Are Multi-Vitamins Worth Taking?

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 David Boyle

Since getting into fitness and nutrition a few years ago this is always a question that I’ve asked myself. Over the years I have tried a variety of different multi-vitamin formula’s some strong, some weak, some expensive, and some cheap. Even when I get out of the habit of taking one, I always get suckered back into taking one multi-vitamin or another, maybe this is the industry’s scare mongering doing its job maybe not……

What are they supposed to do?

Well there’s a god question, A Multi-Vitamin is meant to cover any shortfalls through diet and food we eat in our day to day lives. Supposedly having a full spectrum of vitamins in our body makes us able to get the best out of the food we eat as well as giving us a dose of energy.

When we look into multi-vitamins its clear that there is a fine line though; We must be careful not to get too much yet still cover our bases. Some nutritional guru’s believe that if we are eating a good diet its not necessary to take anything more than a basic multi-vitamin you can find cheaply (centrum or WHFoods basic one a day) this is because we will not only get all of our vitamins from foods but our bodies should remain in a good Alkaline balance by:

- Eating lots of Fruit and Vegetables (Especially green stuff)

- Avoiding Acidic foods (Excess grains, dairy)

- Eat good fats (Avocados and Almonds are alkaline)

- Drinking lots of Fresh Water (Squeeze in a lemon or lime)

If we take these steps out bodies remain in a alkaline state, and once this is achieved our bodies remain nourished and full of the vitamins and minerals required. If on the other hand we get into a Acidic state we will excrete Vitamins and minerals through urine, leaving the body depleted of nutrients. This is a very good article from John Berardi on Alkalizing the body and the benefits you will receive.

Diet Is Key!!

If you have a good diet which is mainly Paleo or goes along with Art Devany’s guidelines your body should remain nourished with a constant stream of not only vitamins but antioxidants and minerals. Not only this but it makes sense that the vitamins and minerals found from eating REAL foods would be far more absorbable and effective than those found in a chemically bound pill.

While fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants, Raw Nuts and seeds have all the minerals we need in high and easy to absorb doses. Meat especially grass fed beef contains generous amounts of B-Vitamins as well as good dose of vitamins A and E. When you eat a diet with a good amount of these foods you should be doing pretty good for Vitamins. If you really want to cover everything try eating Liver and Sardines a few times a week; Liver is super high in Vitamin A as well as Amino Acids and Sardines will cover your Omega-3′s to some extent.

So What To Do?

The only times I personally feel the effect of a multi-vitamin are when I am feeling run-down or stressed. They also provide quick repletion when hungover but I suspect this is more down the Strong B-vitamins than anything and for this you will need a pretty strong dose of B’s.

- Try taking a B-Complex on Alternate days or when needed, they are cheap and effective.

I have also found that a greens supplement is worthwhile and your probably better spending your money on something like Greens + than an expensive multi-vitamin. In the past when using a greens formula I have noticed within hours; more energy, brighter and clearer eye’s and more vibrant looking skin. I don’t think this is a coincidence, on top of this greens will help keep your body in an alkaline state.

- A Greens powder maybe worth a try, Try taking one portion 3-5 times a week.

Unless you can eat copious amounts of Oily fish I would also recommend taking a high quality Cod Liver Oil Supplement that has its Vitamin A & D intact.

-Shoot for 1 TBSP a day

In my opinion these supplements will actually be beneficial and give you tangible results. I have no objection to popping a standard Multi-Vitamin every now and then to absolutely make sure your bases are covered, but when push comes to shove our bodies are remarkably good at balancing themselves out and if your helping out by eating nourishing foods you should have no problem going Multi-Vitamin Free.

So to Re-Cap

- Eat a Alkalizing assortment of foods (Fruits, Vegtables, Nuts, Seeds)

- Take Cod Liver Oil (for the Vitamin A and D)

- Experiment with Green’s supplements

- Take a B-Complex at times of depletion (High-Stress, Hangovers, Sleep depravation, intense exercise)

For me a Multi-Vitamin has never done anything noticeable but the above supplements have had actual results and are something I highly recommend before spending money on Multi’s.

