In Defense of the Multivitamin…


$28 Billion in Annual Sales

It seems like I need to be angry to Blog lately.  I don’t really understand it, I’m usually a pretty even-keeled guy.  If you’ve read any of the recent news headlines, you’ve probably heard that “multivitamins are a waste of money”. Ugh – this story has been all over the media this week.  Needless to say, this kind of nonsense irritates me.   

If you haven’t read or heard any of these reports, the gist of things is that for the nearly half of all Americans (150-million and counting), their daily multivitamin isn’t providing any additional benefit in a reduced risk for cancer, cognitive decline, heart disease, stroke, or any other big-ticket illness one would generally choose to avoid.  The articles continue by saying that due to the abundance of our food supply as well as the prevalence of fortified foods, vitamins are in essence a waste of time and money…


“We believe that it’s clear that vitamins are not working,”

               ~Dr. Eliseo Guallar (Co-Author of the studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Dec 17, 2013)


Let me be clear: Vitamin supplements are prevalent and vitamin supplements ARE working.  Iodine was added to table salt in the 1920’s because nearly 1/3 of the U.S. population lived in an area where iodine was inaccessible.  To this day it costs less that $0.05 per person per year to put enough iodine into the food supply to prevent developmental delays and goiter.  That’s pretty inexpensive.  The real conversation should not be “whether or not vitamins are a waste of money”, it should be “how much is enough and how can we get it more reliably (preferably through food).”

In fact many foods are either enriched or fortified – basically they are sprayed with liquid vitamins during the manufacturing process to either replace nutrients loss during processing (breads, grains etc) or to deliberately increase the amount of a given nutrient (vitamin D in milk/orange juice or baby formula).

What this article is REALLY saying is that a daily Multi-Vitamin is NOT a cure-all for an unhealthy lifestyle.  I mean, if you are taking a multivitamin with your bacon-double cheeseburger, aren’t you kind of missing the point?  We must remember that vitamins are supplements not lifestyle replacements…


It’s good advice to get your vitamins and minerals from food-stuffs, but that may not be possible for everyone.  The best reasons to take a  multivitamin are to supplement inconsistent diets or to help reduce known deficiencies – and should be tailored to the individual.  For example: Blogger Extraordinaire and Florida Native, my Mother shouldn’t have any trouble getting enough Vitamin D throughout the year; but I – being a Seattle resident, am on a 5000IU/day regiment.  Trust me, it’s worth the money. 

Sometimes it’s good to add a general multivitamin.  I was a Flinstone kid and I turned out G-R-E-A-T!

                  Multivitamins would be appropriate for:

                             – Children with picky/limited eating habits

                             -People on restricted diets (Atkins, Post Surgery, Gastric Bypass, Vegans)

                             -People with increased needs (pregnant/Pre-Pregnant Women)

                             -People with absorption challenges (bowel resection, Chron’s disease, chronic 

                                    inflammation, the elderly, etc)

                             -People who are gluten-free (GF foods are not required to be fortified)

                             -People with food groups missing (by a food allergy, or adversion)

Before you write off the Multivitamin for good, take an honest look at your diet.  If you are getting your 5-servings (1/2 cup each) of Vegetables, and your 3-4 servings (1/2 cup each) of Fruits every day (along with your fortified grains, nuts, low-fat dairy and lean proteins) – a Multivitamin WOULD probably be a waste of your time… but how many of us can really, truly say that?


About ChefAdamRD

Chef by day, Dietitian by night. Weekends are spent in my sleepy water town just south of Seattle, enjoying rainy days with my lovely wife, Ray; and our two dogs. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember; it's taken me all over the World and I'm so excited to be collaborating on this Blog with my Mother. I hope you all find something you weren't even looking for. Keep checking back for new content!
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1 Response to In Defense of the Multivitamin…

  1. Jeffrey Dach says:

    If we don’t need vitamin supplements in our food, then why do we have fortified breakfast cereals with added iron, B12,thiamine and folate ? Why does the USDA Dept of Agriculture Food Guidelines recommend B12 supplements for all adults over 50, and folate for all women of child bearing ages? Why did we add iodine to table salt, also called iodized salt? Perhaps the editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine advising us to avoid vitamins is merely drug industry propaganda… For more…
    jeffrey dach md


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