A multivitamin is made up of a combination of many different vitamins that are typically found in foods and other natural sources. They’re intended to serve as a dietary supplement and can be found in many forms, such as tablets, capsules, powders, gummies, and liquids.
The birth of the multivitamin dates back to the early 1900s. In its early stages, the multivitamin was intended to solve nutrient deficiencies and cure diseases. Fast forward 100+ years, we’re still taking daily multivitamins and supplements with similar goals in mind; but with modern science and the guidance of the FDA, we know that vitamins are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. They can, however, complement or enhance your diet and help with nutrient deficiencies.
Since multivitamins have been around for over a century, they’ve evolved throughout that time. Nowadays, you can find various types of multivitamins created with the general population in mind and made to target specific health goals. While strolling the vitamin aisle at your local grocery store, you might find multivitamins developed for different age groups and sexes or to promote things like better sleep, less stress, or healthier hair, skin, and nails.
Before choosing a multivitamin that is best for your age, sex, dietary preferences, and lifestyle, be sure to do the proper research to determine what micronutrients you might need.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that your body requires. The more-commonly-discussed macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) often get the spotlight when talking about health. However, micronutrients are also crucial for numerous processes in the body. You need smaller amounts of micronutrients compared to macronutrients, but each micronutrient is vital for your body to function properly.
What Micronutrients Do I Need Daily?
Vitamins are involved in energy production, immune function, metabolism, and other body functions. Minerals are involved in bone health, fluid balance, and muscle function, just to name a few.
Generally speaking, there are 30 vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis. The majority of them serve us in multiple ways and work hand-in-hand to keep you healthy.
The Food and Nutrition Board has established the recommended amounts of micronutrients you’d need to consume daily (RDAs or Recommended Dietary Allowances). These recommendations are based on age, sex, and life stage, and were made for the general public. They do not consider your individual needs or body’s requirements.
As aforementioned, multivitamins typically contain vitamins and minerals that the average person would require. But they don’t necessarily apply to everyone. When it comes to vitamin intake, the types and amounts of vitamins should be based on each person’s individual age, sex, dietary preferences, eating habits, and genetics.
Compared to a generalized multivitamin, a personalized supplement would take it to the next level by creating a unique multivitamin formula based on your age, sex, genetics, and eating behaviors. This would help ensure that you are getting the adequate nutrients your individual body needs.
What Micronutrients Should Be In a Multivitamin?
Each person will have slightly different micronutrient needs. Typically, a well-balanced and varied diet can allow you to get the micronutrients you need daily. And while a food-first approach to nutrition is recommended, it's not always feasible to get all the micronutrients your body requires from meals and snacks alone, especially when considering today’s busy lifestyles and easy access to restaurants.
With this in mind, a daily multivitamin may greatly benefit you if you’re someone who has a more restrictive diet, certain health conditions, or if you simply have a harder time eating well-balanced, nutrient-rich meals.
So, what should you look for in a daily multivitamin?* Here’s a list of common micronutrients found in multivitamins:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
*If you believe you could be at risk of a nutrient deficiency or have a health condition or before taking vitamins, talk to your doctor and medical team to determine if a multivitamin or supplement is right for you.