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Why should you take a multivitamin?

Medically reviewed on May 13, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. 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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With a busy routine and a demanding daily schedule, it can be hard to keep health top-of-mind. Fortunately, a daily multivitamin can pack a full day’s worth of micronutrients into a small tablet.

Even still, you might be asking, “Why take a multivitamin?”

A daily multivitamin isn’t a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle, but it is a way to ensure better overall wellness and fill in the nutritional gaps in one’s diet. This guide will take you through 6 crucial ways multivitamins can benefit you and explain why a dietary supplement may be right for you. (Note that you can now shop Everlywell Vitamins and Supplements here.)

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1. Avoid dietary deficiencies

Individual vitamins come, first and foremost, from foods that you eat. Fruits, vegetables, and enriched grains are all excellent sources of vitamins, and they work together to support an overall healthy diet. Choose nutrient-rich foods and try to make your plate as diverse as possible to maximize dietary benefits.

While many Americans enjoy healthy living and eating a balanced diet, ensuring you receive a full dose of daily vitamins can be a bit tricky. If you’re concerned that your diet isn’t providing you with all the micronutrients you need, a multivitamin can help bolster the body.

Without a regular supply of essential vitamins, you may face vitamin deficiencies, including:

  • Vitamin B6 deficiency – This water-soluble B vitamin is common in fish, meat, and various vegetables. If you’re not finding enough in your diet, you may begin to experience problems with cognitive function, skin issues, or a weakened immune system [1].
  • Vitamin D deficiency – The body absorbs vitamin D through the skin; a lack of exposure to sunlight or an untreated medical issue can lead to a deficiency. Prolonged deficiency may result in muscle and bone weakness and is associated with other serious conditions such as diabetes and/or high blood pressure [2].
  • Vitamin C deficiency – If your diet lacks fruits and vegetables, you may be more likely to develop a vitamin C deficiency. Also known as “scurvy,” a vitamin C deficiency may result in gum disease, skin problems, or anemia [3].

Multivitamins provide a reliable method to avoid nutrient gaps and potential vitamin deficiencies. With daily vitamin supplementation, you can rest more easily knowing that some of these deficiencies may be covered.

2. Protect your teeth

Brushing, flossing, and proper diet are the cornerstones of good oral hygiene, but did you know a vitamin supplement can provide a little extra help for those missing out on key micronutrients?

Vitamin A is found in nearly all multivitamins and is an essential component of dental health. Additionally, it promotes the following healthy functions, including [4]:

  • Tissue growth
  • Immune functions
  • Skeletal development
  • Eye development

Vitamin A comes in two forms:

  • Retinol – Often found in dairy products, organ meats, and fortified grains.
  • Provitamin A carotenoids – A plant-based form found in fruits and vegetables.

Taking multivitamins is not a replacement for proper dental care. Be sure to use caution when taking vitamin A since it can cause serious side effects when taken in high doses. You may also experience an adverse reaction when taken alongside various medications. Always follow label instructions and healthcare recommendations when adding vitamin A supplements to your diet.

3. Support your immune system

If you’re looking to feel your best, you’ll want an immune system that’s prepared for the worst. Your immune system is the body's defense mechanism against viruses and bacteria. From your skin to your blood cells, various biological systems work in tandem to keep out harmful germs and keep you healthy; vitamin C is an important part of that system [5].

A daily multivitamin may offer increased immune protection by supplying your body with a full daily dose of vitamin C.

To gain a better understanding of how vitamin C works to strengthen the immune system, consider the following:

  • Cellular function – Vitamin C works within the cells to maintain important immune functions, allowing cells to adapt to and defend against illness [6].
  • Skin barrier – Many toxins enter your body through the skin. By supplying your system with enough vitamin C, you can strengthen your skin’s barrier against pathogens and toxins in the environment.

Vitamin C is most frequently found in foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries. If you find it difficult to fulfill your vitamin C requirements simply through your diet, a multivitamin is a logical choice to provide the body with immune-fighting essential nutrients.

4. Improve your skin health

Skin health is about more than looking your best—though that’s certainly an added benefit. Your skin health is determined by what you put in your body and what you keep out of it.

Quality foods, exercise, and avoiding harmful chemicals (including smoke and harsh skin products) are all essential ingredients for skin that looks and feels healthy. Furthermore, a daily multivitamin can aid your skin when combined with an overall healthy lifestyle.

