Multivitamin Benefits

May 16, 2022 , Vitamins & Supplements

Multivitamin Benefits

Quick Health Scoop

  • To function properly, your body requires 13 essential vitamins and at least 13 essential minerals—all of which play a variety of critical roles in the body.
  • For a variety of reasons, many people may not be getting all the essential nutrients they need through food.
  • An affordable daily multivitamin supplement helps fill nutritional gaps and supports overall health.
  • Multivitamins benefits include supporting a healthy immune system, maintaining healthy eyes and vision, supporting heart health, and supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Did you know that U.S. children and adults have been taking dietary supplements since the 1940s?[1] Since then, multivitamin use has been in on the rise. Today, roughly one-third of all adults in the United States and one-quarter of children and teens take a multivitamin. [1]

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you strive to get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs through nutritious food. Beyond vitamins and minerals, whole foods also provide other micronutrients (such as beta-carotene, fiber, and lycopene) important to good health. This means eating a healthy diet packed with a wide variety of good-for-you foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy.

However, the reality is that many people fall short of getting the nutrients they need for a variety of reasons. That might explain why many people turn to multivitamin supplements to fill in the nutritional gaps. But what is a multivitamin—and is it good to take one every day? What happens to your body when you take multivitamins?

Read on to learn more about multivitamin benefits and risks.

Do I Need a Multivitamin?

Many Americans who follow a Western diet (typically high in saturated fats, sugar, and salt),  may be missing out on the good stuff (vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber) which may lead to health concerns. [2]

So, maybe your diet isn’t quite up to par, despite your best efforts. Other people might want to eat better but can’t afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables with rising food prices. Or maybe you’re in a certain group of people who may face an increased risk of inadequate micronutrient intake or increased needs, including: [2,4,5]

  • People with a poor diet
  • People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Women of childbearing age
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Infants (especially breastfed babies), children, and teens
  • People who consume less than 1,200 calories per day 
  • Adults older than 50
  • Smokers
  • People with darker colored skin who may have lower Vitamin D levels
  • People with certain health issues that impair digestion, absorption, or use of nutrients
  • People who take certain medications

Your best bet? Talk to your primary healthcare provider or a registered dietitian nutritionist, who can determine any vitamin shortfalls in one’s diet (typically with a blood test to determine any potential nutrient deficiencies) and whether or not the benefits of taking multivitamins would help you maintain good health.

Is It Good To Take A Multivitamin Every Day?

Yes, it’s good to take a multivitamin supplement every day if your diet is lacking in key nutrients and you need help. You know yourself best, so start by assessing your diet, your health, and your lifestyle. If you know you’re not eating a certain food group at all (think seafood or whole grains), or you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day, a multivitamin makes sense to cover nutritional gaps. Ditto if you’re busy and rely on too many processed, packaged convenience foods and on-the-go fast-food choices. And if you’re in one of those groups above who are at risk of running low in some nutrients, multivitamin supplementation may help provide assurance that you’re meeting your daily nutrient requirements.

If you're thinking about taking dietary supplements, a daily multivitamin is a great choice. Why? Because most multivitamins usually provide close to the Recommended Daily Allowance the body needs of each individual vitamin. [5] One of the benefits of taking multivitamins is taking just one supplement (instead of different vitamins that are nutrient-specific) to meet your nutritional needs.

While multivitamins don’t replace healthy habits—such as exercising and eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods—they may help fill in the nutritional gaps. Remember, your body needs 13 essential vitamins (categorized as fat-soluble and water-soluble) and at least 15 minerals essential to your health, including the following [6,7]

Fat-soluble vitamins:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Water-soluble vitamins:

  • B Vitamin family:
    • Vitamin B1: Thiamin
    • Vitamin B2: Riboflavin
    • Vitamin B3: Niacin
    • Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid
    • Vitamin B6: Pyridoxal/pyridoxine
    • Vitamin B7: Biotin
    • Vitamin B9: Folate/folic acid
    • Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
  • Vitamin C

Essential Minerals (Major and Trace Minerals):

  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Sulfur
  • Zinc

All of these nutrients play vital (but different) roles in the body to support good health. Vitamins and minerals help convert food into energy, provide antioxidant support, and support strong bones, vision, and immune health. [7]

Of course, not everyone’s nutritional needs are the same—and your nutritional needs change throughout your life. For instance, children’s multivitamin gummy will contain different amounts of nutrients than a multivitamin tablet for a man over 50 years old. Choose a daily multivitamin that meets your specific needs. Read the label to ensure the supplement meets your needs and also look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval, which ensures the supplement contains quality ingredients and amounts of that ingredient the label indicates. [3]

What Happens to Your Body When You Start Taking Vitamins?

