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Why Is a Multivitamin Important When Dieting?

by
author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Why Is a Multivitamin Important When Dieting?
A woman is measuring her waist with a tape measure. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The majority of vitamins and minerals you consume should be found in your everyday balanced diet. A multivitamin should be taken just in case you’re not getting these nutrients in your food. There is no evidence that taking a multivitamin will add quality or years to your life, but it’s an easy way to avoid vitamin deficiency.

Types

There are multivitamins commonly used for children, women, men, the elderly and pregnant women. There is not much difference between men and women’s multivitamins except men’s multivitamins may have the added bonus of vitamins that promote prostate health. Women’s vitamins typically have more iron because of monthly menstruation. Elderly vitamins will have little to no iron and an increased amount of vitamins B12 and D. Prenatal multivitamins contain additional folic acid and may have DHA.

Benefits

If you’re dieting to lose weight, your diet should consist of cutting calories, not nutrients. By consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, you should be able to get your daily requirement of vitamins. However, a multivitamin will protect you from health consequences from vitamin deficiencies. Health consequences such as vitamin deficiency anemia have symptoms such as pale skin, fatigue, irritability, mental confusion and diarrhea. Folic acid in a prenatal multivitamin prevents neural tube defects in newborns and lowers the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and breast cancer, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Some common vitamins you receive in multivitamins are vitamin A that promotes eye and skin health, vitamin C for your immune system and collagen production, and vitamin D for building bone strength.

Recommendations

All young women should take a prenatal vitamin because 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, according to Michael Roizen, M.D, the chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. A pregnancy will change your diet because you will need an additional 300 calories per day during your second and third trimesters. For all diets, it’s important that you have 600mg of calcium, 500 IU of vitamin D, and 200mg of magnesium twice per day. Do not take two multivitamins, but Roizen recommends taking half a multivitamin twice per day.

Considerations

If you are taking a multivitamin that has folic acid, avoid consuming super-fortified folic acid foods. Do not take more vitamins than the standard recommended dose since too much can have negative effects on your health. If you have a vitamin deficiency of B-12, your doctor may give you an injection of the vitamin. Other vitamin deficiencies in your diet can typically be treated with supplements or diet changes.

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