Everyone is always looking for the next best thing to improve their health. Whether it’s the latest fitness craze or the best-selling protein powder on the market, there are many ways to give a boost to our wellness. While you may have taken a chewable as a kid, if you haven’t upgraded your multivitamin as an adult, consider this your gentle reminder. If you’re not sure about the benefits or side effects of taking a daily multivitamin, we have you covered.
Dr. Marc Leavey, a primary care internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, described vitamins as micronutrients, or “chemicals which act to promote or expedite biochemical reactions within the body.” The majority of vitamins you need come from the environment and the food you eat, he said. Supplements, on the other hand, are the pills you can purchase at the store that contain specific doses of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin D, iron, biotin and more. The question, then, isn’t whether vitamins are important (they are), but how you should best incorporate them into your daily nutrition plan.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to your health. They plan an important role in how your body functions, such as helping your body convert the food you eat into energy. i Do you need to take a multivitamin or dietary supplement in order to get the vitamins and nutrients you need? That depends on your dietary intake and medical history. According to the FDA, most people can get the vitamins they need through the foods they eat.ii However, multivitamins can play a vital role when nutritional requirements cannot be met with food alone. For example, your doctor might recommend you take a multivitamin if you follow a restrictive diet, such as a vegan diet.iii And sometimes, we know how we should eat, but we don’t always eat as we should — this is situation in which a daily vitamin might be helpful.
Another factor to consider is age. Sometimes, older adults need more vitamins and minerals than younger adults too, so a dietary supplement might be a desirable option. Some examples of vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial to older adults include:iv
• Calcium, which helps support bone health
• Vitamin D, as our bodies may be less efficient at making vitamin D as we get older
• Vitamin B12, since our bodies may have a harder time absorbing this vitamin from food as we get older
The bottom line: older adults can get vitamins or nutrients through their diet. However, if you feel you could benefit from taking a daily vitamin, consult your doctor.