Multivitamins – Fact or Fiction
So what are multivitamins? Many of us take them, but do we really know what is in them?
~Multivitamins are a mixture of individual vitamins combined together using inactive ingredients as a cement or bonding compound to give you the many different types of nutrients needed for everyday health and wellness.~ (Ryan Barker MSACN, DC)
Most would agree that supplementing with a multivitamin would have a positive effect on one’s health, but some critics of multivitamin supplementation would argue that all you are doing is wasting your money by taking an oral multivitamin. In essence they are both right. The truth lies in how you eat. The “gas tank” analogy best explains the average person. If you drive your car until it runs out of gas it will no longer run. Fill the tank back up and the car starts to run again. But is more gas better? If you fill your tank until gas is running all over the ground will your car run better, or longer? No, you would just be wasting your money. This is also true for multivitamins. If you are eating a wide variety of foods rich in fiber and color and consuming lean healthy protein sources then the likelihood of your multivitamin helping you is about the same as you over filling the tank. The extra is just going to run down the drain-literally!
We all want to believe that we eat healthy, but the truth is that due to modern society and our busy schedules most of us are lucky to grab a coffee and a bagel before leaving the house, leaving us dreaming of that spinach and feta omelet that we wanted to make. When we make sacrifices in our whole food (what we eat everyday) nutrition we create deficiencies in vital nutrients which help run all bodily functions. Unknowingly we are walking around with our bodies working at a level 40-50% less than what they should be. I know you are saying, well I can function in the morning with my coffee and bagel and that may be true, but I challenge you to not drink another cup of coffee through the entire day and only eat bagels. At some point your body says enough. As a society we have filled proper nutrition with stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine to cover up those daily doses of fatigue simply because it is easier and more convenient than planning out a well balanced meal the night before. If you are not eating foods rich in fiber and color and consuming lean healthy protein sources then a multivitamin should be a part of your diet. That being said, a vitamin should never replace eating well. They should only be used as a supplement to your diet not a replacement.
“Meeting with a Certified Nutritionist (MSACN) for nutritional evaluation should review key components which include, weight and body analysis, family history, current health concerns, and current medication and a symptom survey help to evaluate your risks and deficiencies in order to apply appropriate nutritional care.” Dr. Ryan Barker MSACN, DC
If you do not have the time or means to see a Certified Clinical Nutritionist it is important to know how to shop for vitamins. With anything the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings true. Multivitamins come in every size, shape and color. The manufacture chooses to use different forms of active ingredients due to the laxity of FDA policing, but not all ingredients are created equal. Generally speaking, the cheaper the price of the multivitamin the cheaper the forms utilized in the mix. Opt for “bioavailable” forms or forms and mixtures that are more easily used by the body. Examples of this include vitamin D3 which is more bioavailable than vitamin D2. Another example would be calcium citrate versus calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate does not absorb well in the digestive tract. In the end a little time and research can save you a lot of time and money, and remember “less is more.” Try to keep it simple and don’t buy overly processed or overly packed vitamins because your body will just excrete them when they are not broken down to be absorbed. As always, consult your health care provider before taking any supplementation to prevent adverse health and drug interactions.
Dr. Ryan Barker MSACN, DC Armand Gagliardi