Dr Julie Durnan

Do You Really Need a Multivitamin?

Confused womanA common question I get from patients at the clinic is: Should I take a one-a-day multivitamin? This is a loaded question. In short, no.

And here’s the crazy truth:

First of all, with a one-a-day product, you are pretty much wasting your time. No single tablet or capsule can contain enough vitamins or minerals to really make a difference. Often these products contain little research backing and their huge health claims far outweigh their actual benefit.

These poor quality vitamins also rarely contain the highly absorbed forms of vitamins and minerals that are best used by our bodies. It is cheaper and easier for the producers of many popular vitamin products to include subpar forms of vitamins. And so they do. The result is little nutritional gain and often side effects such as bloating, cramping, nausea, and gas.

A good quality professional-grade multi-vitamin will contain well-absorbed high quality ingredients, few to no binding chemicals and additives, go well beyond the bare minimum dietary requirements (Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA), include essential minerals, and you guessed it – needs to be taken more than once a day.

A good quality multi requires that you take it two to three times daily.  Although this may sound like a lot, it’s important to note that with vitamins and minerals, timing is everything. A multi is meant to complement your diet, so it only makes sense that it’s to be taken with meals.

The term, Vitaminsurance, describes my point perfectly. This cutesy descriptor was coined by food writer, Gyorgy Scrinis and implies that multivitamins do not make up for a poor diet, but simply insure against inadvertent nutrient deficiencies due to seasonal or other variations in diet. And this is what I’m talking about.

Supplemental vitamins should not replace healthy eating, but should instead serve as an insurance policy, for your health, when diet is less than optimal.

So when should you take your multi? Yup, with meals. It’s best to consume them along with your healthy, complete meals. Yes, that means three times daily.  If you can only muster the energy (and remember!) to take your multi twice daily, that’s still great too.

There has been a lot of hype in the news about multivitamins leading to more health concerns than they’re worth. The trouble with some of the bigger research studies out there is that many of the people in the studies may have already been sick and that many different brands (some of poorer quality) may have been used. What is clear from these studies is that diet and lifestyle are the most important things to optimize to create your best health. Disease protection is a lifelong endeavor that needs to be started early on.

I have seen huge shifts in health when people start to take a multivitamin. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs a multivitamin, but when it’s indicated, it can be  a beautiful thing.

So you’re probably wondering: Do I need a multi?

You can ask yourself three questions to know if a multivitamin is right for you:

1)   Do you slip from your optimal healthy diet more than 10% of the time?
2)   Are you unaware of where some of your food is produced?
3)   Do you suffer from digestive concerns?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, then yes, a multi might be right for you. As with any health supplement or herbal product, please talk to your naturopathic physician about the correct product and proper dosage for your individual health condition and health history.

Are you going to complement your healthy diet with a multi? Please let me know in the comments below!

Dr Julie Signature BLACK



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