It seems more and more these days, people are turning to multivitamins and multi-minerals to help them feel better, sleep better, have more energy….The list goes on and on. But are they really working? And is it worth shelling out your hard earned cash for them? Well that depends on who you ask.
In a recent WebMD article, author Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, states that while a multivitamin can help to fill in the gaps, it is no supplement for what’s on your plate. “Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not intended to be food substitute. They cannot replace all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods,” says Zelman. That is why they are referred to as a supplement. Multivitamins are intended to “supplement” what you are already doing. Taking a multivitamin/mineral cannot replace or be instead of healthy eating habits.
But Zelman also goes on to cite numerous studies that show the benefits of certain vitamins. One such study was performed by the National Institute of Health. It found that supplementing with Calcium and Vitamin D in postmenopausal women can help to reduce bone fractures. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests people over 50 get a majority of their Vitamin B12 from synthetic sources.
So back to the original question, are they worth it or not? The short answer is maybe. For certain populations, such as postmenopausal women, or older individuals, supplementing with a specific vitamin or mineral can have benefits. But it should not replace or be instead of healthy eating. Supplements should always be in addition to what you are already doing. For the everyday average individual who does not fall into one of these special populations? Focus on the healthy eating first, and if your doctor suggests something, then try it.