Multivitamins are everywhere. You’ve got those One-A-Days and Centrums and even Flintstone vitamins for kids. They even come in chewable gummy forms, and for adults. When most people think of taking their vitamins, they think of these and not about taking the isolated forms.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, special multivitamins can be useful where a stubborn person could do with them than without. A sizable number of people find supplements unpalatable, and they would probably find it difficult to take what I mentioned in my $100 Spring 2014 nutrition stack.
I’ve never really written about multivitamins before, but I did write about nootropic blends, and their advantages and disadvantages in a similar vein. The difference between nootropic and multivitamin blends is that in a multivitamin there isn’t any apparent diminishing return on its purported benefits.
Nonetheless, this article is brought to you by this question: Should you or I take a multivitamin?
- Does my diet consist mainly of whole and largely unprocessed foods?
- Do I juice or otherwise eat a variety of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis?
- Do I abstain from drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco and irregular sleep patterns?
- Are my physical and mental health in peak condition?
If you can say yes to at least 3 of those questions, you most likely do not need a multivitamin and would be better off spending supplement funds on places in your diet where you may be lacking in certain vitamins.
For everyone else, read on.
The advantage of multivitamins
Since I started this site, I had already amassed a very sizable collection of supplements.
1 year later, they engulf an entire cupboard. If it were the 15th century I would be Ye Olde Apothecary by default.
Since most people are not me and do not necessarily have the time or patience to experiment with different supplements and fill their cupboards with everything they may ever need, I have to take a wild guess and assume that most people do not want a cupboard full of every single substance under the sun that can be taken as a supplement.
In a way, I envy people who only feel the need to take one thing.
So here are the de-facto advantages of multivitamins:
- Great and highly recommended if your diet sucks
- They save your time and your space
- Generally only need to take one
- Palatable, especially in chewable and gummy forms
The disadvantage of multivitamins
Multivitamin manufacturers know they appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Ordinary, busy people do not know they need certain and specific forms of vitamins and minerals to get what they need out of their supplement. This is understandable, as not all of us can do the research on every single little thing. There’s not enough time in a single lifetime.
Because of this perfect storm, multivitamin manufacturers know they can get away with putting Vitamin E on the label (for example) if they cut corners and use a form that is cheaper to use (petroleum-derived synthetic alpha tocopherol) even if it’s not proven to be beneficial, or has even proven to be harmful compared to another form occurring in food.
Lastly, like my similar post about the nootropic blends, some extra things are added that sound good in theory. In theory. This is theoretical because in practice, doses of special things like herbs are super-tiny and may have a negligible benefit to the body. But they look good on the label because it makes it seem like this one product has everything you need™!
Despite my cluttered cupboard, let’s recap the 3 reasons why I may not take a multivitamin:
- Limited to what the manufacturer puts into them
- Cheaper forms of nutrients often added that the body may not be able to use
- Useless and/or ridiculously tiny amounts of other ingredients added for a selling point
A solid compromise
There are some great multivitamins out there, but you do have to look for them. Here are a few I’ve recommended to people who ordered consultations from me on Fiverr who wanted a simple multivitamin and were pleased with it:
- Innate Response Formulas – Men’s One Daily (Iron Free)
- Sun Warrior, Raw Vitamins, Daily Multivitamin for Him, 90 Veggie Caps
- Garden of Life, Vitamin Code, Men, 240 UltraZorbe Veggie Caps
In my opinion, the Garden of Life one looks really good considering that it has 2 months of tablets and non-synthetic vitamin forms.
If you don’t want to bother with a multivitamin but still would like to add some supplements to your routine, consider using my $100 nutrition stack as a starting point for building your nutritional foundation.