The business of multivitamins generates about $30 billion in revenue each year. There are over 90,000 products that fall into the category of multivitamins. And about 70 percent of adults in the United States take at least one multivitamin a day. These numbers are impressive.
For many of us, the habit of taking a daily multivitamin began in childhood. The practice of adding a multivitamin to our daily rituals is as natural as brushing our teeth. Where does this come from and why do we need vitamins?
Even if you eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercises, it is still possible to come up short on the levels of vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain your health. The purpose of multivitamins is to make up for this imbalance. It is often difficult to get everything you need simply by eating right.
What is a Multivitamin?
A multivitamin is really any dietary supplement that contains more than just one vitamin and mineral. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate multivitamins, but the general rule is that a multivitamin contains three or more dietary supplements that are below the upper-level daily limit and do not pose a health risk.
Generally, a multivitamin contains a mix of vitamins and minerals that are designed to work together to help maintain health, often in specific ways. For example, there are multivitamins geared toward specific forms of health. A multivitamin meant to help with thyroid conditions contains large amounts of vitamin B-6, niacin, and iodine, among many other vitamins and nutrients.
Other multivitamins are specific for men and women since there are health issues specific to our gender. Men’s multivitamins contain Vitamin E and L-Glutamine. Women’s multivitamins are often heavy on thinks like calcium for bone strength and biotin for metabolism.
The point is that there is no single multivitamin for all purposes. There are multivitamins designed to maintain health in that they contain the FDA recommended daily dosage of the most common vitamins and minerals. But most often, multivitamins come in forms that are designed to support specific needs.
Why do we need Vitamins?
Our bodies are performing myriad functions and processes all the time. From the production of skin cells to the very function of our hearts and brains, the human body is a relentless machine that requires an equally relentless stream of fuels to perform these functions. Much of this fuel comes in the form of vitamins and minerals.
Vitamins and minerals, the ingredients of a multivitamin, are often called micronutrients. Our bodies require relatively small quantities of these micronutrients, but if we do not get them there are serious physical consequences.
Some of the diseases directly caused by vitamin deficiencies are:
This is from a vitamin C deficiency. It causes bleeding gums and a lack of physical energy.
Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness.
This is from a vitamin D deficiency and leads to soft weak bones and skeletal deformities.
Most of these diseases are largely a thing of the past thanks to a general awareness of good nutrition and the widespread availability of nutritious foods. But the fact that these diseases exist gives you some sense of the importance of vitamins and minerals in our diet.
The basic physiological processes of life depend on a baseline supply of all vitamins and minerals. Without them, we get sick.
As a general rule, we can get enough vitamins and minerals in a healthy diet to maintain our health. But, like all general rules, there are exceptions. Some people simply require more of some things than others in order to be healthy. Not all of us eat enough of the right foods to get the proper amount of vitamins in our diet. Given these conditions, there are multivitamins to make up the difference.
Multivitamins provide a boost for people who require more of one nutrient than the average person. Many of us live lives that are extremely busy. We skip meals or eat meals that are not as healthy as they could be. Multivitamins can make up the difference here also.
What can a Multivitamin do?
Multivitamins can be beneficial to your health. For example, a multivitamin that contains a combination of vitamin D and calcium will help build bone strength. Folic acid combined with B vitamins is good for women’s reproductive health. Antioxidants and Vitamin C are known to fight disease.
In terms of general nutrition, multivitamins are ideal for helping to ensure that you are getting all the micronutrients necessary for health. Many of us know we do not always eat right, but the problem of not getting the proper basic nutrition is an issue that afflicts the entire US. One study showed that roughly 75 percent of Americans do not consume enough fruit, and another 80 percent do not eat enough fresh vegetables.
A multivitamin that contains a good balance of the basic micronutrients can help when we do not eat a proper diet. Multivitamins that contain a full spectrum of Vitamins A, C, D and E combined with a healthy amount of fiber and minerals make up the shortfall from not eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
While multivitamins are an ideal supplement for specific health issues and dietary shortfalls, it is important to be careful with the types of multivitamins you take. There is no single multivitamin that will fit the needs of everyone.
If you are primarily concerned about general nutrition, take a multivitamin that is geared specifically toward the recommended daily allowance of basic micronutrients. If there are health issues you want to address, choose a multivitamin geared toward these issues. For instance, sleep problems can be treated with a multivitamin that includes a good dose of melanin combined with B vitamins that can work as a natural sleep aid.
Be aware of your own health issues. It is important to take care that you do not take a multivitamin that could compromise the medications you take for health problems. This is something you should talk about with your doctor.
