Role Of Multi-Vitamins

Nutrition Expert- Saba Shaikh, Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.

A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good protein packages, and healthful fats should provide most of the nutrients needed for good health. But not everyone manages to eat a healthful diet. Multivitamins can play an important role when nutritional requirements are not met through diet alone. (1)
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.
Vitamins and minerals are often called micronutrients because your body needs only tiny amounts of them. Yet failing to get even those small quantities virtually guarantees disease e.g. Scurvy, Blindness, Rickets, etc. (2)
Vitamins are organic substances that are generally classified as either fat soluble or water soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K) dissolve in fat and tend to accumulate in the body. Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate) must dissolve in water before they can be absorbed by the body, and therefore cannot be stored. Any water-soluble vitamin unused by the body is primarily lost through urine. (1)
Minerals are inorganic elements present in soil and water, which are absorbed by plants or consumed by animals. While you’re likely familiar with calcium, sodium, and potassium, there is a range of other minerals, including trace minerals (e.g. copper, iodine, and zinc) needed in very small amounts. (1)
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients (which is healthy) and getting too much (which can end up harming you). Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need. (2)
Evidence suggests that eating patterns that include relatively high intakes of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are linked to a significantly lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke conditions that rank among the top 4 leading causes of death in adults living in the United States. Plant foods, lean protein foods, and low-fat dairy products are all important sources of micronutrients that help ensure health and prevent disease.
The US Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has defined Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for 29 vitamins and minerals. Expert groups including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) recommend obtaining essential micronutrients by eating a balanced and varied diet. However, persistent or periodic nutritional gaps are common in the general population, and people who don’t consume adequate amounts of certain foods may have nutrient shortfalls. In addition, there are times throughout the life cycle when the body requires more nutrients than the typical diet may provide, such as iron during pregnancy and vitamin B12 after age 50 years. Over the course of a lifetime, deficiencies in one or more nutrients may contribute to serious health issues.
Dietary supplement use is common among consumers; in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), approximately half of all non-institutionalized civilian persons living in the United States were taking dietary supplements, most commonly multivitamin and mineral (MVM) supplements, for a variety of reasons. Thirty-three percent to 39% of the total US population takes multivitamins. In spite of their popularity, there is no standardized or regulatory definition for MVM supplements. The US National Institutes of Health has defined MVMs as supplements that consist of 3 or more micronutrients at doses less than the Tolerable Upper Level (UL) determined by the Food and Nutrition Board of the IOM and are free of herbs, hormones, or drugs. Other definitions suggest that MVM content should not be limited to only the B vitamins. Using these definitions, products with widely varying compositions, ranging from those that contain a small number of vitamins or minerals to those containing many more vitamins and minerals, and in varying doses, are all classified as MVM supplements.
Although MVM supplement formulations vary widely in number of nutrients; dose of each; and the type, form, or source of vitamins and minerals, as a whole they are often instrumental in filling nutritional gaps, including in populations where the food supply is relatively bountiful and balanced. (3)
Most multivitamin-mineral products contain the B-complex along with the rest of the essential vitamins and minerals. Since they are more complete than B-complex vitamins alone, multiple vitamin-mineral supplements are recommended to improve overall micronutrient intake and prevent deficiencies. (4)

Reasons To Take A Multivitamin

  1. Healthy aging: As we age, our nutritional needs increase. At the same time, it gets harder for the body to absorb nutrients. Medications can further deplete our body of nutrients. A multivitamin can offset these deficiencies.
  2. Good for your heart: Studies show that taking a high-quality multivitamin may reduce cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, K1, Niacin (B3), CoQ10 and magnesium, all play a role in cardiovascular health.
  3. Reduces cancer risk: Vitamin use has been associated with a decreased risk of some cancers. A recent study of 14,000 men aged 50 and older found that daily multivitamin supplementation “significantly reduced the risk of total cancer.”
  4. Boosts immunity: Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant known for strengthening the immune system. Vitamins D and E boost immunity, too. These vitamins can also help reduce allergy symptoms.
  5. Supports eye health: Vitamins A, C, E, Niacin (B3), and selenium support eye health. Lutein and Zeaxanthin also protect the eyes from harmful light waves. Studies have shown multivitamins containing a combination of vitamins, lutein, and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
  6. Water-soluble vitamins: Excess fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins (B and C) are not. Excess water-soluble vitamins simply travel through the body. This means it’s necessary to take these essential vitamins on a daily basis.
  7. Healthy hair and skin: New research says look for Vitamins B3 (Niacin), biotin, and Vitamin C for fuller hair. For healthy skin, look for Vitamins A, C, E, and CoQ10.
  8. Feel better: Thanks in large part to the Vitamin B family; taking a multivitamin is associated with a boost in energy levels, feelings of well being, as well as a decrease in stress and anxiety. This alone, makes it worth staying compliant with a multivitamin routine.(5)
    Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients (which is healthy) and getting too much (which can end up harming you). Eating a healthy diet remains the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need. (2)

References:

  1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/
  2. https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/vitamins-and-minerals.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4109789/
  4. https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=hn-2922005
  5. https://gettespo.com/blog/8-reasons-take-multivitamin-every-day/

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