Eating a variety of whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables while getting 1,200 calories or more a day supplies all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. So do you really need to be taking those multivitamins you picked up at the health-food store? In a perfect world where everyone ate as they should, we could say no. As it is, there are plenty of reasons to take a multivitamin, but there are also pitfalls to avoid.
There have been multiple studies done in recent years that discourage people from taking vitamins. They have shown the vitamins found in stores to be ineffective at preventing diseases and some even made the risks go up for heart conditions and even cancer. This is because most of the multivitamins you pick up in stores are not what they seem. They are not the same ones you would find in those fruits and veggies. One of the secrets of the health food world is that most vitamins found in tablets, pills, and capsules are drastically different and can have dangerous side effects.
So the short answer is yes, you do need vitamins, but no, you do not need to be taking the ones you’ve been taking. The vitamins in most multivitamins are synthetic. They are created in laboratories from ingredients that might surprise you. You would expect whole foods to be going into the creation of vitamins, but what we have are petroleum byproducts, coal tar, hydrochloric acid, acetylene, acetone, and the unappetizing list goes on and on.
Scientists claim these synthetic vitamins are just as good, but studies and common sense say otherwise. Most are, in truth, fairly similar to the vitamins we find in our food, but they are in forms that are not found in nature, crystals when they are not crystalline in plants, combined with other compounds that are more shelf stable than the organic ones that are more readily affected by heat, light, and oxygen. Sometimes they are even combined with known toxins like cyanide. No wonder our bodies don’t react well to them.
Look closely at your vitamins and their ingredients. Most of us do need more vitamins in our diets. We aren’t eating well. We are overstressed and burning through resources faster than we should, we eat foods we know will cause problems for us down the line, or we grab quick food that is little more than calories without any nutritional value. We could use a boost, but we need that boost to come from something we recognize. Pick up more organic fruits and vegetables and grab yourself a multivitamin that relies on whole food sources for the vitamins. Look for actual plant names. Avoid the “ates” and “acids” and “HCL” that pop up on the labels and you will see value, not just waste your money and your health.