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Multivitamins: Yay or Nay?

One pill. All the things. With vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, multivitamins seem too good to be true, but are they?

The Case for Yay

A multivitamin can help fill in the gaps of your diet and lifestyle. Some nutrients are more difficult for us to get, whether it’s from food (magnesium, for example) or nature (vitamin D). Most of us are unable to consume the amount of nutrients we truly need to function at optimal health — especially as we age and our stores start depleting — so a multivitamin can bring balance back to the body when it gets off course.

Almost every nutritionist we talked to stressed the importance of a multivitamin made of whole foods to supplement, not make up for, a healthful and vibrant diet.

The Case for Nay

Some skeptics say that multivitamins are unnecessary, that we can get everything we need from food. According to one NPR article, one study “found no benefit in preventing early death, heart disease, or cancer. Another found that taking multivitamins did nothing to stave off age-related cognitive decline. A third found that  high-dose multivitamins  didn’t help people who had had one heart attack avoid another.”

Jury Says

Though we technically can get most of what we need from a balanced diet, it is unlikely any of us are actually eating as much of the good stuff as we need to meet 100 percent of our daily nutritional needs. Multivitamins should supplement a good diet, not make up for it. And whatever multivitamin you choose, make sure it is made of whole foods; many synthetic multivitamins are made of things like petroleum that prevent nutrients from being absorbed into your body and even cause harm in the long run.

Read labels, do your research, and keep in mind that you still need to eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, healthy fats, and lean protein.

Photo: JPC-PROD

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