Do I really need multivitamins?
Updated: Jan 18
Natural vitamin supplements fill the gaps where your diet is lacking. But picking vitamins can get confusing.
What kind of vitamins do you need? Is there a difference between whole food and synthetic vitamins?
There are a few ideas that come to mind when you think of what you need to do to be healthy. That includes meditation to minimize stress, go on a run, take a yoga class or make a nutritious meal. However, you may still experience low energy or other underlying health issues.
Vitamin supplements can fill in the gaps where your diet may be lacking. However, to choose vitamins for your family or yourself can get confuse though.
Approximately 43% of Australians take supplements, the most common of which is multivitamin. Multivitamin is a great way to bridge any nutritional gaps, serving as a great insurance policy to back you up to get all the nutrients that you need from food.
To fulfil the required quantities of fruits and vegetables the body needed, we would have to eat constantly! Instead of doing that, we can access whole food multivitamins to get all the essential nutrients.
Our soil is stripped of its nutritional value by mainstream farming methods. Fields are depleted by overuse and repeat planting in the same area causes the soil not to renew itself. Besides that, the use of pesticides and fertilizers limit the action of beneficial microbes in the soil to draw the nutrients. And genetically modified foods may affect us in the long term (1).
Why choosing natural and not synthetic vitamins?
Natural and synthetic vitamins can affect the body in a different way. The body excretes excess natural vitamins whilst synthetic vitamins get stored in the liver as substances that can be toxic to the body. Synthetic vitamins are not as bioavailable as whole food vitamins and contain a high concentration of chemical that mimic natural vitamins. Besides that, synthetic vitamins can only be processed with the right nutrients, leading to the buildup of chemicals the body can’t excrete and eventually cause disease.
Synthetic vitamins also do not contain trace minerals like those natural or whole food vitamins that come with various enzymes, minerals, lipids, protein and other nutrients to help the body digest and utilize them (2).
Whole food supplements for the healthier you
According to Schnabel’s research on wheatgrass, this natural plant required 200 days of slow growth through the winter and early spring. The harvesting period at the jointing stage is claimed to have the peak nutritional value, containing the source of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Besides that, it is also a good source of protein, consisting at least 17 forms of amino acids, including the essential amino acids (3).
Numerous species of microalgae are reported to be rich in proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and other bio-active compounds. Besides that, they contains excellent sources of vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, as well as minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and iodine).
Chlorella and spirulina species were consumed as natural supplement in Taiwan, Japan and Mexico. They are available as capsules, tablets, powders and liquids form. Chlorella and Spirulina species are gaining the popularity in supermarkets or drug stores due to the nutrient-rich profiles of these species. Both species work synergistically to provide the essential natural minerals and vitamins required for human consumption. Furthermore, both species contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin that help protect against cellular damage (4).
The idea of whole food being better for you isn’t a new concept as it has been taught for generations in health professional programs around the globe. As human diet is full of unhealthy, nutrient deficient food, thus supplementation comes into the light, replacing what might be missing from our poor diet or lack of healthful ingredients in our whole foods.
1. Aktar MW, Sengupta D, Chowdhury A. Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2009 Mar;2(1):1-12. doi: 10.2478/v10102-009-0001-7. PMID: 21217838; PMCID: PMC2984095.
2. Thiel RJ. Natural vitamins may be superior to synthetic ones. Med Hypotheses. 2000 Dec;55(6):461-9. doi: 10.1054/mehy.2000.1090. PMID: 11090291.
3. Ghumman A, Singh N, Kaur A. 2017. Chemical, nutritional and phenolic composition of wheatgrass and pulse shoots. International Journal of Food science and Technology.
4. Andrade LM, Andrade CJ, Dias M, et al. Chlorella and spirulina microalgae as sources of functional foods, nutraceuticals, and food supplements; an overview. MOJ Food Process Technol. 2018;6(1):45-58. DOI: 10.15406/mojfpt.2018.06.00144