed of absorption.
You should understand the difference between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins B and C are water-soluble, which means you should take them with water. However, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, meaning they must be consumed with a small amount of fat to be absorbed by the body sufficiently. Consequently, you should take fat-soluble vitamins with or before a meal containing a little fat to reap the benefits.
To determine whether you need multivitamins, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have a vitamin deficiency?
Do I exercise every day?
Do I have a dairy intolerance?
Am I often unwell?
Am I pregnant?
Am I vegetarian or vegan?
If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions above, you may need multivitamins.
In most cases, it should be easy to get all your essential vitamins from a balanced diet. For a healthy, balanced diet, ensure that you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Also, base meals around carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potatoes; regular consume protein such as meat eggs, pulses and fish; consume dairy or dairy alternatives at least once a day, and try to choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats for all around good health. You should also aim to drink two litres of water each day, too.
If you’re unsure whether you will benefit from multivitamins, talk to your doctor.
If you’re considering taking multivitamins, before all else, always check whether improving your diet will allow you to meet your vitamin needs. If you do decide you need to take them, choose vitamins wisely and take water-soluble vitamins with water and fat-soluble vitamins with a small amount of food. Never take too much of one vitamin as it has the potential to lead to an array of various health concerns.
Multivitamins work, but only with your assistance. Keep in mind that a lot of the time, simply popping a multivitamin in the morning before work will not always be the miracle cure for your body’s health problems. Taking up a form of low-intensity exercise such as yoga can significantly improve your well-being and overall health, so consider picking up a comfy yoga mat and heading down to a local class.