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Are multivitamins good for you?

Medically reviewed on September 9, 2022 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Perhaps you saw a TV commercial for a multivitamin manufacturer, or a neighbor recently recommended their favorite supplement brand. Maybe you’ve just started a more restrictive eating plan and are worried about your overall vitamin and mineral intake.

If you have limited experience with nutrition and vitamin supplements, you may be wondering—are multivitamins good for you? Do multivitamins help build the immune system? Can they actually make a noticeable difference in your health?

Whether you’re a bona fide wellness guru or you’ve recently embarked on a journey to better self-care, this guide can help you decide whether a multivitamin is right for you. We'll discuss a few benefits of adding a multivitamin to your regimen. And we'll break down potential risks and review what you should do before taking a multivitamin.

3 benefits of taking a multivitamin

Your body needs these thirteen essential vitamins:

  • Vitamins A
  • Vitamin B (there are numerous from the B vitamin family, like B9 or folic acid, vitamin B12, and B6)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

While your body can produce vitamins D and K (unless you have a preexisting health condition), most people get the other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need by maintaining a healthy, varied diet [1].

But even if you generally eat well, you could benefit from adding a multivitamin in the following ways:

  • Supporting lifestyle choices – You eat well, and you exercise indoors, but you try to avoid sun exposure—an effort that can decrease your risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer [2]. But limiting sun time could end up decreasing your vitamin D production. A multivitamin could help you address this problem.
  • Bolstering dietary choices – If you eat little or no meat, you might be missing out on key vitamins found in meat content, like vitamin B12 (prevalence of B12 deficiency ranges from 3% among people aged 20–39 and 6% for people aged 60 or over) [3]. Or, if you have an allergy to citrus, you could experience a vitamin C deficiency (which is estimated to affect about 7% of the United States population [4]). A multivitamin may help you get the necessary vitamins, even with a limited diet.
  • Addressing deficiencies – Perhaps you have a health condition that decreases your ability to absorb vitamins from food or produce vitamins D and K on your own. If this is the case, talk to a healthcare provider about adding a multivitamin to address your deficiency.

Are there any risks when taking a multivitamin?

There are two main risks to consider when taking a multivitamin:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Vitamin overdose or high doses

Before you start a multivitamin, read the label carefully, and consider consulting with your healthcare provider about your change in routine. If you’re allergic to any ingredients listed, choose a different manufacturer or talk to a healthcare provider about your options. If you have an unexpected allergic reaction like hives, itching, rash, or watery eyes, seek medical attention right away [5].

Take care to stay within the recommended vitamin and supplement doses published by trusted sources like the US Food and Drug Administration [6]. Some vitamins could pose a risk of toxicity, and the most important ones to consider (and their symptoms) include [7]:

  • Iron (vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, low blood pressure)
  • Calcium (confusion, nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat)
  • Vitamin D (high calcium levels in the blood)
  • Vitamin A (dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, yellowing of skin)

What should you do before you start taking a multivitamin?

The best way to avoid the risks of taking multivitamins in excess and reap all of the potential wellness benefits is to adequately prepare before you add new substances to your daily regimen:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about your health and wellness needs and goals. They can help you assess your current health and create a customized plan that works for you.
  • Confirm your allergies. Take careful notes of the allergies you already know about, and consider taking a food allergy test or indoor and outdoor allergy test. Choose multivitamin dietary supplements that don't contain any allergens.
  • Create a plan for taking your multivitamin dietary supplements every day. Will you use a pill case? Set the alarm on your smartphone as a reminder. Remember that consistency is key, no matter what method works best for you.

Are multivitamins worth it?

As of 2022, there’s only one large-scale, long-term study of the impacts of multivitamin supplementation—the Physicians’ Health Study II. In this study, a large group of male physicians took either a multivitamin or a placebo pill every day for more than a decade [8].

The results are mixed, showing modest reductions in:

  • Cancer risks and cases (some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of antioxidant vitamins may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. However, the FDA does not endorse this claim because this evidence is limited and not conclusive.)
  • Cataracts

But so far, the study doesn’t show any protection against:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Declining mental function

That said, vitamins are safe—and they can still help you meet your wellness goals under certain circumstances. Discussing your needs with a healthcare provider is the best way to determine if a daily multivitamin is worth it for you.

Reach your wellness goals with Everlywell

Taking multivitamins can benefit people who choose restrictive eating plans that cause nutritional deficiency, make certain lifestyle choices, or experience vitamin deficiencies.*

But like any essential vitamin supplement, multivitamins can carry risks, and are not suitable for everyone. Depending on your circumstances, it’s also important to understand what vitamins should not be taken together. The best way to determine if a multivitamin is right for you is to discuss it with a health professional.

What vitamins should I take daily? If a daily multivitamin is a right move for your personal wellness plan, check out the multivitamin gummy available at Everlywell.

But here at Everlywell, we’re so much more than a supplement brand—we offer professional medical advice, information about common wellness topics, and a wide array of at-home testing products to help you take control of your self-care.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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  1. Vitamins. MedlinePlus. URL. Last updated April 2, 2015. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  2. Sun protection. American Academy of Dermatology Association. URL. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  3. Shipton MJ, Thachil J. Vitamin B12 deficiency - A 21st century perspective . Clin Med (Lond). 2015;15(2):145-150. doi:10.7861/clinmedicine.15-2-145
  4. Vitamin C Deficiency. StatPearls [Internet]. URL. Last updated July 4, 2022. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  5. Allergic reactions. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  6. Daily Value on the New Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. URL. Last updated February 25, 2022. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  7. Multiple vitamin overdose. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed September 9, 2022.
  8. Do multivitamins make you healthier? Harvard Health Publishing. URL. Published April 7, 2022. Accessed September 9, 2022.
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