Why Take a Multivitamin?

Monday December 21, 2015

Written by Dr. Miranda Wiley, ND, BSc (Nutrition)
Naturopathic Physician
MegaFood Canadian Product Educator


In today’s modern world with the abundance of available and inexpensive food it can be difficult to consider that nutritional deficiencies still abound and are often at the root of poor health.  Restoring and optimizing nutritional intake may be enough to reverse some mild health conditions, and is an essential step for creating a strong physical foundation for more targeted therapies and treatments in severe or chronic conditions.

How can diet not be enough to meet nutritional needs?  There are a number of reasons why, including current farming practices and the demands that we place on our bodies in today’s fast-paced world.

Modern farming has a focus on physical yield over nutritional content.  Historical practices of regenerating lost nutrients through compost and manure is often missed for the sake of profit.  Traditional farming practice used techniques such as crop rotation in which land would be dedicated to a crop with a shallow root system one year, followed by crops with increasingly deeper root systems over subsequent years, and allowing the ground to “rest” and remain unplanted for a season before beginning the pattern again.  This allowed for minerals from each depth of soil to be taken up by the food.  Now, minerals are increasingly depleted in the soil and that lack is reflected in the food.  Even “fresh” foods may have been picked several weeks earlier while unripe and transported to a distant area for sale, and/or processed into convenience foods, and this leads to nutritionally inferior foodstuffs. Refined foods can drain our nutritional reserves while eating on the run, at desks, in front of TV, or in a hurry impairs digestion and reduces our ability to absorb what nutrients are present in the foods we eat.

A daily multivitamin is not a replacement for choosing high quality food and moderating stress levels, but it does help to supply an added boost of nutrients to support our bodies in today’s world. Thinking about what goes into their supplements is not something many people do. Just as farm-fresh food from conscientious farmers who care about the land and the food that they produce is more beneficial than “foods” built on mass commodity ingredients, quality whole food supplements can provide more benefit than isolated nutrients made in a laboratory.  In recent years, researchers have discovered a myriad of other compounds which are collectively known as phytonutrients.  Together with macro and micronutrients, these phytonutrients make up the whole food matrix. When the food matrix is consumed in its entirety, the benefits experienced are much greater than if each of these compounds were to be consumed separately.  The benefit of whole food supplements that incorporate this whole food matrix is as superior to their synthesized counterparts as whole food nutrition is to mass produced foods.