Multivitamins: Are They Worth It?

Rebekah Schaff

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January 22, 2021
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Does the average person need to take a multivitamin?

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Let’s start with what a multivitamin is. You can find multivitamins in many forms, such as a gummy, gel capsule, swallowable tablet, or even a drinkable mix. They usually include 10 or more minerals and vitamins. A multivitamin theoretically supplements a lack of multiple vitamins/minerals in your diet. Let’s take a deeper dive to see where these vitamins/minerals might be found throughout your diet. Chances are, you might be eating more of them than you realize.

Here’s a list of the most common things found in your multivitamin, and where you might be getting them in your diet (1):

Vitamin A – Liver, herring, milk, margarine, sardines, egg, cheese, tuna, cod liver oil, spinach, carrots

Vitamin C – Green bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, orange, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, pineapple, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts 

Vitamin D – Cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, liver, milk (fortified), yogurt (fortified), egg yolk, cheese, butter

Vitamin E – Wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, safflower oil, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds

Niacin (Vitamin B3) – Tuna, swordfish, halibut, salmon, beef, chicken, peanut butter, lentils, enriched rice, enriched bread

Vitamin B-6 – Liver, tuna, salmon, chicken, chickpeas, banana, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, zucchini

Folate – Spinach, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, lentils, banana, orange, egg, milk

Vitamin B-12 – Beef, pork, chicken, cod, salmon, clams, oysters, egg, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt

You may have noticed that many of these vitamins/minerals come from the same foods. If you are eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables, you are likely getting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of the main vitamins and don’t need a daily multivitamin.

There is no harm or risk seen in taking a multivitamin (3,4). However, if your medical provider has identified a vitamin deficiency, or you’re on a specific medication that may block nutrient absorption, you may need to supplement with a specific vitamin, or a multivitamin in order to fill in the gaps (2). If this is the case, you should be working with a medical provider and/or dietitian to determine what is best for you. It is also important to point out that if you’re eating many fortified foods, you may hit the upper limit for many of these vitamins which could have negative consequences (4).

Overall, why not save the money! Buy a fun new fruit or vegetable and try that out – see if you can incorporate something new into your diet.  

References:

  1. Gropper, Sareen Annora Stepnick. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Australia ; United States :Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009.
  1. Blumberg JB, Bailey RL, Sesso HD, Ulrich CM. The Evolving Role of Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Use among Adults in the Age of Personalized Nutrition. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 22;10(2):248.
  1. Biesalski HK, Tinz J. Multivitamin/mineral supplements: Rationale and safety. Nutrition. 2017 Apr;36:60-66. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2016.06.003. Epub 2016 Jun 16

4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/

Edited by preRD intern, Lauren Gatto

Rebekah Schaff

Rebekah Schaff

Rebekah is pursuing her MS in Nutrition and Dietetics through MSU Denver, with plans to become a Registered Dietitian. Her goal is to work with public health and community nutrition. When she’s not studying, she is outside mountain biking, hiking to a lake, or playing sports with friends.