It’s easy to get confused about whether you need to be taking a multivitamin, or any other nutritional supplements. On one hand you have people who say that everyone should be taking one, and on the other hand you have people who say there’s no need what so ever. Which is right? Of course, the answer is somewhere in the middle and depends completely upon you and your diet.
The people who say that multivitamins are a waste of money tell you that you can get everything you need in your diet. That is ideal, and if you are someone like David Wolfe, I bet you get everything you need and more. If you don’t know who he is, David Wolfe is a celebrity in the healthy eating and longevity world. He makes his living talking about how to eat right with plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially avocados.
Most people aren’t living his lifestyle and taking the time to get the same wide variety foods that he eats. It’s not that you can’t. You just aren’t for whatever reason.
I worked with a woman once who was on the other side of the spectrum. She came in every morning with a sandwich bag full of tablets and capsules. In the year or so that I worked with her I don’t recall ever seeing her eat any real food. She firmly believed in taking her multivitamins every day.
Do You Need to Take a Multivitamin?
Most of us fall somewhere between the two people I mentioned above. You try to eat healthy but you are busy with work and life and don’t always get the time to make the best dietary choices.
A lot of people may even be confused about what a “healthy choice” is. Every day some expert comes out with new information about what is and isn’t healthy. Yesterday you could eat potatoes. Today you read that they are the worst thing you can eat. Tomorrow you will find out that they are a superfood and will help you to live until you are 300 years old.
You should be able to at least trust the government and their food pyramid recommendations, right? My belief is no. Their recommendations are politically and financially motivated. For example, the dairy recommendation is to appease the dairy lobby. The meat recommendations are funded by the beef and pork lobby. The bread, cereal, fruit and vegetable recommendations are brought to you by the various farm and grower lobbies.
Even if you can trust the food pyramid, it’s way too vague to build a healthy diet around. According to an article on Wikipedia, in the US we are supposed to make sure that half of our plate is fruits and vegetables, with about four times as many vegetables as there is fruit. That sounds good, but most people think that vegetables are green. You’ll get a lot of nutrition from green veggies, but you’ll miss out on all of the other nutrients that are available in the reds, oranges, yellows, purples, etc.
Someone who has a rainbow of vegetables in a week is probably going to be a lot healthier than someone who only eats green peas. I don’t mean to pick on peas. I really like peas.
I don’t eat much fast food, so I figure that I’m doing better than most, but I also don’t get the full array of vegetable colors every week, so I supplement.
That leaves one more question…
What Makes One Multivitamin Better Than Another?
There are many, many different multivitamins on the market, so how do you choose which is best? Look at the ingredients of course and keep in mind why you are taking a multivitamin.
Many of the popular multivitamins are chock full of artificial ingredients and other things that you don’t want. Actually, a lot of the vitamins are artificially sourced too, but that can be harder to determine. I looked at the label of a very popular multivitamin and saw that the first ingredient is sucrose – table sugar. It’s a sugar pill.
I was looking for the artificial colors that I knew had to be in the list, but I couldn’t find them because I was looking toward the end. They were higher up, suggesting that there are more artificial colors in the tablets than any of the vitamins or minerals that you are hoping to get. Of course there are also the artificial flavors, guar gum, modified corn starch and carrageenan that your diet is probably short on too. It is a multi-vitamin after all.
If I want sugar, guar gum and carrageenan then I’ll eat ice cream instead! You’re looking for the nutrients that you need because you don’t get enough fruits and vegetables.
I was looking at Vitamin D3 supplements a while back. Most of the ones I could find at a grocery store had more ingredients that a bag of chocolate chip cookies. What I wanted was just one ingredient – Vitamin D3. I can see needing a few others to get it into a format that can be bottled for consumers, but not ten or more. I finally found one at Whole Foods that has only 5 ingredients.
A Better Multivitamin
A better multivitamin doesn’t need artificial flavors or colors. It will also have items in the ingredient label that suggest what you are actually trying to supplement – vegetables, like parsley, alfalfa, kelp, cranberry, grapes, spinach. Those are the things that you want to supplement.
When I’m looking for a multivitamin I go to Nikken’s Mega Daily 4. The vegetables I listed above are from the ingredient list for Mega Daily 4. There are two varieties, one for men and one for women. The men’s vitamin contains added ingredients, like saw palmetto, to support prostate health. The women’s vitamin contains yet other ingredients, like red clover and dong quay extract, to support a woman’s needs.
They both have only five additional ingredients to stabilize and put all of the real ingredients into a format that you can consume easily. No artificial colors or flavors, no corn starch, no guar gum, and no carrageenan. You’ll have to get your daily fill of them somewhere else (or not!).
Let’s Take a Little Survey
Do you get all of the nutrition you need in your regular diet?
A. Yes I do. Call me David (Wolfe, remember?).
B. No, I take a popular brand of sugar pill.
C. No, I actually found a good multivitamin.
D. No, I… um… no, I don’t.
Leave me your answer in a comment below. Please, this is just for fun. Nobody’s perfect, least of all me. I would also greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to share this post with your followers on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!
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