A recent poll conducted for the American Osteopathic Association found that 86 per cent of American adults take a multivitamin or supplement of some kind. Further findings report that only about 25 per cent of those people have a nutritional deficiency. So, is it necessary to be popping a vitamin pill every day? Maybe not, say medical experts.
Who Really Needs a Multivitamin?
The multivitamin industry is a multibillion-dollar one, but experts at Johns Hopkins say that the money would be better spent on fresh, nutritious food than on pills. The only people who really need a multivitamin are those with a nutritional deficiency, whether it’s due to health or a specific disease. People may be buying into the promised health benefits of a vitamin when, in fact, making healthy lifestyle changes is a better bet. Talk to your doctor about your nutritional levels to find out if a supplement could help. For example, pregnant women should always take a folic acid supplement to support the healthy development of their baby.
Are There Benefits to a Daily Supplement?
If you have a health condition that causes low levels of a specific nutrient, it’s clear that taking a supplement may be necessary. There’s also a lot of hype out there touting the benefits of popping a vitamin each day. Researchers at Harvard University report that the research on multivitamins is slim, though there isn’t much risk involved with taking one. The nutrients in multivitamins have been reported to do everything from preventing cancer to reducing the risk of a heart attack. Harvard experts say there isn’t enough proof to support these claims and that you should be seeing your doctor regularly if you’re at risk of any such health condition.
Dangers of Multivitamins
While the consensus among medical professionals is that the risk of harm as a result of supplement use is low, there are some things to consider when deciding whether to use them or not. Some nutrients can be harmful at high doses and can cause more harm than good. Research studies indicate that long term use of multivitamins has no effect on heart disease risk, does not offer significant benefits for cognitive health, and only has a very small effect on cancer risk.
Ideas for Getting the Most out of Your Multivitamin
As mentioned above, it’s important to work with your doctor when it comes to choosing whether to use a multivitamin or not. However, most medical professionals will tell you to make other healthy choices instead. According to the Mayo Clinic, supplements are not a substitute for eating right and getting enough exercise. Instead of relying on a pill to keep you healthy, you should be eating fresh, whole foods as often as possible, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. This ensures that your body gets the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy.
A multivitamin can be a helpful tool for optimal health but should be used in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle choices. Talk to your doctor before you start taking any kind of multivitamin or supplement.