July 4, 2024

Multivitamins Prevent Deficiencies, And Also Do Much More

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Manisha B K

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Col (Dr) Surendra Ramamurthy

Healthcare Technology & Digital Health Advisor and Military Veteran (Doctor)

Multivitamins Prevent Deficiencies, And Also Do Much More
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Have you ever imagined a magical pill that can fix all your health concerns? Our physiological and cognitive functioning are heavily dependent on vitamins and minerals (the micronutrients).

The right levels of vitamins and minerals in the body help maintain the immune system, mucous membranes, bones, and tissues. However, injuries, sickness, motherhood, and growing age also deplete our bodies of vitamins and minerals. 

What are multivitamins supplements?

Are multivitamin supplements magical pills? Supplements are not dreamy pills that can magically cure all your diseases. However, consistent intake of external supplements supports all kinds of deficiencies or dysfunctions over a period to replace lost nutrition.

External supplements are micronutrient or bioactive supplements that are consumed orally, sublingually, or through injections. Their purpose is to mimic the functions of vitamins and minerals that we absorb from food but deplete due to various health conditions. 

Types of dietary supplements 

  • Functional foods: 

Functional foods are foods that are fortified with micronutrients or macronutrients to support certain health conditions. Orange juice is a natural food, whereas orange juice fortified with vitamins C and D can be called a functional food.

Protein powders that can be mixed with milk or water for daily consumption are functional foods. Foods fortified with fiber (psyllium husk, bran, beta-glucan) are functional foods. 

Functional foods do not need a pharmaceutical license and a drug dosage. They are generally low in potency. 

  • Nutraceuticals: 

Nutraceuticals are external dietary supplements that come in capsules, pills, powders, oral strips, or ampoules. They help treat all kinds of deficiencies and support healthy body functioning. 

Nutraceuticals have high potency compared to functional foods and need a pharmaceutical license with an established dosage. 

How can I know my deficiencies?

Deficiencies can be identified with blood tests and anthropometric measurements. There are various types of deficiencies, and the causes can be many.

Both macro and micronutrients are essential to maintaining healthy cellular functions. The interactions between vitamins, minerals, and enzymes become the bedrock of metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

 Deficiencies can be caused by:

  • Malnourishment (insufficient dietary intake)
  • Malabsorption (due to injuries, surgeries, anatomical dysfunctions) 
  • Underweight or obesity
  • Genetic conditions (enzyme deficiencies, allergies) 
  • Exclusive iron deficiency anemia.
  • Deficiencies due to multiple medications.

Is it good to take multivitamin supplements every day?

Supplements are often prescribed by a qualified nutritionist or a physician. Although supplements are available over the counter, it is always advisable to learn the dosage and the contraindications of a particular supplement to avoid dangerous health consequences. 

Supplements can be taken daily for a specified period as advised by the nutritionist/physician. Certain supplements (especially fat-soluble supplements like vitamins A, D, E, and K) can cause toxicity if the dosage exceeds the normal range and period. 

Fat-soluble external vitamin supplements should not exceed the daily limits to avoid toxicity. However, B vitamins and vitamin C are water-soluble, and hence, they do not carry the risk of toxicity. Mineral supplements can also be highly toxic if the dosage exceeds the daily limits. 

Always seek professional guidance to avoid overdosing. (Taking Too Many Vitamins? Side Effects of Vitamin Overdosing, n.d.)

How and when to take multivitamins?

Multivitamin supplements can be taken if the health care professional identifies a deficiency. The supplements are established with an RDA (recommended daily allowance) in their composition. External supplements are consumed when the blood tests for a particular micronutrient show abnormally low. 

Functional foods can be consumed without prescriptions. As we discussed above, functional foods are natural foods with fortifications and added enzymes that help promote minor health concerns like constipation (like added fiber and fermented drinks) and protein insufficiency (protein powders).

While functional foods can be taken every day as long as they suit the person's needs, multivitamin supplements are supposed to be taken only for a particular period of time with an established daily dose. 

How often should I change my vitamins?

Vitamin and mineral supplements should be changed by observing the symptoms in the body. For example, excessive iron supplementation can have dangerous consequences, such as gastrointestinal changes, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, nausea, and headaches, and it can be toxic. However, pregnant and lactating women are supposed to have supplemental formulations with higher doses of iron, folic acid, and calcium. 

