The Truth About Multivitamins
We hear about multivitamins all the time. The term has become somewhat ubiquitous in health and nutrition circles. So what are they? And what do they do for our bodies?
Multivitamins are a combination of many essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. These vitamins and minerals are very small molecules that our body needs in order to carry out certain function. Vitamins are organic and come from food; minerals are inorganic, and come from the earth.
Think of vitamins and minerals as the small bolts and gears in a car, their individual function to carry out tasks that allow the bigger pieces of machinery, like an alternator, to work. Without the smaller parts working properly, the alternator would fall apart. In the same way, we need vitamins and minerals or our body will break down.
Unlike other components of nutrition, which our bodies can produce or synthesize, the human body cannot produce vitamins or minerals. From here on, I’ll be referring to vitamins and minerals as vitamins.
Our body needs vitamins, preferably from a healthy diet. But many people’s diets today don’t provide all the healthful vitamins a body needs to function. That’s why it’s a great idea to supplement with multivitamins.
Can multivitamins help lose fat, grow muscle, improve sexual performance and help memory?
Essentially, no—don't believe the marketing hype of big brand supplement companies. A multivitamin's job is to provide your body with some of the small nutrients your body may not get from food. It is not capable of turning bad meals into superfood nutrition, or replacing your meals altogether.
Taking vitamins won’t turn that deluxe, super-sized cheeseburger into a healthy meal.
Vitamin supplements will definitely give you some of the nutrition missing from that high-calorie, low-nutrient burger. But a multivitamin won’t burn away all the extra calories from the cheeseburger. A vitamin supplement can fill in the missing gaps in your overall nutrition, but it won’t grow muscles by itself.
Think of the car example I give earlier. Vitamins and minerals are like the small, but important, bolts and gears in a car. Just because you replaced the small bolts on your car does not mean the car will go faster, save you hundreds of dollars at the gas station, or make the car seats more comfortable to ride in. Sounds crazy when we’re talking about a car, but we can extrapolate it easily to the kinds of empty promises big brand supplement companies make to their consumers.
Benefits of Multivitamins
Are you getting a 100% healthy, nutritious, fresh meal, every single day? Three to four of them daily? If you’re like most people, chances are that doesn’t realistically describe your diet. So you probably have some nutrition gaps in your body’s fuel.
This is where vitamins help, by filling in the gaps. As I stated before, vitamins don’t turn unhealthy meals healthy, or burn away empty calories, but they do give you some of the nutrition those meals lack.
If the average person has nutritional gaps, then a very active person, like a gym goer or athlete, will likely have even bigger gaps—if they’re not taking a multivitamin.
How can a multivitamin help active gym goers?
If you want your protein, creatine, and other supplements achieve their maximum potential for efficacy, you need to tend to your body’s metabolism and make sure it’s working correctly.
If we go back to the car example, we can understand it better. A car that’s missing even the smallest bolts in its engine can break down. It doesn’t matter if you add the highest quality oil—the oil can’t do its job if the engine is falling apart.
The oil, in this example, is like expensive supplements you take to boost your exercise performance. And the multivitamins should be on the top of your list of supplements to buy.
Even people who don’t go to the gym should put vitamins on their grocery list—and you can find great multivitamins at your local grocery store.
Are all multivitamins the same?
For the most part, yes, but men and women can take multivitamins specifically designed for their body’s needs. Men’s multivitamins might have nutrients designed to help with testosterone and prostate health. Women may take vitamins geared toward skin and nail health, or prenatal vitamins.
Multivitamins shouldn’t cost more than $25 for a month’s supply—and even that number is at the high end. So when you’re choosing a multivitamin, pick something designed for your gender and age, and something affordable..
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