Investigating The Value Of Taking A Multivitamin!

Posted on July 17th, 2013 at 8:50 pm by

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If you are thinking about taking a multivitamin, ironically, you are probably in the category of persons who are less in need of a supplement than others.  That is not to say that adding a multivitamin to your diet would be a bad idea – of course not.  Studies have found, however, that people who take multivitamins are also more likely to have a higher variety of macronutrients in their diet.

B vitamin supplement tabletsSome people are told by their doctor that a multivitamin would be a good idea.  It may not have occurred to them before and they probably do not have a diet that would match the profile of a self-prescribed vitamin taker.  What that really means is – do what your doctor says and start taking one, but also start to increase the variety of foods that you eat in addition to start looking for ways to add more nutrients to your meals.  Adding a variety of seeds, nuts, and cold pressed oils is one way to increase the diversity of your diet; trying new types of fruit and vegetables is another.

Who takes vitamins?

Supplementation with vitamins began in the USA in the 1940s and today, it is a big business. Approximately 30 percent of Americans, and perhaps a higher number of Australians take some kind of supplement.  From the age of 14 and upwards, women are the more likely of the genders to take a multivitamin, and the children of these women (including the boys) are also more likely to take a supplement.  Also, men and women over the age of 50 years are more likely to be taking some kind of supplement than any other age range.

What to look for in a vitamin supplement

Not all multivitamins are the same.  There are many different formulations and some have higher doses of certain ingredients than others.  There is a trend at the moment to include herbs as well as vitamins and minerals in a complex multi.  Chinese herbs are also being included in some formulations to help people get the best of both the East and West.

The variety of multivitamins available today makes it difficult for researchers to give blanket statements as to their benefits.  They are not comparing like to like.  It is also important to distinguish why people are taking the supplement.  The primary reasons can be grouped into two broad categories: to increase nutrient intake or to prevent chronic disease.  Some longitudinal studies show that people who take a multivitamin long term have an eight percent lower chance of developing cancer, except prostate cancer.  There is no change, however, in risk factors for cardiovascular related complications, heart attacks or strokes among regular users of multivitamins.

The bottom line

The bottom line is pretty straightforward: taking a vitamin or improving your diet will improve your quality of life.  This may result in a decreased risk of some diseases and it may or may not improve lifespan.  What it could nevertheless do is to help you make the most of the time you do have, improve energy, happiness levels, as well as mental clarity depending on the type of supplements you take.

About the Author

Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition.  She is also into yoga and pilates.

Image thanks to Ragesoss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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