There’s so much contradictory information about the value of taking versus not taking vitamins that it can be difficult to sort through it all and decide once and for all whether you should take anything—and if so, what you should take! Here are some recommendations about whether multivitamins are right for you.
The Scoop on Multivitamins
Should you take a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement? If you eat a balanced, healthful diet, chances are that you don’t need a multivitamin. If you’re eating at least 1500 calories a day, and your diet is rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and protein, you are probably already reaching your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for your vitamin and mineral intake. However, if you don’t tend to eat a lot of vegetables, or if you tend to eat the same foods over and over again, you might be falling short of certain nutrients, in which case taking a multivitamin might be helpful. However, it’s always best to eat a healthful diet instead—research shows that eating too much of a mineral or vitamin is not harmful to humans, while taking too much of something in vitamin form can sometimes be harmful.
If you do want take a multivitamin, which one should you choose? There are so many brands and types out there that it can be difficult to decide. The vitamins that are best absorbed are those that are food-based, meaning they don’t just contain isolated vitamins and minerals but actually contain food and plant extracts to make an added bonus, because your body will be better able to both take what it needs and dispose of what it doesn’t need. I would recommend trying one of these: New Chapter Every Man’s/Woman’s Daily, Nature’s Plus: Source of Life with Whole Food, MegaFood One Daily, and Dr. Mercola Whole Food Multivitamin Plus. All of them contain whole foods and excellent proportions of the different vitamins and minerals.
So, Who Should Take a Multivitamin?
Most research suggests that individuals who are not eating a variety of foods (including lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fish, meat, and dairy) should take a multivitamin. If you decide to take one, remember that your best option is to go with a whole food supplement.
Think you might be deficient in individual vitamins? Read more about specific vitamin supplements here.