Originally posted on https://ilixer.com/blogs/diet/the-multivitamin-lie-why-are-there-vitamin-powders-in-my-food.
The use of multivitamins increased tremendously in the 2000s and they’re considered the most commonly used supplement in the world. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21592424).
At the most basic level, the purpose of a multivitamin is to provide our bodies with the essential vitamins and minerals we don’t get from our diet. For example, maybe we don’t eat enough cruciferous vegetables, so we’re lacking Vitamin K, or perhaps we did not eat any sour fruits, so we’re short on Vitamin C.
The multivitamin provides both Vitamin K and Vitamin C so we think our bases are covered. Instead of eating Kale, we’re getting our Vitamin K from the vitamin, same idea for Vitamin C, etc. However, a problem arises: why do studies not find the same health benefits between consuming multivitamins compared to following a diet of food rich in essential vitamins and minerals?
See for yourself:
- “An analysis of research involving 450,000 people, which found that multivitamins did not reduce risk for heart disease or cancer” (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/is-there-really-any-benefit-to-multivitamins).
- “[M]ultivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, cardiovascular disease or total mortality in postmenopausal women.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3868488/)
- “A meta-analysis of cohort studies following 469,551 participants found that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease” (https://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4490.full.pdf+html).
- “[W]omen who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day (especially cruciferous and yellow/orange vegetables) had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate 2.5 or fewer servings” (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ijc.31653).
Certain vitamins are essential to the human body’s function. Because our diet does not contain enough essential vitamins, the multivitamin’s purpose is to supplement our diet with essential vitamins and minerals.
However, there are at least 27 essential vitamins and minerals. 27 sounds like a lot right?
How are we supposed to keep track of our daily diet to know that we’re receiving 27 essential vitamins and minerals? It’s a tough task and it is one of the reasons for the multivitamin’s surge in popularity.