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What Using Multivitamins Every Day Does to Your Body

Expert shares what to know about multivitamins before taking them. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

While it's recommended to get your essential vitamins from natural sources like food and sunlight if possible, vitamin deficiencies are real and many turn to supplements to get much needed nutrients. According to John Hopkins, "Half of all American adults—including 70 percent of those age 65 and older—take a multivitamin or another vitamin or mineral supplement regularly." While millions rely on multivitamins to help fill in the nutritional gaps they're missing, they're not for everyone some experts warn. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD as the Clearing Chief Medical Officer who shares what to know about multivitamins and what taking them daily can do. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why People Take Multivitamins

Dr. Hascalovici says, "People may feel that multivitamins are simply a good idea or that multivitamins may help cover their nutritional bases. There's also a perception that multivitamins aren't harmful and that they can be part of a healthy everyday routine. In any case, people in the U.S. spend a total of $1.5 billion on vitamins and supplements every year, testifying to vitamins' enduring popularity."


What to Know Before Taking Multivitamins


Dr. Hascalovici explains, "The first thing to ask yourself when considering vitamins is whether you need to take them "from a bottle" at all. While it seems easy and convenient to swallow a multivitamin per day, the U.S. government states that most people can get the vitamins and minerals they need directly from their food (which underscores the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and lean proteins)."


What to Look for in a Multivitamin

woman taking vitamin D3

According to Dr. Hascalovici, "Vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the same FDA protocols as medication is, and so they may not be uniform or as comprehensively tested. If you do decide to take a multivitamin, look for one bottled in dark glass or plastic (to block sunlight). Check to make sure it doesn't contain fillers or extra sugar and also does not contain fat-soluble vitamins at daily levels that exceed Tolerable Upper Level Intakes (ULs). Also veer toward vitamins from natural sources, as synthetically produced vitamins and supplements may not act the same way in your body."


A Multivitamin Can Boost Your Vitamin B

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Vitamin B plays an essential role in our overall health and has wide ranging benefits from boosting energy levels to healthy brain function. Taking a multivitamin can help get the essential vitamin we need. Dr. Hascalovici shares, "If you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, for example, it's important to make sure you're getting enough folic acid (vitamin B9). B vitamins in general are very important, and often work better as part of a multiplex, so if you do decide on taking multivitamins, make sure they contain B vitamins. B12, for example, can help vegetarians who may not be ingesting enough of it naturally."


You Can Get Your Dose of Vitamin D

young woman in fair isle turtleneck taking supplement while standing outdoors
Shutterstock / Antonio Guillem

"Along with aging comes higher risks of osteoporosis and nutritional imbalances, so if you're over 50, you may wish to do more weight-bearing exercise and to supplement (under your doctor's counsel) with vitamin D and calcium," Dr. Hascalovici states. "In general, many Americans are low on vitamin D. If you suspect you might be low in vitamin D too, it's worth getting tested for it and adjusting accordingly. Due to not getting enough fruits, vegetables, and vitamin-rich foods in general, many Americans exhibit micronutrient deficiencies, meaning they do not meet the ideal level of many common vitamins. In some cases, a multivitamin can help fill these needs."


Taking Too Many Multivitamins is Harmful

Female doctor talking while explaining medical treatment to patient through a video call with laptop in the consultation.

Dr. Hascalovici warns, "While vitamins and supplements are often presented as innocuous, it's not always advisable to take more than 100% of the recommended dose of any particular vitamin or supplement. For one thing, the body cannot always process or use that high of a daily dose. It's possible, for example, to ingest too much of certain vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin A and even vitamin D. For another thing, certain vitamins and supplements can interfere with other vitamins, supplements, or bodily functions. Finally, for many reasons, it's best to talk to your doctor or nutritionist before starting on vitamins and supplements outside of your normal diet." 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather