Do not leave your vitality and health to chance. Studies show that the consequences of a lack of vitamins have greater health effects than previously thought. A good multivitamin guarantees that you are supplied with all important vital substances. This ensures the health, performance, and vitality of the body.
Multivitamins are a combination of different vitamins that are essential for the functions of the human body. Multivitamin preparations usually contain all vitamins that fulfil vital tasks in the body and ensure well-being and performance.
What are multivitamins and what do they contain?
Multivitamins are a combination of different vitamins in one preparation. As a rule, multivitamin preparations contain the most important vitamins for the human body. These include the water-soluble vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid as well as the fat-soluble vitamins D, E and K as well as the provitamin beta-carotene, from which the body can produce vitamin A.
Multivitamins also often contain minerals, trace elements, enzymes or amino acids that support the effects of the vitamins.
All vitamins are involved in numerous processes in the human body. They protect the body against free radicals, regulate the utilisation of carbohydrates, protein, and minerals and are indispensable when building cells, hormones, and enzymes. Skin, nerves, bones and the immune system also depend on the adequate supply of all vitamins.
We, humans, have lost the ability to make our own vitamins, although they are vital. This evolutionary paradox can be explained by the fact that these vitamins are abundant in the human food chain.
However, this was only possible during the pre-agricultural period, when fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, and meat grew without human manipulation. Although today's modern diet of the developed world is varied, it can still lead to a vitamin deficiency, which can pose an increased risk of chronic diseases.
How many multivitamins do you need?
The German Nutrition Society recommends five servings of fruit and vegetables to cover daily vitamin requirements, but this is usually no longer sufficient, since the vitamin content of many foods has dropped significantly in recent years.
In addition, daily needs also depend on individual factors. In stressful situations, in the event of illness or physical stress, the need for vitamins increases just as much as during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so that an increased intake is necessary.
In these cases, taking a multivitamin can prevent and compensate for a lack of vitamins.
A Balanced and Varied Diet
A balanced and varied diet is the best source of essential vitamins and minerals, however, nutrient deficiencies do occur even in societies with bountiful supplies of nutrient-rich foods. Common advice is to eat sufficient fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products to maintain health and prevent disease.
Multivitamins can be useful in providing one or more nutrients in cases where consumption of a particular food is less than the recommended daily amount. Deficiencies in one or more key nutrients can lead to non-optimal functioning and even serious health consequences.
Certainly, even in the general population, there are often periodic lapses in micronutrient quotas and when these periodic gaps become persistent, the nutrient shortfall can result in serious health issues. This is often described as hidden hunger, which is when people eat adequate calories but inadequate micronutrients.
Hidden hunger is often the case in developing countries where modern eating patterns are dominated by energy-dense but nutrient deficient foods. In one large population study in the USA, micronutrient levels were recorded to be below the recommended amount for vitamins A, C, D and E as well as for minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
Furthermore, data from this study showed that for those who take multivitamin supplements, these deficiencies were less common across all age groups.
Multivitamin Supplement Health Benefits
At present, there is considerable research and public acceptance on multivitamin and mineral supplementation to help with health issues such as anaemia (iron), neural tube defect (folic acid), and osteoporosis (vitamin D).
However, new research is suggesting that cognitive performance, athletic output, and physical performance can also be maintained or improved with multivitamin supplementation as well as longevity in older individuals.
Although multivitamin supplements are not substitutes for a balanced diet, they are able
- to replace nutritional inadequacies
- to maintain good health
- to improve metabolic processes
- to prevent chronic diseases
How does a vitamin deficiency manifest itself?
- lack of concentration
- sleep disorders
- increased susceptibility to infections
- metabolic disorders
- skin and hair problems
- joint pain
- blurred vision
Ingredients of multivitamin preparations
Vitamin B Complex
The vitamin B-complex is a family of eight B vitamins that are essential micronutrients for optimal health and well-being. These include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12).
Each of the B vitamins has closely inter-related functions acting as co-enzymes in key reactions in each cell of the human body. In particular, B vitamins support important cell metabolism and energy production reactions that are necessary for life.
Every aspect of energy production in cells requires at least one B vitamin. Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid are all essential co-enzymes that are absolutely critical in catabolic energy production. Without these vitamins, there are serious and broad negative health consequences.
Other B-vitamin dependent processes include anabolic processes that require these compounds to assist in the metabolism of substances such as amino acids, fatty acids, and pyrimidines, all of which are essential for most other cellular processes.
Overall, the health benefits of B-vitamin supplementation are:
- Co-enzyme in many important metabolic reactions
- Prevents B-vitamin deficiency
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is usually combined with minerals, such as calcium ascorbate and magnesium ascorbate or others, or is present in high concentration in Acerola- or Camu-Camu fruit powder. These vitamin C forms are known to be more natural rather than just synthetically derived ascorbic acid.
In contrast to humans, many animals, including some species of monkeys, can produce their own vitamin C. Therefore, humans need to acquire vitamin C solely from the diet notably from fresh fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin C supplements are mainly used to help prevent or treat the common cold. In a large meta-analysis study that included 29 trials and involving over 11.000 participants, researchers were able to show that regular consumption of vitamin C reduced the duration of the common cold by a significant 8% in adults and 14% in children.
Furthermore, children who consumed between 1 and 2 grams of vitamin C had reduced severity of the flu as well as a significant reduction of 18% in the duration of their flu. Although the results were not always consistent it would seem that regular vitamin C supplementation is beneficial for some.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and is also used for many other purposes including enhancing exercise metabolism, photoprotection of skin, improving negative moods, lowering high blood pressure, and maintaining optimal joint health.
