Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like: multiple vitamins. They're supplements that contain several different vitamins in each one. They can also contain several minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids. And because there are multiple ingredients, there are low doses of each ingredient.
In fact, they are the most commonly used supplements in the world!
There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health. You need certain amounts of all of these nutrients for optimal health. In fact, nutrient deficiencies can impact reproduction, growth, and regulation of bodily processes.
Lots of people say that if you follow a "balanced diet," you'll get enough vitamins and minerals. I personally would love to believe it … but it's just not true. Many people are eating way too many processed food that is devoid of nutrition. There's a lot of research that shows many people don't get enough vitamins and minerals. Period.
In fact, the American Medical Association acknowledges the prudence of taking nutritional supplements, admitting that while “the clinical syndromes of vitamin deficiencies are unusual in Western societies, suboptimal vitamin status is not”.
So, how do you know which vitamins and minerals are in your multivitamin? Read the label, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If there are at least three different vitamins and minerals listed, it’s a multivitamin.
Do multivitamins work?
Multivitamins have been studied a lot.
The quality of the multivitamins studied has not been consistent. Some studies consider any supplements with at least three vitamins to be a "multivitamin." Most of the time, the multivitamins studied are ones that are very popular and are available everywhere.
So, what exactly do we know about the health benefits of multivitamins?
Here’s a quick summary of the science:
● Multivitamin use is linked with improved moods. Interestingly, if someone has nutrient deficiencies, they may have mood imbalances. So, if the multivitamin addresses an underlying deficiency, this makes sense.
● In terms of memory and cognitive performance (ability to think), there seems to be an improvement in people who regularly take multivitamins.
● In terms of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, there seems to be a slight improvement.
● In terms of heart disease, the results are mixed. There may be an increase, or a decrease, or no effect on risk of heart attacks.
● In terms of cancer, there is a slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.
● In terms of mortality (death), there doesn't seem to be a clear increase or decrease in mortality rates for people who take multivitamins.
All in all, multivitamins aren’t magical “health pills.” They’re not guaranteed to improve your mental or physical health, or help you live longer; but, they do have some health benefits.
Are multivitamins safe?
Just about every study that looked to see if multivitamins were health-promoting, also looked at side effects. They have consistently shown that multivitamins are very safe.
Now, I’m not talking about high-dose supplements. High doses of many nutrients can be harmful. But specifically for multivitamins where there are several nutrients included, all of which are in low doses. Those are safe.
Unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner advise otherwise, you want to stick to the dose on the label. That dose should be safe for most people.
However, there are many times when supplements (not just multivitamins) have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what's on the label; this may be different quantities of vitamins or minerals. Sometimes they contain ingredients that are not supposed to be in them at all (like toxins or prescription medicines).
This is why choosing supplements that are licensed, if applicable (like in Canada), and from reputable companies is so important.
Multivitamins are not a way to optimal health. There is limited evidence that they improve health for most people. But there are some benefits.
Since they contain low doses of many different nutrients, they're also safe (as long as you have a quality product). Of course, taking a multivitamin is not a way to improve a poor diet. I always recommend eating a balanced diet of whole foods. There is plenty of evidence that eating a diet of whole, unprocessed food prevents many diseases.
My personal favorite multivitamin trio supplements
When I discovered that doTERRA offered supplements I have to say I was a bit skeptical. As someone who is quite picky about the supplements that I recommend to clients - they need to have some research behind them, quality assurance, and third-party testing, etc. The thought of purchasing supplements from an essential oil company seemed a bit odd.
I mean I love their oils and they have incredible safety and quality standards but I mean supplements from a network marketing company? Boy was I wrong to be so skeptical.
After speaking with colleagues and hearing their stories as well as reviews from naturopaths and pharmacists I felt reasured that they were the real deal.
It turns out their supplements have some research backing them as well as some impressive testimonials.
Here's an abstract from their study:
This study was designed to quantitatively evaluate the health benefits of a multivitamin, multimineral, herbal, essential oil-infused supplement using serum biomarkers. We also qualitatively evaluated the health effects of this supplement using a survey. Sixteen participants were recruited to take the supplement as directed for two months. The levels of the following serum components were measured in the participants: total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein(a), LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, total/HDL cholesterol ratio, ferritin, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, insulin, testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, free androgen index, red blood cell magnesium, homocysteine, coenzyme Q10, lipid peroxides, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, cardiovascular index, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), arachidonic acid (AA), and the AA/EPA ratio. The following markers were significantly improved (p <.05) after two months of supplementation: HDL cholesterol, LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, fasting insulin, homocysteine, serum vitamin E, EPA, and the AA/EPA ratio. These findings demonstrate that the supplementation had significant positive effects on biochemical indicators of cardiovascular health, antioxidant status, inflammation, and blood glucose regulation.
All of the outcomes in the 16-item qualitative survey were improved after two months of supplementation. Twelve of these outcomes were significantly improved. The participants reported more mental clarity, energy, motivation, control, balance, and happiness while reporting less back pain, muscle pain, cold and flu incidence, anxiety, frustration, and irritation at the end of the two-month supplementation period. Although definite clinical efficacy remains elusive, these results suggest that the supplement may provide a broad range of health benefits for users in a short period.
Here's why I love them
They check all of the boxes:
A source of digestive enzymes
Helps support normal function of the thyroid gland
Helps to maintain normal blood glucose and electrolyte levels
Supports healthy digestion with their tummy tamer blend of essential oils
Promotes healthy immune and cognitive function
Supports energy metabolism and production
Anti-inflammatory and cellular protective
Includes a whole-food botanical blend of kale, dandelion, parsley, kelp, broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, and spinach
That's a lot of things covered in a convenient pack of 3 making them a great start and addition to any new wellness regimen without the overwhelm. Add in their digestive enzyme formula and probiotic (US warehouse) and you'll be well on your way to making massive strides in your health and vitality.