Multivitamins provide a simple, inexpensive, and safe way to help fill nutritional gaps and support micronutrient status. [4]

Common supplements that may benefit your health include: [8,9]

  • Vitamin A: supports healthy vision
  • Vitamin B: supports healthy brain function, helps metabolize carbs, proteins, and fats. supports healthy nerve and blood cells
  • Vitamin C: supports healthy immune system, supports strong teeth and bones, healthy tissue, and skin
  • Vitamin D: supports strong bones and healthy nervous system functions to regulate immune cell functions
  • Vitamin E: supports heart health
  • Vitamin K: maintains strong bones, supports heart health
  • Calcium: supports strong teeth and bones, supports muscle function
  • Iron: supports healthy immune system, carries oxygen in blood
  • Zinc: supports healthy immune system and healthy skin, brain health, supports healthy vision
  • Folic acid: adequate folic acid in healthful diets may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a neural tube defect
  • Fish oil: supports heart health

 Because of the many vital roles these key nutrients play in your well-being, one of the primary multivitamin benefits is that it packs these key nutrients into one convenient tablet, gummy, capsule, or softgel. Multivitamins may help fill nutritional gaps and can be a foundation for a supplement regiment.

For many people, a dietary supplement may help fill in the nutrient gaps in an affordable way, since taking a daily multivitamin costs less than 50 cents a day. [10]

Are There Risks With Taking Multivitamins?

Generally speaking, health experts consider multivitamins safe. However, if you take multivitamins and also eat fortified foods and drinks (such as fortified breakfast cereals or Vitamin-D enrich milk)—or if you take additional dietary supplements—you need to be mindful of your vitamin or mineral intake.[1] Very large doses of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful, so speak with your primary care provider to develop a regiment right for your lifestyle.[11] Keep in mind that the body does not store water-soluble vitamins and any excess leaves the body through the urine. [11] The body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins slowly and they may be stored.[11]

 

Bottom Line

Your body needs 13 essential vitamins and at least 15 essential minerals. These nutrients play vital roles in the body—ranging from reproduction to maintenance to growth—to support good health. Getting these nutrients through healthy food is always the best choice. But for various reasons, many people may not get all the vitamins and minerals they need through food. That’s why taking a daily multivitamin can make sense, filling in any nutritional gaps and providing some additional health protection in an affordable way.

 

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


References 

  1. National Institutes of Health. “Multivitamin/mineral Supplements: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.” February 8, 2022. Accessed on: April 8, 2022. 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/#en1
  1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Should I Take a Daily multivitamin?” 2022. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/
  1. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. “Multivitamin/mineral Supplement” August 2011. Accessed on: April 12, 2022. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/multivitamin-mineral-supplements
  1. Mayo Clinic. If You Choose to Take Vitamins as Supplements, Stick to the RDA.” April 11, 2011. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/if-you-choose-to-take-vitamins-as-supplements-stick-to-the-rda
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Vitamins and Mineral” February 2018. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals
  1. “Vitamins and Minerals: Are You Getting What You Need?” Adapted from Making Sense of Vitamins and Minerals, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publishing. 2019. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins-and-minerals.htm
  1. Penn Medicine. “The Truth About Supplements: 5 Things You Should Know.” February 04, 2020. Accessed on: April 12, 2022. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/february/the-truth-about-supplements
  1. Cleveland Clinic. “9 Vitamins and Minerals You Should Take Daily.” November 4, 2021. Accessed on: April 12, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/which-vitamins-should-you-take/
  1. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. “Are Multivitamins Useless?” 2022. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/are-multivitamins-useless
  1. “Vitamins.” February 26, 2021. Accessed on: April 11, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002399.htm
  1. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Is it possible to take too many vitamins?” June 21, 2018. Accessed on: April 12, 2022. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/is-it-possible-to-take-too-many-vitamins

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

Science and Health Educator

Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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