For years now, the multivitamin has been seen as a basic commitment to good health. And, for most people, it is. But many people see their multivitamin as the only nutrient source needed for a healthy diet.
That view is, unfortunately, wrong. It would be nice to take one pill and get all the nutrients you need, but humans just aren’t wired that way. At least, not with the way current daily vitamins are formulated.
There are many reasons why a single daily vitamin—or even a few daily vitamins—won’t be enough to keep your body running. Everything from your diet to health conditions to your personal demographics can affect the nutrients you need.
Here are just a few reasons why daily vitamins alone aren’t sufficient for proper body function:
1) Vitamins Are Misused
The biggest problem with multivitamins is that they are misused. There is no single vitamin formula that is perfect for everyone. But most vitamins are marketed—and used—as if they are one-size-fits-all.
Yes, a daily multivitamin will provide a large chunk of the nutrients the human body needs, but that doesn’t mean that the body will absorb it all. Additionally, no single supplement is going to have everything you need.
This is especially true if you feel rundown or tired. Even a solid multivitamin isn’t likely to have the kind of complex B-vitamin combinations that are best suited to boosting your energy levels.
That is, of course, if a vitamin deficiency is the cause.
Rather than rely solely on a daily vitamin, you should add a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet. Certain spices can even help improve the nutrient content of your meals.
Take cayenne pepper, for example. The benefits of adding cayenne to your diet are numerous, including adding trace amounts of many vitamins to your diet.
And, unlike taking a multivitamin, the nutrients you consume when you eat are spaced out throughout your day, so you have more time to absorb them.
2) Vitamins Might Mask Other Problems
An odd trend in today’s health-focused world is the idea that vitamins are the perfect starting point to treat almost any ailment. If you feel rundown… if you can’t sleep… if you can’t seem to find anything appetizing… many people will tell you to take some daily vitamins first.
This isn’t inherently a bad idea. But it becomes a problem when people insist that vitamins are the best possible treatment. In the worst cases, this push for supplement-based recovery can mask the actual root of the problem.
Depression is an excellent example of this. Many of its symptoms—lack of appetite, apathy, lack of energy, bad sleep—are often blamed on nutrient deficiencies.
But over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. And while many do not have access to adequate healthcare, the true root of the problem may have nothing to do with vitamin complexes. In fact, many have found that depression can be assisted by alternative treatments like massage, journaling, or exercise. Of course, depressions and underlying causes are often more complex, so never try and cure it yourself without professional help.
Trying to treat mental illness with vitamins alone will only leave you feeling even more tired. And that leads to issues with the way your body functions.
3) Vitamins Might Not Be Labeled Honestly
Some years back, a scandal erupted when it was discovered that many supplements and vitamins were not purity-tested prior to sale. While some companies cleaned up their act, others are still selling products that haven’t been fully tested.
Of course, third-party labs have started testing products and releasing their findings publicly. But they can only do so much when faced with a market as big as vitamins and nutritional supplements.
There are other issues with way the nutritional supplements are sold. You’ve probably heard that vitamin C helps fight colds, for example. There are plenty of vitamin supplements sold that are formulated with vitamin C as the main “sickness fighter.”
However, science has shown that vitamin C doesn’t do anything special to help battle illness.
Despite this evidence, however, many companies still market vitamin C as a “cold fighter.” These supplements don’t actually do what they claim, and the consumer is the one who suffers when they don’t find the relief their bodies need.
Well-researched daily vitamins are still a good idea. You just don’t want to make them your only nutrient source.
Varying your diet and adding in new foods can help bring in the nutrients you’re missing. And though your daily vitamin can do a good job, you might find yourself preferring the diet-based method over time.
The important thing to remember is that everyone is a little bit different. You might react to certain nutrient combinations differently than other people.
Or, you might need more of one thing and less of another. You might even find that you need something else, something a vitamin can’t provide.
With daily vitamins, you may not even be getting the nutrients you think you are. Or, if the labeling is honest in its content, it might be lying in the effects it can achieve.
There are many risks you take when you rely on a single daily vitamin for your nutritional needs. A varied diet, eliminating other potential sources of trouble, and opting for third-party tested products will protect from most of these risks.
And, if it’s possible, visiting a medical professional or nutritionist might get you on track to the diet and supplements that will help you most.