Should you be taking a multivitamin?

You may have read in my earlier posts that I do not often recommend supplements, especially when they promise some type of exercise related benefit like “muscle preservation.” However, I do recommend that people take multivitamins.pill in mouth stockphotosforfree

Although it’s best to get all your nutrients in food form, because we absorb them much better that way (and that means we’re eating healthy food that has a whole gamut of incredible health implications), it can be really hard to get in everything that you need, even if you have a healthy diet.

Most American’s diets are deficient in some nutrients. So taking a multivitamin helps you fill those gaps, resulting in more energy and a reduced risk of getting colds/flus and infections. In the long term, men can benefit from an 8% reduction in overall cancer risk, according to a study out of Harvard. This is a big reduction just for taking a pill, and especially beneficial for firefighters who already have an increased risk of developing cancer. For women, iron supplementation may be needed to avoid anemia and, for those who could become pregnant, taking in folic acid is extremely important to avoid birth defects. As you can see, men and women have specific needs, so don’t take your spouse’s multivitamin!

As people age they have a reduced ability to absorb nutrients so supplementing with vitamins becomes even more important. Sometimes a case of dementia is actually just the symptoms of a nutrient deficiency. Older adults should take a multivitamin that is specifically for older adults (can be in shake form).

One important thing to know about micronutrients (vitamins and minerals that are in our food and also in pill form), is that more is not always better. Based on research, there are recommendations made about the amount that should be taken in for optimal functioning and to avoid disease. More commonly people are not getting in enough, however it is possible to take in too much (by overdosing on supplements) and the consequences could be potentially fatal. For example, the leading cause of accidental death in children 6 and under is iron overdose. So stick to the recommendations and make sure you are taking a multivitamin that is gender and age specific (and never give a child an adult multivitamin)!


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By | 2018-06-01T07:36:19+00:00 January 22nd, 2014|Uncategorized|1 Comment

About the Author:

Dr. Karlie Moore has a PhD in Exercise Science and Nutrition and specializes in firefighter health. She has conducted fitness testing on hundreds of firefighters and has created the most comprehensive online wellness program for fire departments called the FitCulture program. Dr. Moore is also married to a firefighter and so understands their lifestyle and the health challenges associated with it.

One Comment

  1. Steve Jones January 30, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I love these topics as alot of my Fire service colleagues preach the use of supplements and vitamins, blindly repeating commercials. The truth is as you said, you should be getting all you need from what you normally eat. Supplements and vitamins hide the fact that your missing something in your diet, and I believe your better off getting yourself checked at the doctors as a bloodwork test will highlight what’s missing and save you cash spent on all these supplements and vitamins, why because once you know what’s deficient you can tweak your diet to meet your individual needs. Besides your body can only assimilate so many vitamins, minerals and protiens in a day so your probably just wasting your hard earned money.
    Knowledge, Moderation, Healthy living is the key in my opinion.

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