If you are conscious of your health, you might be wondering whether or not you need to invest in a daily multivitamin. The truth is that many Americans fall into the trap of believing that a multivitamin can prevent disease and provide major nutritional and health benefits, when in actuality, multivitamins are just a good way to fill in holes in your diet. In fact, recent studies have shown that the benefits of multivitamin are limited, and much of the data is inconclusive.
Here are some things to consider if you are wondering whether or not you should take a multivitamin:
- Is there a possibility that you could become pregnant? If so, a multivitamin that includes folic acid is a wise choice. This nutrient is important when it comes to preventing neural tube defects, and you need a supply of it in the very early stages of pregnancy—often before you even know that you are pregnant. Taking a multivitamin as a safeguard for a potential pregnancy could be beneficial.
- Are you currently pregnant or breastfeeding? Your doctor can give you specific instructions about what you need for your situation, but in general, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need extra vitamins and minerals to meet the needs of the baby.
- Do you follow a restrictive diet? If your diet is very restrictive, you may want to consider taking a multivitamin. For example, if you follow a vegan diet, you might be able to benefit from a multivitamin containing calcium, zinc, and iron.
- Are you over 60 years of age? It can be harder to get the nutrients that you need as you get older. A multivitamin can provide your body with extra magnesium and vitamin D, which is great for bone health.
Many patients make the mistake of assuming too much of their multivitamins. It’s important to keep in mind that taking a multivitamin is not an excuse for a poor diet. You still need to consume a balanced diet containing whole grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables. While a multivitamin can supplement some needs, it does not take a place of healthy food.
You should also ask your doctor about your multivitamin brand and dosage choice to make sure that it is the right one for you. Taking too much of some nutrients, such as iron, can be toxic and dangerous.