When it comes to what to look for in a multivitamin for skin health, key vitamins include:

  • Niacin – Not only does this B vitamin assist your body when transforming food into energy, but it also aids in skin and nerve function. Niacin is water-soluble, and your body requires constant replenishment of it through foods or vitamin supplements [7].
  • Vitamin C – Expect more than an immune system boost from vitamin C. This essential vitamin also helps maintain proper skin and tissue functions. If you’re recovering from a physical injury or a recent surgery, you may look to supplement your standard vitamin C dosage to optimize the process.
  • Biotin – Responsible for skin, hair, and nails, biotin helps form the enzymes responsible for breaking down fats and carbohydrates and turning them into energy [8]. A lack of biotin may result in brittle nails, thinning hair, and unpleasant skin problems.

Before you opt for another skin product or cleanse, consider examining your diet and vitamin regimen to see where there might be room for improvement. Multivitamins aren’t just a way to ensure internal health; they’re a crucial component of your exterior health and appearance, too.

5. Increase your energy levels

If you’re feeling tired, sluggish, or fatigued, it might be time to reassess your nutrition. Low energy levels can be a symptom of nearly any illness or medical problem, but exhaustion can also be a sign that your body is lacking critical vitamins.

Do multivitamins give you energy? Vitamins—particularly C and B vitamins—are associated with physical and cognitive functions. That means a few days without these necessary substances could leave you feeling tired and worn out.

How do vitamins provide your body with energy? Consider their role in the following bodily functions:

  • Extracting energy – Food is your fuel. The calories you consume are broken down by various enzymes and turned into energy to keep you alive and active. Every moment, your body uses energy to pump blood, digest food, and stimulate the electrochemical processes of the brain. Without vitamins, this process becomes slower and more difficult, sometimes resulting in fatigue.
  • Oxygen delivery – When you breathe, blood cells move oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and brain to allow for movement and thought. The process of moving oxygenated blood throughout the body requires several B vitamins (along with iron). Without a proper vitamin supply, the blood will not adequately circulate oxygen. Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream may result in weakness and fatigue [9].
  • Nervous system function – The nervous system is a highly complex system of electrochemical signals in communication with one another. These communications happen through neurotransmitters—the body's chemical messengers [9]. To create and maintain neurotransmitters, the body requires vitamins and minerals. If you’re lacking essential vitamins, the body may struggle with various cognitive functions, leaving you feeling impaired [9].

While a multivitamin is always an option to ensure a full spectrum of health benefits, it may not be able to treat the underlying problems related to fatigue. When making your choice, avoid multivitamins that advertise “energy-boosting” additives such as caffeine, and consult with your healthcare provider before making a change to your daily routine.

6. Support healthy aging

As you grow older, the body may begin to demand more from you, nutritionally speaking. Many people may look for ways to keep their bodies fit and healthy over the years, and once you reach the age of 50, you may need to consider a multivitamin designed for your needs.

As you age, you may be more concerned about wellness needs, such as:

  • Bone health – Vitamin D works with calcium to preserve bone health. By consuming fortified milk and grain products and introducing a daily multivitamin to your diet, you could be better equipped to handle the demands of your bones as you age.
  • Red blood cells and nerve health – Absorbing vitamin B12 becomes more difficult over time for many older adults [10]. B12 is a crucial part of healthy blood and nerve health. With a multivitamin supplement and a healthy diet, you can ensure you’re getting enough B12 daily. Vegans and vegetarians may also benefit from supplemental B12 in their diets.

Medical professionals may recommend additional supplements on top of a daily vitamin if they believe you’re at risk of an age-related deficiency. As always, recommendations will vary depending on one’s age, sex, and medical history.

A monthly Everlywell subscription for the nutrient(s) of your choice is now available, including the following options:

Everlywell Vitamins & Supplements are here! Meet the new nutritional essentials for a healthier you

Multivitamin benefits: key points to know

Do multivitamins give you energy?

What to look for in a multivitamin

When is the best time to take multivitamins?


References

1. Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

2. Vitamin D Deficiency. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

3. Scurvy. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

4. Vitamin A. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

5. Immune System and Disorders. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

6. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017 Nov 3;9(11):1211.

7. Niacin. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

8. Biotin. MedlinePlus. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

9. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):228.

10. Dietary Supplements for Older Adults. National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed May 13, 2022.

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