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Should Everyone Take Multivitamins? Are They Needed At All? See What Experts Say

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New Delhi: In India’s vast dietary landscape, the need for multivitamin supplements is a topic of debate. A balanced traditional Indian diet typically encompasses a wide range of essential nutrients, but many of us have been encouraged to take multivitamins in order to meet a variety of nutritional needs. Multivitamins are supplements that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, often in combination with other components. Because there is no universal definition of what constitutes a multivitamin, the nutrient composition varies by brand and product. 

But, should everyone take multivitamins? And, are they required at all? To answer this question, ABP Live sought the opinions of experts who explained who should take multivitamins and also warned about the adverse effects it can have if taken in excess.

Dr. Sujit Chatterjee, CEO at Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai said, “In general, I would advise that individuals do not need to take a multivitamin on a daily basis unless there is a specific need. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats should provide most people with essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Focus on maintaining a healthy diet instead, which can have a negative impact on your health, and consider consulting with a health professional to discuss any specific health problems or dietary habits to determine if a multivitamin they’re additionally suitable for your own needs.”

Also Read: Can Fruits Be Consumed If You Are A Diabetic Or Trying To Lose Weight?

What Happens If Multivitamins Are Consumed Without A Deficiency?

In this regard, Dr. Rahul Tambe, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai said, “First let’s understand the difference between the need for specific supplements and multivitamins. The latter, when consumed without a clear deficiency, could lead to over-nutrition, posing risks of excessive intake of certain nutrients. For instance, while vitamin A is vital for several bodily functions, its overconsumption can be detrimental.”

“Furthermore, India has a long tradition of consuming local and seasonal foods, which are both sustainable and rich in diverse nutrients. Prioritizing these foods can often reduce the perceived need for supplementary vitamins. Moreover, for many Indian families, the regular purchase of multivitamins might not be financially viable, especially when the same resources can be utilised for a varied diet,” he further added.

Given the difference of views surrounding this topic, the choice leads to individual assessment. Before adding any supplements to one’s diet, it’s imperative to consult with your physician. They can provide guidance tailored to personal dietary habits and health conditions, ensuring that decisions are made in the best interest of your well-being.

Also Read: How Often Should Body Oil Be Changed And How Frequently Can You Use Oil On Hair?

Complications Of Taking Multivitamins Without A Vitamin Deficiency:

Taking multivitamins without a specific vitamin deficiency can lead to several complications, as excessive intake of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful to your health.

“Overvitaminosis due to multivitamin consumption without doctors’ advice can lead to many side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, blurred vision, heartburn, bloating, kidney stones etc. Also, many multivitamin tablets contain minerals such as calcium, Iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Minerals if taken in large doses can cause side effects like tooth straining, increased urination, stomach bleeding, uneven heart rate, confusion and muscle weakness etc,” said Dr Soumita Biswas, Chief Nutritionist, at Aster RV Hospital.

Here are some potential complications of taking multivitamins without a deficiency pointed out by Dr Vineesh Sukumaran, MD Physician, Fellowship in Diabetology, Consultant Internal Medicine, Apollo Clinic, HSR Layout.

Vitamin Toxicity: Some vitamins, like fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, can accumulate in the body and reach toxic levels if consumed in excess. This can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and even more severe complications.

Interference with Medications: Certain vitamins and minerals can interact with medications you may be taking, reducing their effectiveness or causing adverse reactions.

Digestive Issues: High doses of certain vitamins and minerals can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps.

Cardiovascular Issues: Taking excessive amounts of certain vitamins, like vitamin E, may increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, including heart disease.

Kidney Problems: High doses of some vitamins and minerals can put a strain on the kidneys and may lead to kidney stones or other kidney-related problems.

Masking Underlying Conditions: Taking multivitamins may mask symptoms of underlying health conditions, making it more challenging for healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat these conditions in a timely manner.

Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to specific vitamins or other ingredients in the multivitamin, leading to allergic reactions.

Imbalance of Nutrients: Multivitamins may not provide the right balance of nutrients for every individual, as nutritional needs vary depending on age, sex, health status, and other factors.

Unnecessary Expenses: Multivitamins can be expensive and taking them without a clear need may lead to unnecessary spending.

Also Read: Can Papaya And Pineapple Be Consumed During Pregnancy?

When Should One Take Multivitamins?

Multivitamins providing up to 100% of the daily Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are generally safe and typically do not cause side effects when taken as directed. Our body requires only small quantities of vitamins and minerals daily, and a diverse diet usually supplies sufficient amounts of each nutrient.

Nevertheless, certain individuals, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women, may require supplements to address vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Also, research indicates that multivitamins do not appear to offer significant benefits for safeguarding the brain or heart, as per Dr. Jeevan Aggarwal, Associate Director, Internal Medicine, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.

He also said, “It is crucial to bear in mind that a multivitamin cannot replace a balanced and nutritious diet. Its primary purpose is to fill potential nutritional gaps, offering only a fraction of the wide array of beneficial nutrients and natural compounds found in food. As it lacks fibre and the enjoyment of food flavours, which are vital components of a healthy diet, a multivitamin cannot replicate these aspects.”

“However, multivitamins can be valuable when dietary requirements are not fully met. In such cases, there is no need for expensive brand names, as even standard store brands can be effective. When selecting a multivitamin, look for one that contains the Recommended Daily Allowance amounts,” he further added.

Thus, multivitamins are not the path to get optimal health. In fact, it harms if taken overdosage of multivitamins without any deficiency. Many people take multivitamins to compensate for a poor diet. Eating a balanced diet with more fruits and vegetables can fulfil the requirements of vitamins and minerals in a better way. If one has a deficiency of any particular vitamins, they can opt for vitamin supplements as per Doctor’s advice.

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