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Multivitamin - why take it at all ?

Multivitamin - why take it at all ?

To begin with, we should probably say why it's important to take some multivitamin. Many people say that if you have a sufficiently varied diet, you don't need any multivitamin. This is, of course, a question for a long debate. Whether some micronutrients are contained in caloric foods and get a very high income to ensure their adequate intake, or because the quality of some foods, especially imported foods, is not just enough to contain the many nutrients our body needs.

In addition, some dietary components prevent the absorption of micronutrients. For example, refined sugars, as well as products from white flour, such as white bread, can reduce the level of blood minerals such as zinc and magnesium. Calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, in turn, prevent absorption of both zinc and magnesium. Calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, in turn, prevent absorption of both zinc and magnesium. Another reason to buy a high quality vitamin is definitely a sport. When doing sports, the need for micronutrients increases significantly as your body loses it during training. This is due to a number of factors - loss of sweat and urine minerals, as well as the need for their greater amounts in energy production during exercise, as well as recovery and protein synthesis after training. Especially if you are in a caloric deficit, the need increases.

Unfortunately, the fact that a multivitamin is a totally unnecessary supplement can be read from the mouth of “experts” on various websites dealing with healthy lifestyles. Such an expert is either poorly educated in terms of vitamins or imaginary, and such an article serves only as a marketing move for the pharmaceutical industry, thereby trying to convince its customers that disease prevention is not important but their treatment.

Some doctors and nutritionists have even gone so far as to claim that using vitamins and mineral supplements can be life-threatening. However, this statement is based on poorly conducted and thus distorted studies. Recently, a large study (read here) has been conducted to investigate 38,000 elderly women, where a higher probability of mortality was reported in supplementation of multivitamin, vitamin B6, folic acid, zinc and copper. Yes, but now let's say the essential to the study.

First, it was a research among the Elder Women, which in itself is misleading and, moreover, no one provided the supplements to the subjects, only relied on using them. This is a very nice procedure, but certainly not scientific, and that is why the result cannot be considered credible. The second "detail" of this study, which is doubtful, is the fact that many people diagnosed with a disease are beginning to use food supplements with the hope of saving them. It is not possible to say that if a sick person started to use the vitamin within the belief in improving their health and dies that the cause of the death is just a food supplement.

Fortunately, the studies that are used to take vitamins are much more than those that label multivitamin supplementation harmful. These studies show that the inclusion of a vitamin is beneficial to health, be it bone, skin, healthy appearance or organ function. No less important role is played by high-quality multivitamin for sport performance. It even appears that multivitamin is important for promoting brain activity. What's more, you can use it as a means to promote fat burning! Investing in quality multivitamin should be one of the first investments in supplementation at all.

So what to look for when choosing a truly functional product?

Multivitamin should be an essential element of supplementation, not only for all hard-working athletes, but also for the general population. Vitamins and minerals are essential for many body functions, including proper muscle regeneration and growth. But he is not a "mulch". On the market, we find products that are truly functional, and then, unfortunately, a lot of those that look useful, but have "their flies”.

Are you saying that choosing a multivitamin is just about how much you want to invest in it? Maybe you're making a mistake. There are aspects that you should not take lightly when choosing a vitamin, because the products are not always properly designed and do not always contain what they should contain. So what to look for when choosing a vitamin and what to watch out for?

Opposite and mutually excluding elements

You may be surprised, but there are combinations of vitamins and minerals that "repel" each other or, in other words, block the absorption of each other, or their respective blood concentrations affect the absorption of other important nutrients. 

Since we usually use multivitamin together with food, ideally with breakfast, which contains proteins, or amino acids, you need to be careful about zinc. In fact, zinc can disrupt the absorption of amino acids from food. Furthermore, it inhibits the absorption of copper and iron as elements that should be part of a multivitamin, and therefore it is better to use it alone.

The second component your multivitamin should not contain is magnesium. Magnesium is undoubtedly an important mineral, especially for athletes, but it can interfere with calcium absorption, which is why it should not be included in the multivitamin. The ideal time to use magnesium is, as you know, evening, ideally around bedtime. Zinc with magnesium is a very effective combination to support your sleep and regeneration.

The list of elements that could make mischief in the vitamin is not over yet. Another such significant is calcium. A very important mineral, but it affects the absorption of zinc, iron and manganese. So logically, the content of a complex multivitamin supplement should not be, yet 95% of the multivitamins contain it! Its deficiency is quite rare, so in fact it is "not needed" in multivitamin, but in its absence it is also better to use it separately.

The last element you don't want in your multivitamin is phosphorus. A normal diet contains enough of it and its excess can prevent the conversion of vitamin D to the active form of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D in the kidneys. Since this form is the most effective form of vitamin D that brings most of its health benefits to the body, it can have negative consequences for bone health, as well as depriving you of the additional benefits that vitamin D provides, such as greater muscle mass. strength and higher testosterone levels.

Unsuitable form of used raw materials

It doesn't just matter what elements your multivitamin contains, but also what form they contain in the supplement. Unfortunately, the common problem nowadays is that companies use cheap, ineffective or even potentially dangerous forms of certain vitamins and minerals.

For example, most multivitamins do not contain chromium, and if so, it is often chromium chloride, a very poorly absorbable form. Especially athletes, however, need a form that is easily and quickly absorbed. Far better is chromium picolinate. Examine carefully not only what your vitamin contains, but also the forms of raw materials used, as these affect the absorption of individual nutrients.

