Supplements

Should I Take a Multivitamin? Here’s How to Tell

Have you ever questioned whether or not your multivitamin is giving you the desired benefit you are looking for? We’re sharing answers to your questions and what you should know about daily multivitamins. 

Multivitamins are one of the most talked-about, and sometimes even controversial supplements on the market. While some swear by their daily multi, others question whether or not it’s doing anything and find it hard to see and feel results. 

Have you ever questioned whether or not your multivitamin is giving you the desired benefit you are looking for? Ahead, we’re sharing answers to your questions and what you should know about daily multivitamins. 

Plus, why some may choose to take a multi, while others may consider a more tailored and individualized supplement approach. 

Read on to determine which is best for you, and your body’s nutritional needs. 

Multivitamin Pros and Cons

While a food first approach should take priority, relying on a daily multivitamin to fill nutritional gaps is something many people choose for a few reasons. 

Pros:

#1 Convenience

With multivitamins, you may only have to take one tablet per day. This can make it easy to remember and easy to implement into a regular routine. 

#2 Simple to Introduce

A daily multivitamin may also be a great starting point if you are new to taking supplements. Taking a one tablet per day multi can help establish a good regimen, making it easier to incorporate other more tailored and specific nutrients in the future. 

#3 Less Expensive

While taking a tailored approach to supplementation may work for some, all of those vitamins and minerals can add up in cost. A daily multivitamin may be a less expensive option. 

#4 Age Specified

Some multivitamins are also specific to different age groups and even genders, making it easy to select one that may work best for you and your supplement needs. 

#5 A Well Rounded Approach to Bridging Nutritional Gaps

Taking a daily multivitamin is good insurance that you are giving your body the vitamins and minerals you may not be getting from diet alone. This is important because research suggests that soil depletion has caused the quality of our food to decline. (1) 

Pair soil depletion with that with the fact that there are a handful of nutrients that, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are simply not being consumed enough. These nutrients include potassium, magnesium, calcium, choline, vitamin A, C, D, E, and iron for women between the ages of 19-50. (2) A good multivitamin often contains these basic vitamins and minerals. 

Cons:

#1 Artificial Fillers

Generic multivitamins may contain artificial fillers or even allergens like corn, gluten, soy, and dairy.

#2 Lesser Value

Some multivitamin supplements don’t contain vitamins in their most bioavailable and active forms, so they may not be giving you the greatest value.

#3 Not Specific to Your Needs

They may contain way more of a certain vitamin than what your individual body actually needs, and high doses could cause your body to be out of balance.

#4 Upset stomach

Many people experience an upset stomach after taking their daily multi. This may be a number of reasons, but it could potentially be the blend of the vitamins inside. In addition, some vitamins may need to be taken with meals, while others just with water. With a multi, it can be challenging to differentiate between all the minerals packed inside. 

Are There Additional Benefits to Targeted Supplements?

Although multivitamins are quite popular, there is another approach to getting supplemental nutrition — choosing single supplements that target specific needs.

Here’s a closer look at some examples of where a specific supplement vs. a multivitamin may be more appropriate. 

#1 For Some, An Individualized Approach May Work Best 

Just like diet is so individualized, the same goes for supplementation. We all require something unique, and while one person may need more vitamin D, someone else may require more iron. With a generalized multivitamin, there is a less tailored approach to everyone’s unique needs. 

#2 Too Much of a Good Thing or Not Enough of What The Body Needs

Many multivitamins carry a handful of nutrients that our bodies may or may not need, which can make it difficult to see the results you are looking for. With targeted supplementation, you can decide what to take, which can make choosing the appropriate dose for your individualized needs much easier. 

Tailored supplementation can also be helpful when working alongside your healthcare provider in finding the right dose of a specific supplement. This is common with vitamin D, since nearly one billion people worldwide aren’t getting enough of this sunshine vitamin. (3) 

Individualized supplementation is also helpful in those who consume a vegan or vegetarian diet who may need a more tailored approach, like supplementing with B12. 

#3 Probiotics

Probiotics are not commonly found in multivitamins, but they come with plenty of benefits, giving us reason to consider specific supplementation. Time and time again, studies suggest that probiotics may help promote a healthy gut and aid digestion. Plus, they serve as a great way to help support gut bacteria balance. This is important because gut bacteria plays a role in supporting digestion and synthesizing other vitamins in the body. (4)  

#4 Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

These are essential fatty acids, meaning that the body cannot synthesize them itself — we rely on food sources or supplementation. The problem with multivitamins is that not all of them contain omega-3 fatty acids, and if they do, you have to be very mindful of the source. When you take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, it gives you greater power of choosing the highest quality and most effective option available. One of the best sources of omega-3s is krill oil. It’s a great source of both EPA and DHA, and studies suggest it may even help support interstitial health. (5) 

Choosing the Right Option for You

No matter what route you decide to go, there are a handful of things to keep in mind when selecting the best supplement for you. 

These include:

  • Avoid supplements with artificial ingredients, fillers, or common allergens like gluten, corn, soy, and dairy. 
  • Invest in high-quality supplements, from high-quality brands that are transparent about their ingredients and compliant with safety and quality regulations. 
  • Consider whether or not a specific vitamin is known to cause digestive upset. If you tend to get an upset stomach after taking certain vitamins and minerals, deciding whether or not a vitamin needs to be taken with or without food may be important for you. The takeaway here is to be sure to read the label first! 

Final Thoughts

As with things like diet and exercise, the supplements you take require an individualized approach to what’s going to work best for you — there is truly no one size fits all. And, while a daily multivitamin is something that may work best for some, a tailored approach may be more beneficial for others. 

By working alongside your healthcare provider and determining your own unique nutrition needs, you can discover which option may work best for you in helping support your overall health. 

Quick Disclaimer

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Sources 

  1. Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious? (2011). Scientific America. 


  1. A Closer Look at Current Intakes and Recommendation Shifts. Health.gov. 


  1. Naeem Z. Vitamin d deficiency- an ignored epidemic. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2010;4(1):V-VI.


  1. Probiotics. (N.D.). Cleveland Clinic. 


  1. Costanzo M, Cesi V, Prete E, et al. Krill oil reduces intestinal inflammation by improving epithelial integrity and impairing adherent-invasive Escherichia coli pathogenicity. Dig Liver Dis. 2016;48(1):34-42. doi:10.1016/j.dld.2015.09.012 


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