Are multivitamins safe to take?
Yes, it is safe to take a daily multivitamin, according to
Harvard’s School of Public Health (HSPH), contrary to some recent reports.
What’s more, HSPH says that taking a multivitamin/multimineral supplement “offers
safe, simple micronutrient insurance.”
HSPC blames the confusion on grave flaws in numerous multivitamin studies with negative
conclusions. HSPH says many study participants were already seriously ill before
entering the studies. Another major problem is the inability to accurately compare
the different supplement types and amounts used by participants. And study participants
took their separate products for different periods of time — not very scientific!
HSPH says, though we’re still learning about optimal nutrient intake, “the potential
health benefits of taking a standard daily multivitamin appear to outweigh the potential
risks for most people.”
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Do you wonder if you should be taking a multivitamin
every day? Most of us already know that we need certain raw materials in consistent
amounts to fuel all of our biological mechanisms. This never-ending nutritional
requirement becomes more critical as you go through life.
Essential nutrition includes macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates and fat — that
you get from food. It also includes micronutrients — vitamins and minerals — as
well as essential fatty acids (EFAs). Since your body can’t make EFAs on its own,
you have to get them from foods such as fish. In the case of omega-3 EFAs, it might
be a challenge to eat enough fish to get an adequate supply every day.
It’s hard to get micronutrients from food alone
Only in theory can the food you eat supply the amounts of micronutrients your body
needs daily. Much of our standard diet is “micronutrient-poor” and is missing many
— or all — of the essential vitamins and minerals. Often, micronutrients are processed
right out of foods when manufacturers and chain restaurants produce convenience
meals and fast foods.
Over recent decades, changes to the way foods are grown and raised have reduced
micronutrient content. You can also miss out on key nutrition if you’re trying to
lose weight by restricting certain foods or by skipping breakfast or lunch. But
since our bodies still need these essential nutrients, many of us turn to vitamins.
Without enough essential vitamins and minerals your body struggles to keep up
Even though the micronutrient amounts you need are tiny, when you don’t get enough
of each every day, your body will let you know. Whether it’s in the form of illness,
reduced or altered immune function, or worse, micronutrient deficiencies are a real
threat to your health.
Around the world, deficiencies of commonly available vitamins and minerals continue
to jeopardize the health of countless people, especially children whose bodies and
brains are still developing. But even in the US, plenty of women are not getting
important nutrients every day. They may simply not be eating right or could have
problems absorbing specific nutrients.
Every essential nutrient has a vital task and each one usually works with another
— or several others. For example, vitamin E works better alongside vitamin C. Calcium
is absorbed much better when taken with magnesium. That’s why the best multivitamins
are comprehensive and formulated to ensure you benefit from the synergistic effect
of all the nutrients working together.
Are the Recommended Daily Allowances enough?
Required Daily Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals were created after WWII
to prevent extreme diseases like scurvy and rickets. But RDAs were meant to be bare
minimums, not optimal dosages. That’s why RDAs are not a good guide today for women
who want to use supplemental nutrition for wellness and disease prevention.
One thing we do know: significantly higher doses of vitamins and minerals are needed
for optimal health than what is recommended in the RDAs. A study in the Journal
of the American Medical Association set therapeutic dosages many times higher than
the RDAs. While the guidance on micronutrient dosing is still evolving, we recommend
a conservative but therapeutic dose based on the latest nutritional science — not
too much, but enough.
The best women’s multivitamin — qualities to look for
Deciding on a brand of multivitamin can be overwhelming due to the wide range of
choices available at the store and online. To narrow your search, look for these
1. Complete and natural. Based on the latest nutritional
science, women need at least 30 essential vitamins and minerals. Look for multivitamins
without artificial preservatives, dyes, sweeteners or other contaminants.
2. Bioavailable. ”Bioavailability” measures what’s
truly absorbed by the body. To ensure nutrients get through the digestive tract,
high-quality vitamins are tied to another molecule — or chelated — so they move
into the bloodstream where they can be absorbed. The best have minimal processing
because over-processing can destroy the ingredients’ nutritional value.
3. Manufactured safely, laboratory-tested and guaranteed.
Like pharmaceutical drugs, every batch of a nutritional supplement should be tested
in a laboratory to ensure it contains exactly what’s on its label. Look for vitamins
that are manufactured in a facility validated by NSF International (National Sanitation
Foundation) to meet or exceed government requirements for the FDA’s Good Manufacturing
Practices (GMPs). And buy from a company that guarantees your satisfaction with
4. Makes a difference. If your nutritional supplement
doesn’t make you feel better within the first 30-60 days, try a different one. Your
symptoms may not be fully resolved during that time, but you should feel a real
If you’ve tried a multivitamin before without positive results, it’s probably because
you took ordinary vitamins that didn’t have the full range of necessary nutrients.
Or, you may have chosen a low-priced or discount vitamin that’s cheaper because
it contains nutrient forms that aren’t very absorbable. One common issue: you may
not have taken your multivitamin regularly simply because you forgot to.
People who take multivitamins are generally healthier and tend to lead wellness-supporting
lifestyles. When you
take a multivitamin, try to make a habit of it so your body gets the essential
micronutrients in consistent amounts every day. We think you’ll like the way you
Your body needs
essential micronutrients EVERY DAY
Formulated just for women with 30 key vitamins and minerals.
- Easy-to-swallow capsules
- Simple dosing
- Complete, natural and bioavailable
Essential Nutrients supplies the raw materials your body needs daily.
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 20107:24. https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-24.
Accessed 5.03.16 J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Apr;116(4):667-676.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.021.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26899193. Accessed 5.03.16 http://www.cdc.gov/immpact/micronutrients/