The multiple beneficial effects of a multivitamin with added vitamin C:
- Preventing and treating the common cold
- Enhances collagen biosynthesis in cartilage helping to maintain healthy joints
- Potent antioxidant
- Photo-protection of the skin during sun-bathing
- Anti-inflammatory action
- Helpful in treating dermal conditions
Fat-soluble vitamins include the vitamins: vitamin A (retinol), vitamin D (25-OHD), and vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols), and vitamin K. Deficiencies in these vitamins have been associated with a number of diseases and poor health.
Vitamin A, or retinoic acid, is an essential vitamin that has many important roles including healthy liver metabolism, eye health as well as healthy skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin A deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of cancer and diabetes.
Vitamin D is known to help promote calcium absorption, which in turn helps to maintain strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D naturally comes from exposure to the sun but with the commitments of work and long hours spent indoors, many people do not get adequate amounts of vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiencies have also been connected with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease mediated by the immune system. There is strong evidence that populations with low vitamin D levels are more susceptible to developing the disease.
Vitamin E is a group of eight chemically similar compounds that come with a range of essential benefits for human health. As potent antioxidants, these compounds can help protect the body from free radicals, which are implicated in aging and the development of chronic and metabolic diseases.
Vitamin E also helps to maintain blood circulation and improves blood vessel health as well as keeping a healthy strong heart. Supplementation with vitamin E has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks as well as protecting against calcification of arterial walls.
Vitamin K complex consists of two fat-soluble compounds known as vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 which are highly concentrated in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K is a co-factor for an enzyme that is critical in cellular processes such as optimal bone and arterial health.
Vitamin K2 is particularly helpful at protecting and strengthening bones by maintaining calcium levels in the bone. Through this, vitamin K also assists in making sure that the calcium is kept in the bones and not building up in arteries (calcification) causing hardening and ultimately heart disease.
Minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium make up the majority of minerals that are included in multivitamin tablets.
The following list describes the main benefits of including these minerals in multivitamin tablets:
- Potassium is an essential mineral for maintaining healthy blood pressure and bone health
- Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth
- Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen through the blood
- Magnesium is an essential mineral for overall health but is notable in maintaining healthy muscle function, bone health, and nerve function
- Zinc is necessary for a strong immune system
The relationship between calcium, potassium and magnesium levels is of importance due to their role in maintaining optimal blood pressure. Therefore, the levels of these minerals in the body are currently being investigated to determine whether deficiencies in these minerals could contribute to hypertension.
Trace elements that are essential for human life include the elements copper, manganese, chromium, selenium, and molybdenum. These minerals may only be required in small quantities but are essential for human life and maintaining optimal health and well-being.
- Copper is an important trace element that is needed as a co-factor for enzymes involved in inflammation and angiogenesis
- Selenium is necessary for maximising the activity of an important antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase
- Chromium may help maintain proper blood glucose levels and is currently being researched in people with type II diabetes
- Molybdenum is an essential trace element that is involved as a co-factor for many enzymes. Notably, this includes the important enzyme, sulphite oxidase, which metabolises sulphur-containing amino acids.
Dietary carotenoids are natural compounds found in many fruits and vegetables. The most common carotenoids include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Each of these carotenoids is of significant clinical interest due to their role in human health and disease.
Carotenoids are potent antioxidants that have many beneficial effects on human health. Furthermore, carotenoids can also:
- Decrease the risk of some cancers
- Reduce the risk of eye diseases
- May reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases
Amino acids such as tyrosine, phenylalanine, theanine, and tryptophan are precursors for many types of neurotransmitters that are important for optimal brain functioning. Supplementation with these specific amino acids can naturally assist the production of these neurotransmitters.
The monoamine neurotransmitters include dopamine, melatonin, noradrenaline, and serotonin which all play a role in mental processes such as cognition, emotion, memory formation and mood. These monoamine neurotransmitters also help maintain brain integrity and plasticity, which is important to help healthy brain ageing.
Precursors of dopamine and noradrenaline are the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine, whereas the serotonin and melatonin precursor is tryptophan.
Supplementation with these precursor amino acids has the following health benefits:
- Boosts cognition and intelligence
- Enhances attention span and focus
- Improves memory formation
- Encourages healthy brain aging
- Stabilises moods and emotions
Enzymes are often included in multivitamin supplements to help with digestion and improve the absorption of nutrients. The enzymes often included are papain or bromelain, both of which are natural digestive enzymes and are derived from papaya and pineapple, respectively.
In addition, digestive enzymes can help with the maintenance of the digestive tract particularly in people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Papain has been shown to be a natural remedy for constipation, bloating and heartburn all of which are painful symptoms of IBS.
- Reduce bloating
- Improve digestion
- May help treat people suffering from IBS
Who Should Use Multivitamins?
Multivitamins are recommended for:
- For people who play sports
- Wound healing
- Skin, hair, or nail problems
- Sleep disorders
- Nicotine or alcohol consumption
- Taking certain medications
- Unilateral nutrition and diets
Multivitamin supplements are often combined with the following natural additives:
- Trace elements
- Plant extracts
- Digestive enzymes
Why Take Multivitamins?
Multivitamin supplements may help prevent a number of health problems as well as bridging the gap in any nutritional deficiency.
Certain research would seem to say that multivitamin supplements are safe and beneficial at reducing the risk of chronic disease in at-risk populations.
- Support a busy lifestyle
- Keep the mind fit
- Support healthy digestion
- Support the health of the organs
- Supporting heart health
- Ensure strong bones
- Improve the mood with slight mood changes
- Help with menopausal symptoms