Hands up if you are taking a multivitamin supplement to help with energy? Chances are, you are amongst a large proportion of health-conscious people who said ‘yes’.
When you are busy with work, family, social commitments, and life in general, it can feel like a challenge to maintain a healthy diet and obtain all the nutrients you need from food alone so why not take a multivitamin for good measure?
In my clinic, I see many clients who are taking a multivitamin in the hope that it will balance out any shortfalls in their diet and also for a bit of an energy boost. When you are feeling low on energy, this may seem like a sensible thing to do.
But will taking a multivitamin really boost your energy? You may be surprised by my answer: NO
I have two issues with multivitamins:
- They may be jammed packed with vitamins and minerals ‘from A to Z’ but the amounts are approximately 20% of our recommended dietary intake. If you have a deficiency of any sort these small amounts are not going to help it. You will need a specific supplement with a high dose of that vitamin/mineral to correct the deficiency.
- Most of them are synthetically made and the cheaper they are the cheaper the quality is. Reading the back of a multivitamin bottle can be as overwhelming as reading a food label. Numbers everywhere but what do they actually mean?! Some forms of vitamins (i.e magnesium oxide) have a 4% absorption rate due to its poor quality.
Let’s look at a couple of nutrients which every multivitamin supplement contains and how you just won’t be getting any benefits:
If you find it’s an effort to get through the day, click here to read about my top 5 nutrients to boost your energy. One of these nutrients is magnesium, a mineral which is vital for energy production in the body. It also helps to prevent muscle cramps and spasms, increases your resilience to stress, and mineralises your bones. The Australian Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of magnesium is around 400mg. To obtain this amount of magnesium, you would have to eat 16 cups of spinach or 120 raw almonds. And even then, your body would only absorb a proportion of the magnesium from those foods. If you have digestive issues such as IBS, the amount of nutrients you absorb from your food decreases further. Most multivitamin supplements contain between 40mg and 100mg of magnesium, but unfortunately it’s often in a form that is not readily absorbed by the body.
Antioxidant Vitamin C
Most people appreciate the benefits of vitamin C to ward off colds and other viruses. But this essential vitamin is also a natural antihistamine( useful for hives and hay fever), helps with wound healing, and is required for the absorption of iron which is another crucial mineral when it comes to energy production. Click here to learn about the symptoms of iron deficiency and what affects your iron levels.
Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant which prevents oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals from pollutants, food, water and medications etc cause cellular damage and deplete the body of energy.
The Australian RDI for vitamin C is 45mg which most multivitamin supplements do contain. However, a nutrient’s RDI is merely the absolute minimum which must be obtained in order to prevent illness. A multivitamin will not provide a therapeutic dose of vitamin C, which is needed to reap the full benefits of this nutrient. It’s important to take into account certain factors which increase our demand for vitamin C such as poor digestion, inflammation in the body, cigarette smoke, stress, and even exercise.
The bottom line
In the world of supplements, one size does not fit all. Particularly when it comes to increasing energy and combating fatigue, a multivitamin just isn’t enough to make difference.
The best way to take a ‘multivitamin’ is to ensure you are eating a range vegetables and fruits, lean organic meats, fish and seafood, eggs, legumes, some grains and nuts and seeds.