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 REALfoods 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.