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Myth busters: The truth about multivitamins

There are lots of myths surrounding multivitamins, and much of what you assume to be true may actually be wrong. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest misconceptions.

Myth 1: All multivitamins are created equal

Supplements come in different colours and forms, but essentially they are all the same, right? Not really. Before you grab for the cheapest one you can find, think about how and where these supplements are manufactured. Some multivitamins aren’t made to high quality, manufacturing and safety standards, so look out for those that are.

It is advisable to always read the labels on the packaging and study the ingredients listed. Some multivitamins also include natural botanical extracts, as well as various minerals to support your healthy diet. There are also multivitamin options without added gluten, lactose, yeast or artificial flavours, so always look at the classified allergen ingredients listed in bold should you have any dietary restrictions.

It is essential to find a trusted, high-quality brand that follows best practices and standards of manufacturing, and has a solid reputation for extensive and thorough research.

Myth 2: All I get from multivitamins is expensive urine

A common cause of doubt when taking multivitamins is seeing urine turn a more intense colour. Are you just peeing out all the good stuff? The truth is, it is actually normal to see bright yellow urine when taking multivitamins. The presence of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin is responsible for this colour change. It is a sign your body has absorbed what it needs that day and excretes what it doesn’t need.  

Myth 3: It’s okay to take the same vitamins as my kids, spouse or friends

No two persons share the exact same diet and lifestyle. In fact, age, gender, changing nutritional requirements and health conditions must be considered when choosing multivitamins.

Look for supplements that are tailored for your specific needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all supplement. Adult women (anywhere from about 18 to 50) should take supplements that contain high levels of iron to support normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin.
Adult males will prefer vitamins with higher levels of zinc which support normal fertility and reproduction. And seniors should  consider vitamin formulas that have vitamin D3 & vitamin K2 which helps to support the maintenance of bones. Some multivitamins also contain botanical extracts that are carefully selected for the relevance to certain genders and ages.

Myth 4: I eat healthy, so I don’t need to take multivitamins

Indeed, a supplement can’t make up for unhealthy eating habits; striving to eat a balanced diet is the important first step for achieving optimal health. But in reality, for most of us, despite having a healthy and varied diet, it is advisable to top-up with a food supplement to ensure we are getting all our recommended daily nutrients.

According to family practitioner Dr Leslie Tay, “a diet that is higher in fruits and vegetables and less in meats, fats and sugar is a good balanced diet.” People who can’t or don’t eat a wide variety of foods, such as those who have allergies or are on a vegetarian or calorie-restricted diet, may miss out on certain essential nutrients. Also, some vitamins – such as vitamin D – can be hard to come by in most diets. A good multivitamin-mineral complex can help bridge these nutritional gaps.

The fact is that many people can benefit from adding an appropriate multivitamin to their daily diet, and those benefits become more obvious over a sustained period. What is most important is to do your research, weigh your options and carefully consider which supplement you should take according to your unique health needs and lifestyle.