Are multivitamins worth the hype? The pros and cons of taking a multi supplement

October 31, 2023

Often referred to as expensive you-know-what, multivitamins are those rather large tablets that promise to make us healthier, more energetic, and maybe even invincible. 

While they may not make you invincible, multivitamins are said to provide a wealth of benefits to your wellbeing. But are they really worth the hype, or are they just another clever marketing ploy? Let’s dive into the wellbeing world of supplements and learn about the ins and outs of multivitamins and if they live up to the buzz. 


What should you look for in a multivitamin?

Let’s start with the most important point - what is it you’re looking to achieve with your multivitamin? Some companies will pack every single vitamin and mineral into a tablet, giving the appearance of being a true multivitamin. Sure, they’ve ticked every box - but some of these nutrients are in such infinitesimal amounts that they’re not actually giving you a whole lot of benefit. Some of the minerals included in a multi might already be easily found in the diet in high amounts, requiring no supplementation whatsoever. Whatever your body doesn’t use is excreted into the toilet - hence the belief that multivitamins are “expensive urine”. 


Thankfully, when clever formulators create multivitamins, they consider what nutrients are crucial and typically missing from the diet. From this, they can decide how much of each nutrient to add. Multivitamins are a classic case of less is more, so look for essential nutrients in high enough doses to actually make a difference.


Pros of taking a multivitamin


Pro #1: Convenience

One of the most attractive aspects of multivitamins is, of course, their convenience, They’re like a daily “insurance policy” for your nutritional wellbeing. No need to spend hours researching the perfect supplements. You’ll hit your nutrient requirements for a number of essential vitamins and minerals that are harder to obtain from diet alone.


Pro #2: Filling in the gaps

Let’s face it, we’re all prone to falling down in the diet department from time to time. Whether you’re a busy parent, travel for work, or you’re a time-poor student, we could all use a little extra help sometimes. Multivitamins can fill in the gaps, providing you with the essential vitamins and minerals that can be lacking when your diet isn’t up to scratch. There’s peace of mind in a multivitamin that you’ve done something good for your body that day. 


Pro #3: The health benefits 

Of course, the health benefits of meeting all your essential vitamin and mineral needs is one of the greatest pros of taking a multivitamin. If you’ve done your homework and you know your multivitamin includes many of the key nutrients that we’re missing out in (and in high enough amounts), you’re sure to feel the long-term benefits. 


Some of the most important nutrients found in multivitamins that people commonly experience deficiencies in include vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine. 


Now to the cons… 


Con #1: Overdoing it

Remember the saying “too much of a good thing”? Well, it applies to vitamins too! Overdoing it on certain vitamins and minerals can have negative consequences. For example, too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss, nausea, and even joint pain. Some nutrients are toxic at high doses, so exercise caution when taking other supplements at the same time and always follow the dosage instructions.


Con #2: One size does not fit all 

Multivitamins offer the “one size fits all” solution, but as mentioned above, we can often end up taking a lot of things we don’t need. Look for formulations that have less nutrients, but more of the ones that are harder to get in sufficient quantities through diet alone. 


Con #3: Not all multivitamins are created equal

Here’s the kicker: not all companies mention what else goes into their vitamins. While you might think you’re getting a multivitamin at a good price, the quality simply may not be there. Not only that, but many formulators will choose a “form” of the vitamin that is cheaper and poorly absorbed in the gut, even potentially causing unwanted side effects like gastrointestinal upset. To reap the benefits, choose a high-quality multivitamin that contains the right nutrients in their best forms such as glycinate and citrate, as well as food-sourced nutrients that are easily assimilated.  



So, are multivitamins worth the hype? The verdict is…it all depends. Assessing your needs and the quality of the multivitamin at hand will determine whether your multivitamin is a hit or a miss. Remember, no matter how much of an insurance policy your multivitamin is, the foundation to great health is always a healthy diet filled with fresh produce and little to no processed, packaged foods and takeaways. 


The takeaway: A multivitamin can certainly be a beneficial supplement when you choose one that is high quality and with nutrients you actually need.