Benefits of taking Multivitamin
As we said above, there are two major reasons to take a multivitamin: for general nutrition and specific areas of health. Since there are so many combinations of multivitamins, each designed for specific purposes, it would be impossible to list all the benefits. But the main benefits of taking a multivitamin include:
We require different amounts of certain vitamins and minerals as we age. Bones and muscles become weakened with age, and some multivitamins can help with this. A multivitamin that contains vitamin D and an amino acid supplement can help with these issues.
Studies have shown that a multivitamin rich with B vitamins, magnesium, and niacin can help combat cardiovascular disease. Since cardiovascular disease is so prevalent in our society, this type of multivitamin just makes sense.
Protection against cancer
While a multivitamin cannot cure cancer, a multivitamin that has a good supply of vitamins C and D have been shown to help prevent cancer. It appears that these two vitamins are particularly effective in guarding against cancer.
Help with the immune system
Vitamins C, D, and E, when taken together, provide a boost to the immune system. This is an effective way of protecting against common diseases.
Improve eye health
Doctors have shown that a multivitamin that contains vitamins A, C, and E provide a significant boost to eye health. Combine these with lutein and zeaxanthin and this can protect against macular degeneration.
A multivitamin that contains the proper array of basic micronutrients will make you feel better overall. Multivitamins of this type will help give you more energy, protect against common diseases, and bolster a general state of good health.
Who can benefit most from taking a Multivitamin? The truth is that almost anyone can benefit from taking a multivitamin. We all could use a boost for immunity and heart health. But there are some groups of people who could benefit from taking a specific multivitamin. Again, it is impossible to give an exhaustive list, but a few standouts include:
People who do not get enough sun. So many of us work in offices all day, and we do not get enough sunlight, and this is essential for the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary to help the body assimilate calcium for bone health and bone growth. Since few foods contain vitamin D unless it is added, a multivitamin that contains vitamin D can help.
Vegans and Older People
Vitamin B-12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells. Since vegans do not eat meat or any other dietary source of B-12, a multivitamin that contains vitamin B-12 and supplemental proteins may become essential. What is more, the physiological processes of producing red blood cells slows down as we age. Older people can also benefit from a multivitamin that combines B-12 and supplemental proteins.
Folic acid is a common micronutrient essential to prenatal development. It is common in grains, meats, dairy products, and many fresh vegetables. Since folic acid is so crucial to the development of babies, doctors routinely recommend folic acid supplements for pregnant women. These frequently come in a multivitamin.
Best Multivitamin for Men & Woman
As we can see above, multivitamins are frequently geared toward specific needs. This holds true for men and women. The truth is, our bodies are different. We have different physiological requirements in some areas, and the vitamins and minerals necessary to support those needs are also different.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides a detailed breakdown of the nutrition requirements for everyone—from infancy to adulthood, and for males and females. It is a good idea to consult your healthcare provider for direction on this subject. But there are a few things you can think about.
Premenopausal women generally need more iron than men. Multivitamins will vary as to the other supplements in these types of vitamins directed for women, but all will include roughly twice as much iron than what is recommended for men.
Some studies suggest that men can benefit from certain multivitamin supplements. A multivitamin that contains a healthy boost of beta carotene, vitamins C and E and zinc have been shown to help slow things like macular degeneration in men.
The important thing to consider is your personal health issues. While it is true that men and women face different issues as we age, most multivitamins contain the vitamins and minerals necessary to support good health for all of us.
A multivitamin like WODPak from NF Sport is ideal for general health and fitness. In addition to the multivitamin benefits, it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help with muscle health. Perfect for athletes and for the rest of us.
Wrapping things up
As we can see there are numerous benefits to taking a multivitamin. Everything from basic health maintenance to help with specific health issues can be supported with the right multivitamin.
It is true that multivitamins are big business. But is also true that this business meets a real need. Modern life is a busy life. We are on the go, and many of us juggle multiple responsibilities. All of this can get in the way of a healthy diet. While we try to stay in front of this issue, many of us do not get the nutrition we need to be healthy.
Multivitamins supply much of the supplemental nutrition we lose from not eating healthy.
For people with specific health issues, multivitamins can bolster their efforts to stay healthy. There are multivitamins designed to support heart health, for example. When combines with exercise and other healthy habits, people who have heart issues can stay in good shape.
Multivitamins can also help with issues as we age. Increasing the vitamins and essential minerals that strengthen our bones and boost our immune systems makes it easier to stay healthy and active as we age.
Taking a multivitamin can be an easy addition to your health regimen. Couples with an active lifestyle, multivitamins can help us stay fit.