I'm sure you've heard the arguments that can range from "It's good 'insurance'!" to "It's just expensive pee!" or "I bet Dr Baker takes one!" So what do you do?
Even if you decide to try a multivitamin, where do you start? Do you want a tablet, powder, liquid, capsule, or even a gummy. Oh, and the claims: improve health, increased vitality, sleep better, improve performance (there's a can of worms for ya...), compensate for poor eating habits, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, etc. Then, how much do you need? Should you save money and buy from your local bulk item superstore and purchase the 6 month, 5 gallon supply?! Obviously there are a variety of different multivitamins targeting many different groups, whether it's by gender, age, or heck, even your dog!
Multivitamins contain dozens of essential vitamins and minerals. The label will tell you the amount and % of the daily value (DV) for each vitamin and mineral. The range of DV can be significant; for example, Centrum Adults, a common multivitamin, can range from 2% to 250% DV for individual ingredients.
It all sounds great, right?! Not so fast, my friend. Vitamins and mineral can have toxic effects if consumed in excessive quantities. While some nutrients are water-soluble, meaning they can be excreted by your urine, others are stored in your body and they can build up in large quantities. When it comes to essential vitamin and/or mineral, more is not always better, as toxicity can ensue if taken beyond recommended doses. Caution should be advised that there is potential for interactions with prescription medications, particularly blood thinners.
Also, be aware that supplements do NOT have to be registered or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Clinic trials are NOT required prior to your multivitamin or supplement making it to your medicine cabinet. In some cases, the vendor may not even provide all of the listed nutrients. So, Caveat Emptor, or if your Latin is rusty, "Let the buyer beware!"
So once again, what do you do? The bottom line is that a multivitamin should generally be safe if taken as directed, but any multivitamin has potential to be toxic if consumed in excessive quantities. The good news is that if you have a healthy well-rounded, balanced diet, you probably don't even need a multivitamin. If you do choose to take a multivitamin, and to ensure you are getting what you're paying for, it is recommended you purchase from a reputable manufacturer.
As with most things, every case is as individual as you are, so please discuss with your healthcare provider prior to multivitamin use.
Nathan Franke, PA-C
Nathan was raised in Nebraska and received his undergraduate degree from University of Nebraska. He furthered his studies and completed his Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Georgia. He then went on to work as a clinical exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation for seven years in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Nathan decided to climb the clinical ladder and advanced his education and completed a Master's in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona. Nathan has extensive experience in the field of spine and pain management for a combined 8+ years. He has assisted in surgical spine cases, in addition to his current focus on spine and pain management.
Outside of the office, Nathan enjoys time with family (and pet), exercising, and taking advantage of Arizona's great weather and spending time outdoors.