The daily multivitamin...It’s a pretty great thing, right? And if they have all the nutrients you need, then...can't they somewhat bridge the gaps and slight deficiencies in your diet?
I love eating healthy and clean, and I strive to feed my body every day with things that are good for it! And I know you probably do too.
But maybe you’ve had the guilty thought before when taking your multivitamin, "I'm glad I'm taking this, just in case my diet isn't the best today!"
We all feel a sense of reassurance and relief when taking a multivitamin, like it is covering all our bases. Or maybe even acting as a replacement for a healthy diet...
But some doctors don't believe in the benefits of multivitamins at ALL, because they think that, as long as you are eating healthy, vitamins and supplements shouldn't be necessary.
As you can imagine, the truth lies somewhere between. If today our goal is to answer the question, "Can a multivitamin make up for some of your unhealthy eating or gaps in your nutrition?" My answer would have to be both YES and NO!
Let me explain why!
As you probably know, unfortunately, most of your vitamins come out in your urine and is not absorbed into your body.
This is because the food that you eat typically has other things in it that encourage your body to absorb those vitamins from food.
For example, the fat in the meat you eat helps your body absorb the vitamin B12 in the meat. Whereas, if you just take a vitamin B12 supplement, it is not absorbed quite as well because it doesn't have the benefit of the fat with it. Or another example, fiber in the foods you eat helps the food digest more slowly in your gut, so your body has ample time to absorb nutrients. Whereas, if you just took a multivitamin on an empty stomach, it may be going straight through your digestive system like a rocket, not having much time to absorb at all!
Also, did you know, the vitamins in your multivitamin fight each other??
Okay, maybe it's not quite as dramatic as that, but just as an example, iron and zinc fight each other. What I mean is, they have an inverse relationship to each other. Your body only wants to absorb one of them at a time. And so if your multivitamin has more iron in it, it's going to try and crowd out the absorption of zinc. And vice versa.
But as I’ve said, this is less of a problem when eating food, because food is more likely to have compounds that help a nutrient, rather than fight it. For example, leafy greens and quinoa have iron and vitamin C in them. As opposed to the example I just used, where zinc and iron fight each other, vitamin C actually helps iron.
Okay, so based on what I’ve said so far, multivitamins may not seem like the best idea. I've covered how most of it is not absorbed by your body, and also how the vitamins end up working against each other and fighting each other.
And one last thing — there are certain nutrients that you can only get through eating food. Let's take flavonoids as an example. These are the pigments that make fruits and vegetables colorful, and they are also cancer-fighting antioxidants. You won't find these in a vitamin. You need to actually eat these colorful fruits and vegetables to get the antioxidant benefits.
However, I am also going to say that, YES, in certain situations, vitamins are very helpful!
Like, in the winter, a lot of people become deficient in vitamin D (even though you should be safely spending time outside in winter because the sun does still offer vitamin D!)
Also, vitamins and supplements are important during pregnancy because you really do need an extra push beyond your normal diet...now that there's two of you!!
It's true that up to 90% of a multivitamin ends up coming out in your urine. But I would say, in some special cases, getting that boost of 10% can be helpful. Especially because vitamin B deficiencies, vitamin D deficiencies, potassium deficiencies, and calcium deficiencies are something that so many people suffer with. And while they really need to be looking to improve these deficiencies via diet, a multivitamin is a good first step.
I want to help you reach your health and fitness goals, and the best way to do that is a healthy, well-rounded diet and an active lifestyle...
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