Also please feel free to post comments on what you think of Multi-Vitamins and whether you take them or not…..

Comments

  1. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later says

    Hi Chris – good post. The evidence is actually mixed for the benefits of taking multi-vitamins and I would agree that we ought to be able to get what we need from the nutritionally dense food recommended by a paleo diet. Interestingly, Loren Cordain recommends supplementation of anti-oxidants and other things on the basis that we are these days exposed to more toxins than our ancestors were and therefore need more of these helpful substances to conteract that. However, I tend to think that in the modern world we have access to more regular and substantial portions of fruit, veg and nuts that would our ancestors and that this balances out the toxin effect.

    So for me, a good diet is enough and whilst specific supplementation might have benefits, multi-vitamins are not required and might even cause damage if you are already getting plenty of, for example, vitamin A, from other sources.

  2. Jasmine Beaupre says

    I agree with you 100% “diet is key” – My hubby used to take piles of vitamin supplements and often wondered why he didn’t feel good. I told him to EAT ! but eat good wholesome raw foods and not the processed junk. He did and now he’s as healthy as me.

    Great article, thanks for the imput.

  3. Seamus Anthony says

    Thanks Chris – thanks for stopping by Rebel Zen – I hadn’t seen your blog yet either and I must say that’s one hell of a lovely design you’ve got there :-) I’ve subscribed so looking forward to a good read!

    I just went to a naturopath yesterday for a fairly serious bowel thing and now I’m off wheat, dairy, alcohol and coffee. :-(

    Good thing I enjoy my work ;-)

  4. Yegin - No Diet Needed says

    Good post. To add to Methuselah’s point, excessive amounts of fat soluble vitamins (A D E K) are toxic (very excessive amounts) and daily need of these vitamins are not very high. I believe a well balanced diet would be enough.
    Also Vitamin deficiency is not a very common issue in west so I’m really questioning the purpose of stores full of multi vitamin supplements.

  5. Chris says

    @ Methuselah: Great spot I have always wondered about Cordain’s views on supplements as his books remain vague on the topic. I guess it makes sense taking a strong Anti-Oxidant cocktail would do us a load of good in this day and age. Vitamin C for its bang to buck ration seems pretty good, it seems to have real effects and its also pretty cheap and safe in high doses…..
    @ Jasmine: Diet really is key. Eating like crap means you will feel tat way regardless of what pills you pop, I’m glad to hear your husbands eating better and feeling it!
    @ Seamus: Thanks for checking in, I hope you will find future content interesting as well as checking out the archives. Your blog is absolutely awesome….
    @ Yegin: I sometimes think its better to ditch a supplement unless you can feel it, a Overly strong Multi-vitamin definitely seems like a glorified B-Vitamin complex to me. A solid wholefoods based basic formula on the other hand can be picked up cheaply and maybe of good effect.

  6. Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later says

    Chris – I actually bought and read Cordain’s ‘Paleo Diet for Athletes.’ Unless you are an endurance athlete, which obviously I am not, it’s only of interest from a theoretical point of view, but it’s in there that he recommends supplementation and judicious use of non-paleo foods pre and post performance.

  7. Tom Parker says

    Good post Chris. I do try and eat a good amount of fruit and veg each day but still stick with a multi-vitamin to make sure I am covering all basis. I also take an omega 3 fatty acids supplement and a magnesium supplement which I really find helps improve my quality of sleep.

    On the topic of hangovers I have never actually tried taking multi-vitamins as a quick fix. I will have to give them or b-vitamins a try next time I have a few too many.

  8. M says

    I think that we want to get our nutrition through our eating but a supplement help ensures that we do. At least I am convinced of this. Nice post!

  9. Chris says

    @ Tom: I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how effective a strong B-Complex is after a few too many, Stops hangovers in their tracks. Berrocca is good they are cheap and High in B-Vitamins and as they are dispersible they absorb far faster.
    @ M: Thats the key get your nutrition in check and your good to go; A multi-Vitamin should be nothing more than a security blanket so shoot for one thats natural and not too high in anything particular.
    @ Methuselah: Good to know that about his book for athletes, I have the original paleo diet book which I love and regularly grab for a quick browse…..

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