With age, supplement dosage changes, and so do the formulations. For example, formulations for children are mostly focused on vitamin D, A, C, calcium, B vitamins, and protein. Supplemental formulations for younger people focus on iron, calcium, zinc, and folic acid. Geriatric formulations are mostly focused on energy-stimulating bioactives, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, magnesium, potassium, selenium, collagen, and omega 3. 

Hence, supplemental formulations are always advised to keep changing with the growing age and health needs.

Multivitamins and the occurrence of chronic diseases

Can external supplementation reduce the occurrence of communicable and non-communicable diseases like cancer, CVD, stroke, etc?

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the best judges to weigh the pros and cons of any medical study. Some RCT studies mentioned that the consumption of multivitamins brings changes in health, by gradually:

  • Improving full-term birth rates.
  • By reducing neural tube defects in infants.
  • Decreasing pre-term births, low-weight births, and small size for gestational age.
  • Reducing iron deficiency anemia in women (pregnant and lactating).
  • Addressing deficiencies. (B12, folic acid, Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, iodine, choline).
  • Improving the chances of fertility.
  • Improves geriatric health, memory, cognition, and deficiencies.
  • Increasing the chances of wound healing and recovery.

(Data Brief 399: Dietary Supplement Use Among Adults: United States, 2017–2018, 2021)

RCTs also explained that there is zero to very low association between multivitamin supplementation and cancer occurrences. Multivitamin supplementation cannot alter the genetic algorithm or epigenetics. 

However, a few studies have also observed that multivitamin supplementation has helped lower cardiovascular health complications in women.

  • Multivitamin supplementation does not reduce mortality rates due to any chronic conditions. (For Healthy Adults, Taking Multivitamins Daily Is Not Associated with a Lower Risk of Death | National Institutes of Health (NIH), n.d.)
  • Supplementations do not reduce the occurrence of communicable and non-communicable diseases. 
  • Multivitamin supplementation is not associated with the reduction of cardiovascular events. (O’Connor et al., 2021)
  • Multivitamin supplementation does not promote longevity. (Can Daily Multivitamin Supplements Help You Live Longer?, n.d.)
  • The reduction in diseases is only seen with a holistic approach.

Drug interactions, contraindications of multivitamins

Drug-nutrient interactions can make the drug less effective and hamper nutritional absorption. It is really important to consider the drug-multivitamin interactions to address complications. 

  • Metformin (diabetic medication) and proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) can interact with vitamin B12 absorption.
  • Corticosteroids, oral contraceptives, PPIs, and diuretics can interact with potassium, magnesium, folic acid, calcium, and thiamine absorption.
  • Bile acid sequestrants and anticonvulsants can interact with vitamin A, and D.
  • Blood thinners may interact with vitamin K.
  • Hydralazine medications used for hypertension can disturb CoQ10 absorption. (Yetley, 2007)


Multivitamin supplementation can support your health in many ways. No matter how many multivitamins one consumes, it is also important to focus on a healthy diet, exercise, and a balanced sleep cycle. Genetic algorithms and epigenetic evolution play a major part in determining one’s health and needs. A holistic approach, along with the support of multivitamin supplementation, is always a great way to achieve overall health. 


  • Can daily multivitamin supplements help you live longer? (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2024, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/multivitamins-may-not-help-you-live-longer
  • Data Brief 399: Dietary Supplement Use Among Adults: United States, 2017–2018. (2021). https://doi.org/10.15620/CDC:101131
  • For healthy adults, taking multivitamins daily is not associated with a lower risk of death | National Institutes of Health (NIH). (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2024, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/healthy-adults-taking-multivitamins-daily-not-associated-lower-risk-death
  • O’Connor, E. A., Evans, C. V., Ivlev, I., Rushkin, M. C., Thomas, R. G., Martin, A., & Lin, J. S. (2021). Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplementation for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplementation for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK581642/
  • Taking Too Many Vitamins? Side Effects of Vitamin Overdosing. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2024, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/effects-of-taking-too-many-vitaminsYetley, E. A. (2007). Multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplements: definitions, characterization, bioavailability, and drug interactions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(1), 269S-276S. https://doi.org/10.1093/AJCN/85.1.269S
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