Another component that matters is vitamin A. Make sure trans-beta-carotene is added to your multivitamin, which is a form of provitamin A that prevents potential toxicity and only gives you the amount of vitamin A that your the body needs and uses it. Vitamin A often occurs in multivitamines mainly as pre-prepared vitamin A (retinol) in the form of retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate. These forms are rapidly absorbed but slowly excreted from the body, which can lead to toxicity and liver problems if the dose is too high.

The third vitamin that needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a multivitamin is vitamin K if it is contained in the product. Studies on whether K1 (Phylloquinone) or K2 (Menaquinone) is more effective are still being conducted on vitamin K. Using both forms, the 1: 8 ratio is therefore ideal, for example 5 mg K1 and 45 mg K2. The highest biological activity and bioavailability of all forms of vitamin K, however, according to studies, offers the form of vitamin K2-MK7.

Absence of essential elements or their insufficient quantity

Another thing you should check before investing is whether the selected product contains all the important elements and also how much it contains. Vitamin K is one of the most important vitamins that manufacturers "forget" to add to their products. At the same time, vitamin K is essential to the body - it serves as a support for many of its functions, such as controlling blood clotting, building healthy and strong bones, affecting insulin sensitivity, and regulating blood glucose levels. It also supports brain function and is used to prevent cancer and heart disease. It is also worth noting that it promotes skin health and increases testosterone production. A decent list of benefits, right? At the same time, vitamin K in most multivitamins is most often lacking, and research suggests that many more people suffer from a lack of it than previously thought. Which is alarming.

Another critical item in the list of elements that is often missing in the composition is iodine. The main function of iodine is to support thyroid function. Since most of the earth's iodine is found in the oceans, iodine deficiency is a major health problem worldwide. With incorrect demonization of salt / sodium, its intake is reduced by using the salt to which it is added. Table salt is iodinated - meaning iodine is added, and is the easiest way to receive iodine. So if you do not eat and eat seafood, you need to find a multivitamin that iodine contains and is able to cover the daily need of this element with its dose.

The third element that is often lacking or contained in inadequate amounts is copper, which is also important for a number of functions in the body, specifically for the production of red blood cells and fat metabolism. To ensure that it is adequately absorbed, it is important that you do not receive it together with zinc, which is, as we mentioned above, better to use separately.

TIP: A vitamin that meets all the criteria that are named - MULTIPOWER!

Chromium has already been mentioned, but it is often inadequate, although we usually take it very little in the diet. Chromium absorption promotes vitamin C, so it is ideal to take these elements together if you choose to take them separately from your multivitamin.

The last group that we should focus on when choosing an effective supplement is athletes, B vitamins. Although they are often contained, often in insufficient amounts, B vitamins are very important micro-ingredients for athletes, among others they strengthen nerves and maintain healthy blood cells.

Of course, the average consumer does not examine the composition in detail, which most manufacturers rely on, and thus offers the opportunity to cheat a little. After all, how many people actually know how much copper, iodine or even vitamin B they need? Very little. And many vitamin supplement companies use this advantage to make more money with the tiny doses they give.

Poor absorption

However, by buying a multivitamin supplement with all the components and in the corresponding proportions, it is not yet conquered. Many vitamins and minerals in the form of a supplement may not be properly processed by the body. Therefore, it is necessary not to rely solely on preparations, but also to take care of a quality, balanced and varied diet as a natural source of vitamins and minerals.

As for vitamins, we have good news. It is possible to use several tricks from everyday life to increase their bioavailability and thus ensure their better absorption. For example, it is ideal if the vitamin itself contains ingredients of spices such as piperine, capsaicin or gingerols *. Piperine, for example, is a black pepper extract that has been shown to enhance the absorption of large amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, beta-carotene and selenium. It may help to consume a multivitamin with food that it contains. Or spice up your life! and ensure your body has the best absorption of vitamins and minerals.

  • gingerol is an active ingredient of fresh ginger, it is related to capsaicin.

What to say in conclusion?

A quality multivitamin supplement is one of the best services you can provide to your body. When choosing, make sure that it does not contain mutually exclusive components or poorly absorbable forms of individual vitamins. Conversely, a quality multivitamin must contain all the important elements that the body needs in the right proportions and forms. Unfortunately, there are many products available on the market that do not meet these conditions. Carefully study the labels and ingredients of your products to make your investment unnecessary.


Gibson, J. C., et al. Nutrition status of junior elite Canadian female soccer athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2011 Dec;21(6):507-14.
Louis, J, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation effect on muscular activity and cycling efficiency in master athletes. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010 Jun;35(3):251-60.
Clarkson, P. M. Effects of exercise on chromium levels. Is supplementation required? Sports Med. 1997 Jun;23(6):341-9.
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Rautiainen, S., et al. Multivitamin use and the risk of myocardial infarction: a population-based cohort of Swedish women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010.
Major, G.C., et al. Multivitamin and dietary supplements, body weight and appetite: results from a cross-sectional and a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2008 May;99(5):1157-67.
Lukaski, H. C. Magnesium, zinc, and chromium nutriture and physical activity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(2 Suppl):585S-593S.
Badmaev, V., et al. Piperine, An Alkaloid Derived From Black Pepper, Increases Serum Response Of Beta-Carotene During 14-Days Of Oral Beta-Carotene Supplementation Nutrition Research 19(3):381-388, 1999
Li, K., et al. Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality in a German prospective cohort (EPIC-Heidelberg). Eur J Nutr. 2012 Jun;51(4):407-13.

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