One of the most common questions I get as a trainer is, "Do I really need a multivitamin?" It seems that everyone has a different opinion on whether or not taking a multivitamin is a good idea.
In an ideal world, we would all eat healthy, nutritious foods at every meal and snack. Our diets would be perfectly balanced, with the proper mix of macronutrients—protein, carbs, and fat—and micronutrients, namely vitamins and minerals. We would all have at least nine servings of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every day, at least three servings of low-fat dairy foods, and a variety of lean protein sources, in addition to sufficient amounts of healthy fats. And at least one fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow would be consumed, every day. In addition, our digestive tracts would be perfectly attuned to absorb each and every nutrient thoroughly.
Um - YEAH, right.
It’s a great thing to shoot for, but the real world does not make all of the above easy. Therefore, a multivitamin makes a lot of sense for most people.
What can a multivitamin do?
It can fill in the gaps in a multitude of vitamins, minerals and other substances that can be a struggle to obtain from food on a daily basis, even with a balanced diet.
What can a multivitamin NOT do?
Multivitamins almost never contain nutrients such as proteins or essential fatty acids—normally those supplements need to be consumed outside a multivitamin. Multivitamins also tend to not have much calcium or potassium included due to the bulkiness of those nutrients, so if those are a concern you may need an additional source. Most multivitamins do not contain iron, so if you are a woman of iron bearing age and/or a vegetarian you may need to look hard for one that contains iron, or take iron on the side.
Not all multivitamins are of high quality. The cheapest ones are not made of highly absorbable ingredients. You tend to get what you pay for with multivitamins.
I am a huge fan of food based multivitamins, such as this one: