Do I Need To Take A Multivitamin?

       It seems like everywhere you turn today there are advertisements or people talking about different supplements they are taking for their health. But with all this hype, it leaves some people questioning if taking a daily multivitamin is really necessary.

Vitamin Aisle
Vitamin aisle at a local store

     In an ideal world the answer would be no you do not need to take a multivitamin. It is possible to get all the nutrients you need from food. However, many people do not eat well balanced diets that would provide all the nutrients they need on a daily basis. Fortified food, such as cereal, helps many Americans get nutrients they otherwise would not get. Many times that still is not enough.

     And I get it. It is hard to make sure we eat well every single day. In fact, I actually take a prenatal multivitamin and fish oil supplement daily just to make sure I get the nutrients my body needs.

Below are some questions to ask yourself when considering whether you should be taking a multivitamin daily. 

Disclaimer: As always, remember to check with your own personal primary care doctor or dietitian before starting any new supplements.

1. Do you eat 2 cups of fruit every single day?

This is the recommended amount for adults. Please click here for reference.

2. Do you eat 2-3 cups of vegetables every single day?

This is the recommended amount for adults. Please click here for reference.

3. Do you eat a variety of fruits & vegetables?

Unfortunately, if you are only eating bananas and potatoes every single day and never mixing it up then you are unlikely to get all the nutrients you need. Different fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients. Have you ever heard the expression “eat the rainbow”? If you eat all the different colors of fruits and vegetables in a week then you are getting a fairly large variety in your diet.

4. Do you eat 3 cups/servings of dairy or dairy substitute?

This is the recommended amount for adults. Please click here for reference.

5. Do you follow any special diet ( such as dairy free or vegan)?

Any diet that eliminates whole food groups puts you at a higher risk of not getting all the nutrients you need.

6. Do you spend much time outside?

Many Americans today are low on vitamin D. Your body can synthesize vitamin D from the sunlight but many people today do not spend as much time outside in the sun. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels then ask your doctor about getting it checked during your yearly physical examination.

7. Do you have any underlying health conditions that cause you to need more of a certain nutrient?

Some people may have underlying issues that cause you to need extra supplementation of certain vitamins/minerals. 

8. Are you a woman of child bearing age?

Since most women do not find out they are pregnant for at least 4 weeks after they conceive, it is recommended that all women of child bearing age take a multivitamin with folic acid daily. Folic acid is essential during those first 8 weeks of development that the baby goes through.

9. Have you had bariatric surgery?

It is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin for life following any bariatric surgery procedure.

10. Have you been diagnosed with an eating disorder?

If so, please discuss supplements in more detail with your doctor and dietitian. You may need more specific recommendations. 

Hopefully this has helped you to make a decision on if taking a multivitamin is right for you. 

Questions? Comments? Let me know below!

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