Why should you take supplements?
Ideally, our bodies would get all the nutrients they need from food alone. For many reasons, though, that isn’t currently feasible for much of the globe. That’s where multivitamins come in — for all of us.
Due to age, our immune system, metabolism, and mobility decline, to mention some aspects of health. Besides taking multivitamins, there are several ways to support these aspects and promote energy and longevity. But, let's focus on the basics and look at the top benefits of multivitamins.
What does a multivitamin do for you?
Have you ever asked yourself “what will a multivitamin do for me, anyway?” Here are three top multivitamin benefits.
1. Overall said, multivitamins can pick up where nutrition leaves off
Getting everything you need from diet alone can be challenging enough as it is. On top of that; food quality isn’t what it used to be. One reason for this is soil degradation.
When the soil suffers, the crops suffer — and that’s why most of the fruits and vegetables on the market today aren’t exactly bursting with the same levels of nutritional goodness that you’d find in the fruits and vegetables of decades past.
The good news is that a high-quality multivitamin can help keep you well-nourished.
2. A quality multivitamin can support brain function and health
Research suggests that multivitamins might support brain health and cognitive function as we age. This includes not just how well you think, but your overall mood and well-being.
This makes perfect sense, considering that there is a strong connection between what you eat and how you feel — cf. the proverbial saying "you are what you eat". If what you fuel your body with isn’t enough, a multivitamin can bridge the gap.
3. Multivitamins can promote eye health
Research is ongoing but thus far suggests that a multivitamin can help keep your eyes healthy as you age. That’s because a high-quality multivitamin should be formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that support normal vision.
So, what happens to your body when you start taking multivitamins?
While everyone’s experience is unique, due to the benefits that the individual nutrients offer, you might experience (among other things):
- Improved energy production
- A healthier stress response
- Alertness and clarity
- Healthier hair, skin, and nails
- Better muscle recovery in between training sessions
A November 2021 report associated daily multi-vitamin use over three years with 60% slower cognitive aging. Another study found that, compared to non-users, those taking multivitamins had 5.1% longer telomeres on average.* Shorter telomeres are a biomarker of aging linked to accelerated aging.
A part from what is already mentioned above; dosing vitamins and minerals of the highest quality also supports cardiovascular wellness, bone health, digestive ease, and joint health. In other words; multivitamins at this level has immense benefits beyond protection against deficiencies.
Deficiencies and deficient multivitamins
Studies show that Europeans don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals. There are many reasons for this. Many older people eat less, making them more prone to developing vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Chronic conditions increase the need for some vitamins and minerals. Medications may lower levels of critical nutrients, especially B vitamins. And older adults have a decreased capacity to absorb and use many nutrients.
Most multivitamins don’t fix the problem of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Rather, they give many people a false sense of security that they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
The vast majority of multivitamins use nutritional targets set by the federal government. These targets tend to represent the minimum level of any nutrient required to sustain life, not the amount that will maximize healthy longevity. *
In addition, few available products contain optimal forms of nutrients. For example, folic acid (or folate) needs to be converted by the body into the metabolically active form, 5-MTHF.
This is of particular importance, as approximately 40% of people carry a gene variant that impairs their ability to convert folate into its active form: 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
So, which multivitamins should you choose?
There are many options for multivitamins, and how do you know which formulas are best for you? Let's find out.
What you put in your body is important, and supplements are no different. Here are a few things to consider before selecting a multivitamin:
- In what amounts do the individual ingredients exist? Is it enough? Too much?
- How are the ingredients sourced? Is the brand transparent with its production process? You should be able to get a Certificate of Analysis for any vitamin or supplement.
- Does it have additive products like sweeteners or preservatives? Is it non-GMO and gluten-free?
* As mentioned several times above, not all multivitamins are created equal, and the findings for the benefits mentioned above do not apply to all multivitamins. Many multivitamins contain the minimal dosage necessary to prevent diseases like scurvy and osteomalacia.
Larger amounts of some nutrients are often needed to promote healthy longevity. Also, inadequate dosages can be especially problematic for older adults who have more difficulty absorbing nutrients.
Therefore, doing your due diligence — and also learning how to read nutrition labels like a pro — is going to work in your favor. As you’re choosing one, look for a supplement that contains:
- Vitamin A: Important for vision, growth, reproduction, and immune health.
- Vitamin C: Involved in protein metabolism, skin health, and healthy immune function.
- Vitamin D3: Promotes bone health, energy, and positive mental health.
