Why you should consider taking a high-quality multivitamin
Multivitamin supplementation can represent an effective, safe, and affordable means of filling micronutrient gaps and is an easy tool for nutritionists when looking to boost micronutrient status.
By Neil Bridgeman
Aug 3, 2022 • 5 min read
Our bodies and the way they function optimally are the direct result of thousands of biochemical reactions that fire every second, every minute, every hour, every day. These reactions are reliant on the intake of minerals and vitamins in order to work efficiently and effectively – collectively known as our micronutrient status.
Now in an ideal world, we would be sourcing the intake of our vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. However, our busy lives, poorer diets, processed foods, declining soil quality and subsequent food nutrient density are making it harder and harder to meet our daily micronutrient needs from food alone. Generally, in developed countries, we are veering toward being overfed and undernourished from the food we eat. It’s a sad state of affairs, but there are options to counteract this.
“Generally, in developed countries, we are veering toward being overfed and undernourished from the food we eat”
More than half of the US population consume less than the daily recommended intake of magnesium – a vital mineral essential for the function of over 300 enzymes in the human body. Vitamin D status is now considered below threshold in 30-40% of the UK population during winter and approximately 13% in summer. Vitamin D is key for modulating our immune system and bone formation. Zinc deficiency is estimated to impact approximately 17-18% of the world’s population – it is a trace element that we need for DNA replication and protein formation, skin barrier health as well as supercharging our immune system to fight infections.
Recent randomised controlled studies indicate that a 12-week period of multivitamin supplementation resulted in reduced severity and duration of self-reported illness, upregulation of immune function as well as improvements to overall micronutrient status versus placebo. Observational trials in women who took multivitamins indicated a 24% lower risk for heart disease. In a cross-sectional study, multivitamin users self-reported 30% better overall health than non-users. Further, consumption of multivitamins has been shown to exert a positive effect on increasing the quality of life of the elderly alongside long-term diet improvements.
“In a cross-sectional study, multivitamin users self-reported 30% better overall health than non-users”
Multivitamin supplementation can represent an effective, safe, and affordable means of filling micronutrient gaps and is an easy tool for nutritionists when looking to boost micronutrient status in our clients, particularly at the early stage working together.
So it goes without saying that the humble multivitamin can play a powerful support role in daily life when it comes to meeting our micronutrient needs and fast-tracking our ability to function optimally. This is where some due diligence comes into play as there are a multitude of multivitamins on the market ranging from the very low quality to over-priced and over-hyped.
Ok then, here are a few pointers on what to look out for when shopping around for a decent multivitamin:
- You get what you pay for – if it’s cheap, expect cheap ingredients, lower levels of micronutrients and low bioavailability
- Read the ingredient list – look out for any use of binders, fillers, preservatives, colourings and flavourings e.g. maltodextrin, corn starch, ascorbic acid
- Watch out for poorly absorbed forms of minerals like:
- Calcium carbonate
- Magnesium oxide
- Ferrous sulphate
- Zinc oxide
- Aim for more bioavailable and high quality forms of micronutrients such as:
- Methyl forms of folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) – “methylfolate” and “methylcobalamin”
- Chelated forms of minerals often ending in “picolinate”, “glycinate”, “malate”, “citrate”
- B6 as pyridoxal 5-phosphate P5-P form
- Vitamin D3 in its active form as cholecalciferol
- Ester-C or liposomal forms of vitamin C
“You get what you pay for – if it’s cheap, expect cheap ingredients, lower levels of micronutrients and poor bioavailability”
Some reputable brands to look out for:
Of course, any use of supplementation should be done in conjunction with advice from your GP and qualified health professional. It should be noted that many supplements interact with prescription medications as well as other forms of supplements and foods. Play it safe, be armed with the latest information and seek advice where appropriate.
Abolfathi, M. Pasdar, Y. Kheiri, M. et al. (2021) ‘The effect of consuming multivitamin/mineral supplements on elderly quality of life: Based on randomized control trial’ Journal of Education & Health Promotion, 10 (63) https://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp
Angelo, G. Drake, V. & Frei, B. (2015) ‘Efficacy of Multivitamin/mineral Supplementation to Reduce Chronic Disease Risk: A Critical Review of the Evidence from Observational Studies and Randomized Controlled Trials’ Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55 (14), pp. 1968–1991 https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2014.912199
Calame, W. Street, L. & Hulshof, T. (2020) ‘Vitamin d serum levels in the uk population, including a mathematical approach to evaluate the impact of vitamin d fortified ready-to-eat breakfast cereals: Application of the ndns database’ Nutrients, 12 (6), pp. 1–14 https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061868
DiNicolantonio, J. O’Keefe, J. & Wilson, W. (2018) ‘Subclinical magnesium deficiency: A principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis’ Open Heart, 5 (1) https://doi.org/10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668
Fantacone, M. Lowry, M. Uesugi, S. et al. (2020) ‘The effect of a multivitamin and mineral supplement on immune function in healthy older adults: A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial’ Nutrients, 12 (8), pp. 1–15 https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082447
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis. It is not intended as a substitute for advice from your GP or other qualified health practitioner.