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Is multivitamin supplement beneficial? Do I need to take supplement?

Vitamins and minerals segment's revenue in Canada is estimated to be US $1.23 billion in 2023. It is a massive billion dollar industry. But the question is do we need to take multivitamin supplements? Is it beneficial?



As a dietitian, I would highly recommend people to consider to work on their diet first. People can take supplements if they are unable to meet the nutrient needs and need to fill the nutrient gap.


Let me explain:

1. No supplement can replace a healthy and balanced diet. It is impossible for supplements to contain all of the health promoting benefits. Food is a complex form.


For example, beets is a great source of vitamins, minerals, folate, potassium and etc. Beets also contain the phytonutrient called betalains. This is an great antioxidant which helps to reduce inflammation in the body.



When we talk about lowering the risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and inflammation, we need to look at the diet as a whole approach.


2. I constantly see clients having iron deficiency (anemia) and vitamin B12 deficiency. If we only rely on supplements (such as iron supplement, vitamin B12 supplement), it may not resolve long term health problems.


For example, iron deficiency may also imply this person is low in protein, zinc, copper and selenium because these nutrients are from similar food sources. Addressing iron deficiency by supplement is like putting out fire, but it may not address the root causes. Again, working on the diet is more efficient in addressing nutrient problem in more comprehensive ways and is beneficial in the long run.



Do you recommend supplements?

Yes absolutely. As a dietitian, I do recommend supplements intake to individuals who need it.


If a person is low in iron, doctors may advise iron pills. It is helpful to address the anemia problem quickly. At the same time, we need to assess the diet and work on meal planning to maintain iron level from the food sources, so hopefully anemia is resolved in the long run.


For example, pregnant women and breastfeeding moms may benefit from prenatal or multivitamin intake because they have increased nutrient requirements, and it becomes very challenging for them to meet all the nutrients requirements from food sources only.


Therefore, supplements intake should be reviewed on an induvial basis by dietitians or doctors. Some nutrients such as vitamin A can be harmful if it is taken in an excessive amount. So it needs to carefully assessed by health professionals based on your diet and health conditions.



Reference:

Statista. Vitamins and Minerals Canada. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/otc-pharmaceuticals/vitamins-minerals/canada#:~:text=Revenue%20in%20the%20Vitamins%20%26%20Minerals,US%241.12bn%20in%202023.

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