Should You Take Dietary Supplements? The Problem With Most Multivitamins

7 min read

key takeaways:
  • Oil based dietary supplements because toxic over time so take steps to ensure you are not consuming excessive amounts of these products
  • Mass-produced multivitamins are often mislabeled and falsely advertised so you should not rely on the packaging to tell you what quantities of vitamins and minerals they carry
  • Use independent, scientific journals for reviews and research purposes since they are mostly likely to be unbiased.

Statistics show that interest in multivitamins and other dietary supplements has grown exponentially over the past few decades. Thousands of people take these pills and tablets every day, hoping to compensate for poor diet, avoid diseases, and improve their overall health. But how effective are these supplements? And why do experts suggest you approach them with caution?

What are multivitamins?

While individual compositions and dosage vary from company to company, most multivitamins contain 13 essential vitamins and 15 minerals. Your body requires these nutrients to produce enzymes, improve immunity, repair damage, and maintain normal processes.

With the deterioration of food quality and the increase of pesticides in soil, people don’t get all of the vitamins and minerals they need solely from their diet. Not everyone has the resources to shift to organic produce 24/7. This is where supplements come in, and the goal of any effective supplement is to fill in the gaps and make sure your body gets what it needs to stay healthy.

Overall, multivitamins are a great tool, but the issues lie in the specific type of supplement you’re taking. As a rule, you should only take a supplement if you have a deficiency and are unable to add sufficient natural and organic produce to your regular meals to cover it. That said, what problems do you need to look out for? 

The big problem with multivitamins

If multivitamins are such a great resource, then what’s the issue? The problem rests not in the supplements themselves but in the industry that mass produces them -- with limited policing. No FDA laws exist to regulate specific quantities of these nutrients. Companies can put whatever they want in their products, market them to the masses, and put them on shelves in pharmacies, stores, and supermarkets.

Did you know?

39%Most of these boosters are synthetic or artificially made with chemicals designed to mimic the benefits of natural nutrients.

1. Quantity of nutrients

While everyone requires a daily intake of vitamins and minerals, these are generally small quantities. This is because these nutrients are used up by your body during the day, but cannot be stored. As a result, you need to be extremely careful not to overdo your multivitamin intake, and the general recommendation is to consult with your doctor and only take the assigned dose.

The problem is that the levels of nutrients in dietary supplements can be higher or lower than the recommended amount. The lack of FDA restrictions means that companies can add more nutrients than actually necessary. Why would they do this? Simply put, it’s a marketing tactic. The average consumer doesn’t know what to look for in a supplement brand. As a result, when a company pushes the message that their product offers higher magnesium or potassium quantities than their competitors, consumers perceive that it is a superior product. They mistakenly believe they’re getting more value for their money, and the brand garners better reviews. However, these high doses can have a major negative impact on your health.

Related Post: The Ultimate Guide to Essential Nutrition

2. Oil based products become toxic over time

Synthetic supplements are oil-based products. This may not seem like a deal breaker, but keep in mind that all of the vitamins and minerals you get through fruits and vegetables are water-based. In other words, the form of nutrients present in most multivitamins is not one that your body recognizes.

Why are multivitamins designed this way? The easy answer is that these formulas are more stable. They are cheaper to manufacture and mass produce,  and can sit on a shelf for months or years without expiring. To simplify the process, synthetic supplements take you from step one to step five without ever crossing steps two, three, or four. But what does this look like?

Plant-based vitamins often need to be converted from one form to another before your body can use them. For example, vitamin A exists as beta-carotene, and vitamin B has bonds with phosphorus. Your body processes these, often by releasing enzymes, and converts a suitable quantity of the nutrient into an absorbable form. This is possible because they’re water-based.

On the other hand, oil-based multivitamins provide nutrients in the end form. For example, vitamin A is retinyl palmitate, and vitamin B is crystal thiamine mononitrate. These fat soluble versions are absorbed in their entirety and stored in the liver or in fatty tissues. The excess amounts are not disposed of.

Instead, they collect in your body until they reach toxic levels and become poisonous. This makes it doubly important to ensure you’re not consuming excessive amounts. Vitamin A toxicity is a common side effect of overloading multivitamins. In addition, studies show that excess vitamin D can cause severe hypercalcemia. And minerals like iron build up and cause constipation and vomiting.

