Hey Laura, should I take a multivitamin?

Heather writes:

What do you think about vitamin supplements?  We’ve been giving Lily a multi-vitamin daily since she was about 2 and was not eating much.  We still do, just because I think it probably makes up for the stuff we miss.  I don’t take any vitamins, except for iron a week or so before I go give blood (if I remember).  I was really good about taking my pre-natals, but have never been very good about vitamins, should I try and make them a part of my routine?

Probably not. Study results are mixed as to whether taking a multivitamin is more likely to benefit your health or kill you.

Haha! I’m sure that there’s a middle ground where the occasional vitamin pill to “fill in the gaps” isn’t going to do much harm (or much good, for that matter, other than psychologically!), but that should in no way be misconstrued as permission to ignore what your body really needs: a well-rounded, nutritionally complete diet.

All authorities agree that the best source of vitamins and minerals is the food we eat. (Or, should be eating!) If you’re thinking a multivitamin might be necessary, a better bet is to work on adding nutrient-rich foods to your diet instead.

Nutrient-rich foods are not vitamin-fortified breads and cereals! That’s essentially like relying on a pill to get your vitamins - not nearly as good as the real thing. (One of the exceptions to this is folate, which is actually better absorbed as folic acid in fortified foods.)

Your diet should be mostly comprised of whole foods (for example, a whole avocado, not guacamole in a jar or reconstituted from a powder), mostly plants - don’t forget nuts and seeds, and organic meat (if you eat it) from grass-fed livestock, pastured chickens (or their eggs), or sustainably-raised wild fish. You can refer to this handy list of some of “the world’s healthiest foods” here.

If that feels overwhelming (particularly to your wallet), read my article on eating healthy on the cheap. :)

The jury is still out on kids’ multivitamins, too. Certainly, healthy full-term breastfed babies under 6 months old need nothing but breastmilk. Toddlers could benefit during the “picky eating” stage, but don’t use the supplement as a crutch! Keep on plugging away at diversifying your kids’ palates and introducing new foods time after time. They learn from you, so make sure you model adventurous eating as well.

I have posted previously about toddler nutrition here and supplements during and after pregnancy here. Head on over. :)

The only supplement that I might recommend is Omega-3 DHA. Research suggests that it has a wide range of health benefits and disease prevention. It is essential for healthy brain growth in babies and kids. I know my family doesn’t eat enough fish, algae, or flax/hemp/chia to get adequate amounts of these essential oils. I still take my prenatal omega supplement, but finding one that is kid friendly (ie: no nasty fish taste) has been difficult.

These Omega-3 Gummies for kids get good reviews on Amazon and I’m very intrigued by the orange flavored squeeze packets - good for the whole family! If you’re looking for a vegetarian source of DHA, here’s one.

And, because it’s that time of year - when all the kiddies get together in the classroom and share their germs - I’m sending you all over to my Natural Immunity Boosters post! Go! Eat garlic! Be well!

Hey Laura, I think... Hey Laura, should I take a multivitamin?

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