Do Multivitamins Actually Work?

It's a question that's always plagued me: am I wasting my time taking multivitamins? So I've decided to put those thoughts to bed and do the research.
Do Multivitamins Actually Work?

So I'm on a bit of a health kick at the moment: I've started looking at my nutrition and even taking body combat classes (more information on this soon!). Having looked through my Neal's Yard Healing Foods book which drills into you the importance of nutrition and vitamins, I decided to look into adding a multivitamin to my newly improved diet. After a little bit of digging around about whether they actually do work, I wanted to share with you what I found.

It's important to note that you can get all the vitamins you need from a healthy, balanced and varied diet. However, most people I know don't have a perfect diet which incorporates all kinds of vitamins - I know I certainly don't, despite my better efforts! Also, there are vitamins which are important for certain people to ensure they get - pregnant women with folic acid and vitamin D for example. But for my purposes, I wanted to know whether it was actually worthwhile taking an everyday multivitamin to boost my health, or whether I would just be (to paraphrase Sheldon Cooper) ensuring I had very expensive urine.

So here is the bad news. Taking too many multivitamins for too long a period of time can actually be harmful to your body according to NICE. However, if you stick to the recommended dosage, there should be no problems, so that's that one put to bed. But on a more deflating note to those of us hoping multivitamins would work miracles for our health, research has found that taking a multivitamin does not extend the life span, fight heart problems or ward off memory loss. So for those of you with hopes of multivitamins acting as a little magic pill, unfortunately you may have to look at your diet and lifestyle in order to reap any real benefits in terms of preventing disease and prolonging your life.

Now for the more positive news. Multivitamins have been proven to work well to fill nutritional gaps in your diet, and really that's all they're made for! After all, they are a supplement rather than a food replacement, so it seems a little much to ask for a small pill to solve all our dietary problems (if only!). No, they won't make you lose weight or gain loads of energy, but they will ensure you get the right amount of vitamins for your body - and any you don't need, your body will get rid of. Deficiencies in some vitamins can lead to serious health problems, so anything you can do to ensure you are not missing out on any nutrients will help. In this way, popping a multivitamin once a day can work to make sure you don't develop deficiencies and that most nutritional bases are covered.

I know for sure that I benefit from a daily boost in iron which I otherwise would not get if I weren't to take a multivitamin. I take mine like an insurance - I eat healthily throughout the day safe in the knowledge that if I miss any vitamins in my food, my multivitamin will pick up the slack. However, I wouldn't say they were an absolute necessity and they really needn't cost the earth! My personal favourites are the Superdrug A-Z Chewable Vitamins and Minerals which come in a box of 60 for only £2.99, and as a bonus, they taste like a little yummy treat every day.

So, if you feel like you need a little help with ensuring you get all the vitamins you need, go ahead and try a multivitamin - but please don't expect miracles!


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