- Folate: Important in the formation of red blood cells, as well as cell growth and function. (It’s especially important for pregnant women to get enough folate!)
- Biotin: Plays a critical role in the metabolism of fatty acids, glucose, and amino acids.
- Iodine: Important for supporting thyroid health, particularly for expectant mothers.
- Magnesium: A must-have for muscle/nerve function and supporting already-healthy glucose and blood pressure levels.
- Boron: Benefits both your brain (cognition and memory) and your bones.
This list isn’t exhaustive but should give you a good idea of where to start.
- Life Extension's Two-Per-Day Capsules >> have the highest nutritional potencies of any science-based multivitamin formula that can fit inside two daily capsules.
- Get full-spectrum coverage of the many nutrients that your body requires every day with state-of-the-art multi-nutrient formula Life Extension Mix™ >>
- All Life Extensions multivitamins >>
- Read more: What are Everyday essentials? >>
What is the most important vitamin for your body?
Your body needs a number of vitamins and minerals in order to do its job. That being said, there are certain nutrients that your body cannot make on its own.
When that being said; vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin” (your body produces it in response to sunlight), is by many considered the most important vitamin — because, without vitamin D, your body won’t absorb these other important vitamins, resulting in soft bones and teeth in children or osteoporosis as an adult.
It has multiple important functions, the most vital being the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D is crucial for bone growth and some colon functions; as well as your heart, due to its role in muscular and nervous systems. It also supports the correct functioning of your immune system and may possibly help prevent cancer.
It’s very difficult to get the correct amount of vitamin D from the foods you eat, alone. It’s found mostly in fatty fish and dairy. The best way to get vitamin D is still sun exposure, which many are short of. Other than these means, supplements are the only way to get vitamin D.
Read more blogs on efficient supplementation
- What are Everyday essentials? >>
- Why should you supplement with omega-3s? >>
- Brain-restoring impact of magnesium L-threonate >>
- Vitamin D’s immune benefits >>
- Senolytics is a major advance in anti-aging >>
- NAD+: Stem cell renewal & mitochondria regeneration >>
- 5 ways curcumin can help you stay healthy >>
- How to strengthen your immune system >>
- Fight your fatigue with French oak wood extract >>
- Could you use a little more energy? >>
- See all the blog posts >>
- Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK51837/. Accessed October 16, 2020.
- Moll S, Varga EA. Homocysteine and MTHFR Mutations. Circulation. 2015 Jul 7;132(1):e6-9.
- Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/962772. Accessed February 28, 2022.
- Xu Q, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;89(6):1857-63.
- Vaiserman A, Krasnienkov D. Telomere Length as a Marker of Biological Age: State-of-the-Art, Open Issues, and Future Perspectives. Front Genet. 2020 2021-January-21;11:630186.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary. National Academies Press (US). 2010.
- Brazier, Yvette. "What are vitamins, and how do they work?" Medical News Today, December 2020, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/195878#what_are_vitamins
- Kyung Lee, Hye et al. “Effects of Multivitamin Supplements on Cognitive Function, Serum Homocysteine Level, and Depression of Korean Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment in Care Facilities.” J Nurs Scholarsh., May 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26878196/
- Macpherson, Helen et al. “Neurocognitive effects of multivitamin supplementation on the steady state visually evoked potential (SSVEP) measure of brain activity in elderly women.” Physiol Behav., October 2012, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22939764/
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Vitamin A.” Mayo Clinic, November 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-a/art-20365945
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Folate (folic acid).” Mayo Clinic, February 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625
- Sathyanarayana, Rao, T.S. et al. “Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses.” Indian J Psychiatry, April 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
- Silver, W. L. et al. “The role of soil in the contribution of food and feed.” Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Bil Sci., September 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC8349637/
- Zhao, Li-Quan et al. “The effect of multivitamin/mineral supplements on age-related cataracts: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrients, February 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24590236/
- “Biotin.” National Institutes of Health, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/
- “Magnesium.” National Institutes of Health, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
- “The Best Time to Take Vitamins.” Cleveland Clinic, April 2021, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-best-time-to-take-vitamins/
- “The Connection Between Diet And Mental Health.” The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, April 2020, https://centerforanxietydisorders.com/diet-and-mental-health/
- “Vitamin C.” National Institutes of Health, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
- “Vitamin D Deficiency.” Cleveland Clinic, October 2019, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d--vitamin-d-deficiency
- “Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults.” National Institute on Aging, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-minerals-older-adults