Should I Take a Multivitamin?

should-i-take-a-multivitamin

I write this blog to be of service to you. So I love it when readers write in with topic ideas. What’s on your mind that I can answer? I want to thank the community member who asked me to address: should I take a multivitamin. Here’s what I think about multivitamins.

First I need to tell you that when it comes to nutrition, one size doesn’t fit all. We each have different nutrition needs – based on our sex, age, physical activity, health concerns, etc. And, our eating habits vary widely. That’s why for my 40 Days to a Happy, Healthy You weight loss program, the first thing I do is a nutrition assessment of you. It’s from the results of my nutrition assessment that I create your individual action plan. So, without doing an individual nutrition assessment, I can’t really answer whether you, specifically as an individual you, should take a multivitamin.

However, I can share my thoughts on multivitamins for adults in general for you to consider.

I do recommend a daily multivitamin if you’re a woman of childbearing age.

Who is that? Girls and women from first period to last period. The reason is that it’s estimated that 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Also, the risk of spina bifida is greatly reduced (although not 100% preventable) when women take 400 micrograms of folic acid (also called folate) in those first few days of pregnancy (i.e. before most women know that they’re pregnant). An unplanned pregnancy can be stressful enough. An unplanned pregnancy with a child who has a significant medical condition that could have been prevented – significantly more stressful. Even if you don’t ever get pregnant, folate is a B-vitamin that’s good for our own health too.

Sure, you could take folate on it’s own. But multivitamins designed for women under 50 will have 400 micrograms of folic acid in them. Getting some extra vitamins and minerals (e.g. iron, calcium) along with your folic acid is probably a good thing.

I do recommend a daily multivitamin for women and men 50 and up.

Why? For the vitamin B12. At first, low B12 causes you to feel tired, lethargic, dragging. Often people think that they may be feeling this way because they have low iron. But it’s rare for men to have low iron. And, it’s rare for women who aren’t menstruating to have low iron. If your vitamin B12 levels get even lower, it causes permanent cognitive impairment. Let me repeat and clarify that. If your B12 levels get too low, you get memory loss that doesn’t return even if you raise your B12 levels back up again. Yikes! Why the concern after 50 years old? After 50, many of us have a decreased ability to absorb the vitamin B12 that we get through food. This is particularly true if you take medications for acid reflux (heart burn), and is a side-effect of a number of other medications. Getting vitamin B12 in the form of a supplement doesn’t require the same stomach function as vitamin B12 through food. We don’t have recommendations on how much you should get in a supplement. It’s somewhere around 2.4 micrograms daily.

Sure, you could take vitamin B12 on it’s own. Some people choose to get vitamin B12 shots (injections). But multivitamins designed for adults 50+ have vitamin B12 in them. Getting some extra vitamins and minerals (e.g. calcium) along with your vitamin B12 is probably a good thing.

What if I’m not in those two groups?

Then I don’t have strong feelings either way about whether you should take a multivitamin.

Want to know more about what vitamins you, as an individual, should take? Check out my Individual Nutritional Assessment Service (including individual action plan) today.

Over 50? Why You Want to be Taking a B12 Supplement

over 50 b12 supplement

Something that I’m noticing in working with clients who are 50 or older is that most don’t know that they should be taking B12 by supplement. This is not a new recommendation, but it is little-known.

B12 is required for our brain’s function. If our B12 is low, we lose cognitive function. The scary thing about B12 is that even if we get our B12 back up to healthy levels, any cognitive function lost is lost forever. It never comes back. Less scary, but still important, low B12 makes us have low energy and feel tired.

The recommendation for B12 is:

  • 2.4 micrograms for men & women 19 years & older
  • 2.6 micrograms for pregnant women
  • 2.8 micrograms for breastfeeding women

B12 is found in dairy foods, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. As such, vegans of all ages are recommended to take a B12 supplement. Either as a vitamin or nutritional yeast.

The first step in absorbing B12 from the food we eat requires our stomach acid. In a significant portion of people over 50 years old, stomach acid weakens. The result is that they can’t absorb the B12 from the food they eat. Currently there isn’t a test to find out who has this lower stomach acid and who’s stomach acid is normal. Because of the scary consequences of low B12, it’s recommended that everyone over 50 years old take a B12 supplement. B12 from supplements doesn’t require the stomach acid step for absorption.

If you take a multivitamin for 50+ you’re likely already getting B12. The B12 is one of the differences that makes vitamins specific for 50+. To be sure, check your vitamin’s label. Don’t take a multivitamin? Look for a B12 vitamin or B complex with approximately 2.4 micrograms of B12. It’s one of the easiest steps for brain health.

Curious about how I can help you achieve your health and nutrition goals? Schedule a (free) call to find out.