Should You Take Vitamins Individually or a Multivitamin?

Do you need to take additional vitamin supplements? Learn about the benefits and risks associated with taking individual vitamins versus multivitamins.

Should You Take Vitamins Individually or a Multivitamin?

In general, taking a multivitamin is a holistic approach to fill any nutrient gaps in the diet. However, taking an individual vitamin or mineral supplement might be better for a specific health problem. The single app for everything related to fitness, the spa, 26% of beauty salons, pharmacies and supermarkets dedicate aisles and several shelves to supplements of just about any vitamin or mineral you can think of. Even people who eat healthy can take a daily dose of capsules to improve bone health, increase iron intake, or regulate digestion.

While some supplements are appropriate for certain health conditions, others are tailored to general nutritional needs. Doctors may recommend that people with specific eating habits, such as vegans or vegetarians, or women who are breastfeeding or pregnant, take certain vitamins, but do they need to be taken if you don't fit into those categories and lead a fairly healthy lifestyle? Nearly half of the U. S. population takes vitamins every day, with multivitamins being the most popular option.

However, unless you have a severe vitamin deficiency, studies show that taking additional vitamin supplements might not provide the average person with any additional health benefits. An even more alarming statement is that these pills that we take every day could harm our body instead of helping it. Before you blow up another one, take a look at this data. A multivitamin complex provides the body with vitamins that are not ingested through the diet.

They can also treat vitamin deficiencies caused by illness, pregnancy, poor nutrition, or digestive disorders. If you don't belong to any of these categories, should you really accept them? First check with your doctor, who can determine if pre-existing medical conditions or medications you're already taking will interfere with how your body reacts to the multivitamin. People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may find it difficult to meet the daily recommendation for certain vitamins and minerals in their food alone. Some vegans find low levels of certain B vitamins that are found primarily in animal products.

In this case, a multivitamin can help ensure adequate nutrition. If multivitamins don't seem like the best option for you, should you go straight for specific individual vitamins? That's not the case. It is recommended that you only take these supplements if you know the specific vitamin deficiency you have. For example, women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant can prevent anemia by taking iron.

It's important to know what you're taking, as some supplements have mild to dangerous side effects if used incorrectly. While you may think that you can never have enough vitamins or that your body will easily get rid of everything it doesn't need, that's not true with certain varieties. Taking too much of a single vitamin or combining multivitamins, individual vitamins, fortified foods and your regular diet can turn into an overdose. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E are at greatest risk.

These can build up in the body and cause serious health problems, such as damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain. That's why it's best to ask your doctor what's safe to take. You might find that a well-balanced diet you're already practicing doesn't require any additional fortification with vitamins, or maybe what you thought you had in abundance might need a boost. If in doubt, ask your doctor.

Should you really throw away what's left of your medicine cabinet? Not quite, but you should check with your primary care provider before taking any additional supplements on your own. Evidence shows that taking vitamins provides little benefit to people who are already well nourished. The pills won't boost the immune system, promote joint health, or reduce stress, even if they promise they will. Unless you know you're deficient at certain levels, such as vegans or vegetarians who often lack vitamin B, leave supplements alone.

Taking too much of a certain vitamin, especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, could end up harming you. In addition, if you are taking multiple supplements with the same vitamins and minerals, in limited cases, you may end up taking more than you need which may introduce negative side effects or simply exceed your needs completely. The comparison of a multivitamin complex with individual vitamins (or minerals, phytonutrients or other functional complexes) is based on the assumption that multiple individual vitamins or nutrients - for example vitamin D3 and omega-3s - are mutually exclusive. Ideally you (and your health professional partner) should take full control of your supplement routine designing and customizing your own vitamin regimen for problem areas of nutritional insufficiency and the needs of the functional health support area.

The last part involves carefully selecting individual vitamins that are not normally found in certain multivitamins or for which a higher dose is nutritionally useful (i). It simply means taking advantage of specific stand-alone or complex supplements that are not a multivitamin for nutritional and general health*, explains Ferira. Vitamin D3 would be an excellent example of this since science shows that 5000 IU or more are needed daily for adults to achieve and maintain sufficiency. On the other hand another study involving men and women over 65 years old showed that taking a multivitamin reduced the risk of micronutrient deficiencies and helped improve cognitive functioning in people over 75 years old.