Multivitamins provide a safe dosage of several vitamins for individuals looking to pump extra nutrients into their body alongside those obtained through a standard diet. Most multivitamins contain vitamin C, which plays a vital role in maintaining your body's basic functions. Never replace a standard diet with a regimen of multivitamins, however; only use multivitamins for supplementary purposes.
Benefit of Daily Multivitamin Use
Daily multivitamins, when taken in conjunction with a generally well-balanced diet, serve to fill in any nutritional gaps your diet misses. According to Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, multivitamins act as an "insurance policy" of sorts, providing an extra dose of vitamins for the elderly and other individuals at high risk of nutritional deficits. Even healthy individuals who consume three square meals a day typically experience "off" days where they receive less of the nutrients their body needs. Diets built around fast food and pre-packaged foods rarely contain all the necessary vitamins. Pollutants like smog, as Stanislaus County Health Services Agency continues to explain, also drain our bodies of nutrients.
Importance of Vitamin C
Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin naturally found in citrus fruits, berries and several other fruits and vegetables, is necessary for optimum health. As the Harvard School of Public Health explains, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant capable of neutralizing free radicals that damage DNA. It also helps control infections, make collagen, repair tissues in your body and heal wounds. The University of Maryland Medical Center also claims that the vitamin plays some part in protecting against heart disease and high blood pressure, among other possible yet inconclusive conditions.
According to MedlinePlus, the Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin C rests at 90 milligrams for men and 75 mg for women, with the upper limit set at 2 g each day. Amounts vary further depending on other conditions that impact your health. Smokers may need an additional 35 mg. Dr. Jane Higdon, a Linus Pauling Institute research associate, states that most multivitamins contain approximately 60 mg of vitamin C, while five servings of fruits and vegetables average around 200 mg. The Harvard School of Public Health, in fact, recommends aiming for a total of 200 to 300 mg daily, an achievable amount for someone who regularly eats fruits and vegetables and supplements their diet with a standard multivitamin.
Taking too much vitamin C can lead to several health difficulties. According to Julie Garden-Robinson, a Food and Nutrition Specialist at North Dakota State University, high doses of vitamin C can lead to diarrhea and abnormalities within the urinary tract. Supplements containing vitamin C often help the body expel excess fluid but may worsen dehydration in individuals who lack enough fluids. Consult your doctor before taking a multivitamin with vitamin C if you are pregnant, diabetic, undergoing cancer treatment, suffering from kidney problems or suffering from a medical condition that causes an abnormal imbalance of nutrients in your body.
- Stanislaus County Health Services Agency: A Vitamin a Day to Keep the Doctor Away
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- North Dakota State University - Agriculture; Q&A about Dietary Supplements, Julie Garden-Robinson; 1997
- Oregon State University - Linus Pauling Institute; What to Look for in a Multivitamin Supplement; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; November 2003
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin C
- The University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C
- Stanford University - Knowledge Systems, AI Laboratory: The Consumer Guide to Multivitamins
- Harvard School of Public Health: Nutrition Insurance Policy - A Daily Multivitamin