January 04, 2018

Is a Multivitamin Right for You?

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

Here we are at the start of a new year already. The New Year’s resolutions will be made….again. 
Getting healthier is one of the top goals for many people. Some say they will eat better, exercise more or quit eating certain foods. Many people add vitamin supplements to their diet as a part of improving health.

When looking for supplements, people want an easy and cheap way to help themselves get better nutrition. Unfortunately, neither of those can be priorities when selecting supplements.

In my office, people often tell me they take a “one a day” supplement. They are easy and cheap, but they are not necessarily helpful. You are pretty much wasting your time and money and worse, getting no real benefit to your health. Sure they are advertised well, but let’s look at reality.

First, do you really think they can get essential amounts of nutrients into that large pill? Producers are amazing at compressing ingredients, but it’s just not possible to get it all in one pill.

Second, most don’t even bother including essential minerals and phytonutrients in amounts that really make a difference.

A multivitamin can be good, provided you choose it very carefully. You can’t shop at Walmart, CVS or discount stores for good vitamins. The junk vitamins likely contain partial vitamins, synthetic, isolated or fractionated pieces of “whole foods.” The major problems with these substances are the following: You are meant to consume whole, real forms of nutrients that work together for your health; your body only absorbs a percentage of what you give it; some vitamins give you massive amounts of the cheap synthetic vitamins and insufficient quantities of others; and lastly, there can be side effects to certain synthetic vitamins because it is not in a natural form your body recognizes.

While no amount of supplementation can cover for the lack of a healthy lifestyle, a good multivitamin can have benefits for optimal health. It can promote a strong immune system, and add trace minerals that are necessary but not found in foods you eat regularly. It can make up for a lack of food diversity during winter months and seasonal foods.

Choose from reputable company…not One-a -Day or Centrum. Dr. Mercola has some good vitamins and I’m sure there are others out there. Look at the labels and read the ingredients. Does it come from whole foods? Do the amounts of nutrients go beyond the RDA values? RDA values, in my opinion, are the lower end of what should be ingested daily.

Ideally, it is best to evaluate your own diet and lifestyle before looking for supplementation. If you are eating a wholesome diet composed of some raw fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats and raw dairy, and lots of good saturated fats, and then you have less need for a multivitamin. Unfortunately, most people eat nothing like this.

Just remember, multivitamins can be used to optimize your health; but they cannot be a replacement for bad habits and a poor diet.