We’re often asked about the benefits of individual vitamin supplements compared to multivitamins and if there is any real difference. Vitamins are nutrients that our bodies cannot make and so it is essential that your body has a regular and adequate intake to ensure optimal health.
As nutritionists and food scientists, we always say that the bulk of your nutrients should be obtained from eating organic fresh produce including plenty of fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and high-quality protein. However, in reality, we know all too well that in today’s fast-paced world, it’s not always possible to consistently eat a healthy balanced diet. Taking a high-quality supplement can help bridge the nutritional gap, prevent deficiency, and promote optimal health and vibrancy throughout life.
Here are some of the reasons you might need to take a multivitamin:
- You are eating a very limited diet, your appetite is poor or you are eating less than usual
- You are following a restricted diet for longer than one week, for example you are on a weight-loss diet or on a prescribed diet, such as a liquid diet after surgery
- You have a condition that reduces your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, for example coeliac disease or ulcerative colitis
- You temporarily have increased nutrient needs, such as being pregnant
- You have a busy lifestyle and struggle to eat a balanced diet consistently
In contrast to a single vitamin supplement, many multivitamins contain lower doses of vitamins so they may not be the best choice to address an individual vitamin deficiency which can require higher doses to resolve the issue.
The benefits of taking an individual vitamin supplement are:
- Address specific deficiencies – most people who have a vitamin deficiency, or are at risk of developing a vitamin deficiency, are recommended to take an individual vitamin supplement to resolve deficiency of that vitamin. An example would be a Vitamin B12 supplement for vegans, who lack this nutrient in their diet, or for older people who are at increased risk of impaired absorption of Vitamin B12 from food. A Vitamin D supplement is important all year around to prevent deficiency which is highly prevalent in Ireland due to lack of exposure to sunshine and low levels of Vitamin D in food.
- Address specific needs – on occasion, you may have increased needs for certain vitamins, for example, Vitamins D and K are vital in supporting bone health in postmenopausal women; folate (Vitamin B9) is crucial for women of childbearing age. An individual vitamin allows you to address that need without potentially disrupting the balance of other nutrients.
- When taking a single nutrient supplement, you know exactly what and how much your body is getting without consuming additional, and possibly unneeded, nutrients.
Knowing the needs of your body is hugely important, as is choosing the highest quality supplement available, as not all are created equal. We are always happy to answer any questions you might have and will happily point you in the right direction.
Yours in health,
Paula and Mark, SOMEGA