Depending on your particular stage of life and health condition, there are several reasons you may need a multivitamin. Although research does not tend to support that a multivitamin can protect you from chronic disease, there are particular times in your life that a multivitamin can do more good than harm. In my eyes, the invention of the multivitamin was one of the best and equally one of the worst inventions in the world because of the misconception that it can replace healthy eating. A multivitamin should be treated like a good insurance card - hopefully you won't need it (because your diet is already rich in vitamins and minerals), but when you do (you had a bad day when it comes to healthy eating), it's there for you. I always recommend getting your nutrients through food first, but sometimes taking a multivitamin is a safe buffer. When trying to decide whether or not you need to take a multivitamin, be sure to talk to your doctor first. However, here are 7 reasons you may need a multivitamin!
1. Your MD Recommends It
Whatever your condition, one of the first reasons you may need a multivitamin is if your doctor recommends it. Although you should always do your own research too, your MD has studied the human body extensively and can make recommendations based on your particular health conditions. Your doctor can also tell you if any vitamins or minerals will interact with any of the prescriptions you might be taking. It is important to be honest with your doctor so that he or she can provide the best care and make the best recommendations.
2. You Have a Nutritional Deficiency
If you have a nutritional deficiency defined by your doctor, then taking a multivitamin might help improve your health. While multivitamins cannot prevent disease in the same way that healthy food can, it can prevent a nutritional deficiency from developing. As I mentioned above, a multivitamin should be used like a good insurance card -hopefully you won't need it but if you slip up one day, it is there for your protection!
3. You Follow a Strict Diet
If you follow a very strict diet or cut an entire food group out of your diet, then you might need a multivitamin in order to prevent any deficiencies. Without proper education, strict diets can be void of very crucial vitamins and minerals without you even knowing it. For example, a vegan diet can be lacking in iron, zinc and B vitamins. However, if you know this and which foods contain these nutrients, you can easily have a thriving diet without a multivitamin. However, if you do not, you could easily become nutrient deficient rather quickly.
4. You Have a Poor Appetite or Chewing
If you have a poor appetite and are not eating enough food, while a multivitamin certainly will not provide all of the vitamins and minerals that you need, it can certainly reduce your risk of developing a nutritional deficiency. Poor chewing or pain in your mouth can also cause an inadequate intake of crucial vitamins and minerals. If you find that you are not able to eat very much, first talk to your doctor about ways to fix the underlying condition. During this time, a multivitamin can help make up for this lack of adequate nutrition, but remember it cannot provide you with everything that actual food can.
5. You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
When you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you are supplying nutrients for not only one body but two bodies! Because of this, your nutrition needs are increased, especially for calcium, folic acid and iron, making a multivitamin necessary during this time. It is also beneficial to take a multivitamin if you are of child baring age to insure that you are getting enough folate, a B vitamin that can prevent neural tube defects which can develop in a fetus long before you even know that you are pregnant!
6. You Are 50 or Older (especially beyond 65)
As you age, your body loses its ability to absorb particular nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D as readily. Because of this, a multivitamin can be helpful in preventing a nutritional deficiency. Certain medications can also cause poor intake, digestion and absorption, making it even more difficult to prevent a nutritional deficiency. Often as people age, their appetite, taste and smell preferences tend to decrease as well, whether it be to decreased energy output, poor detention, eating alone, depression or any other factor which can cause poor nutritional intake as well.
7. You Drink Alcohol Frequently
People that consume alcohol frequently (more than one drink daily for women and more than two drinks daily for men) should definitely discuss taking a multivitamin with their MD. Long-term excessive intake of alcohol can impair your body’s ability to digest and absorb several key vitamins and minerals like thiamin, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, B12, zinc and magnesium. Often heavy drinkers tend to drink their calories instead of eating an adequate diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and can easily become deficient in essential nutrients.
While the best way to get the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay strong and healthy is through a well-balanced diet, as you can see there are many different populations that might benefit from a high quality multivitamin. You should always aim to meet your nutritional needs through food, but sometimes a multivitamin can make up for any lack. Do you take a multivitamin or do you ensure that you meet your nutritional requirements through whole foods? If so, how do you do this?