HomeAnswersDo you need a multivitamin?

Do you need a multivitamin?

This question is about Nutrition
Sarah Achleithner
While not everyone needs a multivitamin, it may prove beneficial for some groups and individuals, by providing functional benefits and filling nutrient gaps [1, 2]. Even though taking a multivitamin can provide missing vitamins and minerals, it won’t mitigate the other health risks that come with a poor diet. 
A poor diet usually consists of refined sugars, processed foods, and trans-fats, and has been linked to a risk of chronic disease, obesity, inflammation, and cancer, as well as a risk for nutritional deficiency [1]. Conversely, eating a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein has been shown to be one of the best strategies to prevent disease, reduce the risk of cancer, and extend your lifespan [3,4].
As such, multivitamins and dietary supplements should be consumed in tandem with a nutritious diet, not in place of it. Supplements are intended to supplement dietary intake, not replace it.
Furthermore, some people have higher needs for specific nutrients (such as in hypermetabolic states, heavy training, pregnancy and/or lactation), or malabsorption issues. For these reasons, taking a safe, well-researched multivitamin can be beneficial, as it can fill in the gaps and make up for shortfalls in your diet [2]. However, it’s best to get bloodwork done so you have a baseline, and check with your healthcare provider to determine if a multivitamin is right for you.
different forms of supplementation

References:

  1. Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Keast, D. R., Bailey, R. L., & Dwyer, J. (2011). Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients?. The Journal of nutrition141(10), 1847–1854. https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.142257  
  2. Rautiainen, S., Manson, J. E., Lichtenstein, A. H., & Sesso, H. D. (2016). Dietary supplements and disease prevention - a global overview. Nature reviews. Endocrinology, 12(7), 407–420. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrendo.2016.54   
  3. Schulze, M. B., Martínez-González, M. A., Fung, T. T., Lichtenstein, A. H., & Forouhi, N. G. (2018). Food based dietary patterns and chronic disease prevention. BMJ. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2396 
  4. Fadnes, L. T., Økland, J.-M., Haaland, Ø. A., & Johansson, K. A. (2022). Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLOS Medicine, 19(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889