Do Multivitamins Work To Make You Healthy?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Created to support health and wellness, many people turn to multivitamins to fill in dietary gaps, support specific organs and systems, and even as a way of staying younger, longer. Multivitamins are a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.
The FDA doesn’t regulate multivitamins, so what’s actually inside varies from label to label. It can also be unclear whether or not your multivitamin is actually benefiting you. After all, if you aren’t deficient in the vitamin you’re taking, do you really need to take it?
Before you swallow another handful of vitamins, let’s talk about whether or not they’re actually working to make you healthy.
First, let’s define what “healthy” really means.
What Does Being Healthy Mean?
We all have different definitions of what it means to be healthy. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
In other words, being healthy means every aspect of your physical and mental health is in a state of balance and homeostasis, not gradually declining.
We define physical health by health markers that give us clear indications of what’s going on inside our bodies.
Some of the tests that give us a baseline for our overall physical health are:
- Blood pressure
- Fasting glucose
- Body Mass Index, or “BMI”
These tests tell us a lot about the physical state of our bodies. When one of these tests is abnormal, we are at higher risk for becoming unhealthy and developing disease.
Mental health can be more difficult to measure. Someone may be physically healthy and seem “okay” while still suffering from mental illness.
As such, there are a number of methods psychiatrists use to determine whether or not a person is mentally well.
There’s also some overlap here. A physical illness may cause a person to experience a decline in mental health, especially if the physical illness doesn’t allow them to enjoy the same lifestyle they are used to.
Additionally, some physical illnesses can cause disorders related to mood and stress that can cause a person to become mentally unhealthy.
Social health is multifaceted. It includes an individual’s ability to respond to social situations healthfully. Social health involves a feeling of contribution to society as well as the ability to provide for oneself.
To live a healthful life, physical, mental, and social health must all be balanced and functioning properly. When there’s an issue with one facet of your total health, you will experience illness or declining health.
What Causes Us To Be Unhealthy
There are numerous causes for us to have a decline in health. Here are some of the most common.
It goes without saying that disease can make us unhealthy, but it is possible to have a disease and maintain health.
For instance, a person who suffers from alcoholism can live healthfully if they avoid alcohol and maintain recovery.
Some diseases rob us of our overall health and wellness. Aside from more obvious diseases like cancer, some diseases take a negative toll on our health over time.
These can include:
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
These types of diseases can place us at a higher risk of developing heart disease, and can significantly impact our total health.
Lack of Exercise
Like anything, the body must be cared for if it is to be maintained. Exercising is important for physical and mental health. Exercise increases your heart health, supports brain health, and improves your mood.
A lack of exercise can cause weight gain, depression, and even place you at a higher risk of developing diseases.
An imbalanced diet can lead to negative health markers and even nutrient deficiency. In fact, many people begin taking a multivitamin because they worry they are deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral.
Getting older doesn’t make you unhealthy, but our risk for disease increases as we get older. Our bodies are made of cells. These cells make up organs which make up systems that keep us healthy and functioning.
As we get older, our cells become fragile and begin to break down. When this happens, our organ function begins to decline, and entire systems in our body can become unbalanced, leaving us feeling tired and opening the door for age-related disease.
At this point, we usually turn to a multivitamin.
How Do Multivitamins Work?
Multivitamins work by giving our bodies an extra dose of vitamins or minerals our body needs. Because our bodies absorb vitamins and minerals better from food, multivitamins normally contain a higher dose of the vitamin than we actually need.
Additionally, multivitamins may not contain exactly what you think they contain. Because the FDA doesn’t regulate vitamins as closely as it does prescription medications, they may not contain the exact amounts of vitamins they claim to on their packaging label.
There’s also a question as to how the vitamins and minerals contained in a multivitamin are sourced. They may be more or less effective for your body depending on how and where they were sourced.
Ideally, when you take a multivitamin, you’ll get exactly what the label says you’re getting, and your body will be able to use it efficiently. However, that won’t necessarily make you healthy.
Why Multivitamins May Not Make You Healthy By Default
We’ve already talked about what makes a person healthy. There are multiple factors that keep you healthy, and unfortunately, there’s just no magic pill that will cause you to become healthy if you are unhealthy and live an unhealthy lifestyle..
Maintaining health involves eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of exercise, proper sleep, and taking care of your mental and social health. Taking a multivitamin cannot single-handedly correct a deficiency in one of these areas.
In fact, research suggests that taking a multivitamin every day has very little significant health impact, unless you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral.
What Multivitamins Can Do
Just because a multivitamin won’t make you healthy doesn’t mean it still isn’t a good idea to take one. If you have a vitamin deficiency (which can be determined by a simple blood test) your doctor may tell you to take a multivitamin.
Multivitamins can fill in dietary gaps for people on limited diets, like veganism or vegetarianism. Multivitamins can also benefit pregnant people. Folic acid, for instance, is essential for healthy brain and neural tube development, so pregnant people are advised to take folic acid during their pregnancies.
Other than that, there’s really nothing a multivitamin can do for you. If you eat a balanced diet, you’ll typically get all the necessary vitamins and minerals you need from your food.
Still looking for a way to support your total health?
While it’s true we get the vitamins and minerals we need from the foods we eat, there are still ways to supplement our health that are worthwhile and effective. Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0, is an odd-chained, saturated fatty acid that an increasing body of research suggests may be the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.†
For a fatty acid to be essential, it means our bodies need it to be healthy, but can’t make it on its own. That means we have to get it from the foods we eat, or from a supplement.
C15:0 is primarily found only in trace amounts in full fat dairy, so it can be very difficult to get enough C15:0 in your diet without getting a lot of unhealthy, even-chained fats, too. As such, the best way to take C15:0 may be in supplement form.
How C15:0 Supports Your Health
C15:0 is a fascinating fatty acid with the ability to dive deep into your cells and fortify them, protecting them against fragility and external stressors.* C15:0 helps support your wellness by increasing your cellular health.*
Remember we talked about how our health begins on the cellular level? Because our health begins with our cells, it makes sense that the best way to support our health is by taking care of our cells.
C15:0 supports your cells by:*
- Strengthening cell membranes to protect them and keep them durable.
- Supporting mitochondrial function so your cells have enough energy to carry out their daily processes.
- C15:0 also helps support your health by binding to PPAR receptors in your brain and body that control functions like sleep, mood, immunity, metabolism, and even appetite.
With C15:0, you are able to give your cells a fighting chance to maintain optimal health.*
Multivitamins aren’t necessarily bad for you, but they probably aren’t helping you much unless you’ve been directed by your doctor to take them for a deficiency. If you eat a balanced diet, you’ll generally get the majority of your essential vitamins and minerals from food sources.
If you truly want to be more proactive about your health, consider taking the only C15:0 supplement that helps support your body at the cellular level.* Fatty15 is a once a day capsule that contains FA15™, the vegan-friendly and pure powder form of C15:0.
Together with diet and exercise, fatty15 can help you give your cells and your body a fighting chance to fend off age-related illness and live a healthy, happy life.*
Multivitamins: Market Size Worldwide|StatistaMen's Health Do Multivitamins Make You Healthier|Harvard Health
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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