3. False advertising and labeling

How can you tell whether or not you’re consuming more than the required quantities of nutrients? Sure, you can look at the labels for different supplements, and this will help you monitor your consumption and omit a fair number of brands. However, this brings us to the third problem on this list: false advertising.

Lack of official regulations also means the quantities listed on the label may be false. Not only are companies not responsible for giving you more or less than the appropriate amounts of nutrients, but they also aren’t required to tell you what is in their products. The biggest issue with most multivitamins, especially artificial multivitamins, is that you have no way of knowing what you’re getting.

If you want to get past this hurdle, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to research specific brand name supplement suppliers. There are numerous independent studies on the composition of particular products and how well they work. Also, look into potential side effects and reactions with diseases. Web MD has a comprehensive list of conditions that are impacted by certain nutritional imbalances.

4. Limited testing and scientific backing

One of the biggest problems in today’s world is pseudoscience. The sheer volume of information on the internet makes it difficult to fact check and verify the truth of the content you’re consuming. For example, how do you know that I’m not making all of this up as I go? I assure you, I am not. But incorrect information is easy to come by, which is why you need to look into the science backing these vitamins and their benefits.

For example, some sources will claim that multivitamin use can help you avoid cancer. However, there is no conclusive information to back this up. Study 1, study 2 and study 3 claim using multivitamins can actually increase the likelihood of cancer. However, study 4 shows a 31 percent reduced risk for cancer corresponding with multivitamin use, but this analysis only uses male participants and no women. Studies 5 and 6 have both male and female participants and show a lowered risk for colon cancer. You’ll notice that these are all from reputable medical journals.

Does this mean that multivitamins have no use at all? Absolutely not. Verifiable research shows that multivitamins can improve retention and memory in the elderly, in case studies for women and case studies for men. Similarly, nutritional deficiency is a direct cause for many mental health illnesses.

Also, mineral supplements have shown positive results in young adults with anxiety and depression. There are also several studies that show how antioxidant vitamins and minerals help combat macular degeneration and resultant blindness.

What should you do?

The lesson here is to not believe everything you hear in advertisements and marketing packets. Either do the research yourself or put your trust in a brand that will do it for you. And, as always, whole food supplements are a fantastic way to receive all the benefits of plant based vitamins without any of the risks of toxic buildup.

When you move away from the big name, mass-producing supplement companies and towards smaller, organic based brands, you’ll find specially designed products made with your health and well-being in mind. Find a brand that shares your values for fitness and is transparent about how they make their products.

That’s where our All-in-One Essentials Shake comes in. This whole food-based shake targets all of your body’s needs and comes in an easy-to-use powder form. With 25 superfood ingredients, a single scoop at every meal is enough to fuel and revive you. What makes our product superior to others in this category is the low calorie count. Whole food ingredients are carefully processed to preserve maximum natural health benefits at 110 calories per meal. Compare that to other brands offering half the nutritional value at around 300 to 600 calories per serving.

There is no harm in using dietary supplements to meet your daily nutritional requirements. The truth remains that not everyone has the time, money, or energy to shop organic and cook gourmet meals three times a day. The key is to supplement -- not replace -- your healthy food options. Finding the right products to help you on your health journey will take time, but the results will improve your quality of life in the long run.

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Many fitness-oriented people focus on exercise but don’t take proper care with what they put into their bodies. High-quality natural supplements can help improve your health and quality of life, and can certainly pay off in the long term. However, research is essential in finding businesses you can trust. Also, focus on the minerals and nutrients that aren’t a part of your diet and supplement those.

Look into the recommended daily quantities of minerals and vitamins based on your health and age. Don’t forget to take into account any health conditions or prior illnesses you may have. If you are sick, you should consult your doctor before taking any products or supplements.  Ensure they won’t react with any medication you’re taking. And, above all else, prioritize your health by investing in quality products.

Disclaimer: The LYFE Fuel blog is for informational purposes only. The information does not serve as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. We kindly ask you not to ignore professional medical advice because of any information you’ve read on If you have any concerns about your health, please consult a physician or appropriate health care expert.