Do I Really Need a Multivitamin?

Multivitamins are filled with nutrients—but if we eat healthfully, shouldn’t we be getting all those nutrients through our diets? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good protein and healthy fats should provide most of the nutrients needed for good health. Still, many Americans fall short of the recommended micronutrient intake set by the American Institute of Medicine, especially vitamins like D and E. As a result, “A daily multivitamin is an inexpensive nutrition insurance policy,” the Harvard experts advise.

Our practitioners recommend a good multivitamin for a variety of health goals, however. For instance, “Adults with athletic and active lifestyles can benefit from a multivitamin’s ability to repair tissue, replace electrolytes and provide antioxidants to stop free radical damage,” says Elizabeth Willis, herbalist and nutritionist at our downtown Boulder store.

For people undergoing large amounts of stress, Elizabeth says a multivitamin can help flush stress hormones from the body, increase energy and help the body better adapt. “A quality multivitamin is also a good choice for those on a restricted diet or those with digestive disorders,” says Elizabeth (such as vegetarians or those who eat a gluten-free diet), since those conditions can limit your ability to intake all of the nutrients you need.

“Medications such as antibiotics, sleeping pills, aspirin and oral contraceptives can deplete vitamins and nutrients in the body,” says Don Summerfield, Pharmaca’s vice president of integrative health, in addition to smoking, dieting, alcohol consumption and obesity. “A good multivitamin can do is give you reassurance that you are getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals needed for good health.”

“Remember that a multivitamin won’t compensate for a poor diet—but it can help fill nutritional gaps in a good one,” says Summerfield. Ultimately, it’s about eating a healthy, varied diet that meets your nutritional needs, and adding the “insurance” of a good multi.

Speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about finding the right multivitamin for your nutritional needs.

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