Why Should I Take Multivitamins Every Day? A Helpful Guide

In a perfect world, our bodies would get all the nutrients they need from food alone. However, for many reasons, that isn’t currently feasible for much of the globe. That’s where multivitamins come in. But there are so many options—so let’s discuss whether you need one and which formula is best for you.

Let’s dive in.

What does a multivitamin do for you? Here are some of the top benefits

Man taking multivitamin with glass of water for whole body support

You might be wondering, “What will a multivitamin even do for me, anyway?” Great question! Let’s talk about three top multivitamin benefits.

1. Very generally, multivitamins pick up where nutrition leaves off

Getting everything you need from diet alone can be challenging enough as it is. Complicating matters: food quality isn’t what it used to be. One reason for this is soil degradation. When the soil suffers, the crops suffer—and that’s why most of the fruits and vegetables on the market today aren’t exactly bursting with the same levels of nutritional goodness that you’d find in the fruits and vegetables of decades past.

While we don’t have a time machine to take us back to the days of richer, healthier soil, the good news is that today’s multivitamins can help keep us well-nourished.

2. A good multi can support brain health and function

Research suggests that multivitamins might support brain health as we age. This includes not just how well you think, but your overall mood and wellbeing.

This makes perfect sense, considering that there is a strong connection between what you eat and how you feel. What you fuel your body with matters. And if this fuel isn’t enough, a multivitamin can bridge the gap.

3. Multivitamins can help keep your eyes healthy

Research is ongoing but thus far suggests that a multivitamin can help keep your eyes healthy as you age. That’s because a high quality multivitamin should be formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients that support normal vision.

So, do multivitamins work?

The short answer is: yes, some of them do. As you know, what you put in your body is important, and supplements are no different. Here are a few things to consider before selecting a multivitamin:

  • In what amounts do the individual ingredients exist? Is it enough? Too much?
  • How are the ingredients sourced? Is the brand transparent with its production process? You should be able to get a Certificate of Analysis for any vitamin or supplement.
  • Does it have additive products like sweeteners or preservatives? Is it non-GMO and gluten-free?

Remember that not all multivitamins are created equal. Therefore, doing your due diligence — and also learning how to read nutrition labels like a pro — is going to work in your favor.

What multivitamin should I take?

Woman holding multivitamin capsules that contain supplement common nutrient deficiencies

Multivitamins are formulated to target the most common nutrient deficiencies. As you’re choosing one, look for a supplement that contains:

  • Vitamin A: Important for vision, growth, reproduction and immune health.
  • Vitamin C: Involved in protein metabolism, skin health and healthy immune function.
  • Vitamin D3: Promotes bone health, energy and positive mental health.
  • Folate: Important in the formation of red blood cells, as well as cell growth and function. (It’s especially important for pregnant women to get enough folate!)
  • Biotin: Plays a critical role in the metabolism of fatty acids, glucose and amino acids.
  • Iodine: Important for supporting thyroid health, particularly for expectant mothers.
  • Magnesium: A must-have for muscle/nerve function and supporting already-healthy glucose and blood pressure levels.
  • Boron: Benefits both your brain (cognition and memory) and your bones.

This list isn’t exhaustive but should give you a good idea of where to start.

The best multivitamin for women vs. men

Woman and man laughing after run taking different multivitamins for different nutritional gaps

Because multivitamins help fill in common nutritional gaps, many (if not most) can be taken by both men and women.

But, that doesn’t mean men and women don’t have health needs specific to their gender—and that supplement needs will vary. For example, some supplements for women take breast health into consideration; you can also buy stand-alone supplements that address menopause and support healthy estrogen levels.

On the other hand, men’s supplements include ingredients that are good for prostate health, and, similarly, there are testosterone supporting supplements that can be taken alongside a multivitamin.

When should I take my multivitamin?

Woman eating cup of yogurt for better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

When it comes to when you take your multivitamin, how much you consume, and what you might combine it with (like food), the directions on the label offer all the answers.

That being said, the timing can have an impact. Consider that multivitamins usually contain both water- and fat-soluble vitamins. If you consume them with food, any fat that you eat will help with absorption. Drinking water (or something water-based) will also help. However, the fat-soluble vitamins will be absorbed better.

If you take your multivitamin on an empty stomach, your body will have a harder time absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins.

Q & A: FAQs about multivitamins

Woman considering questions she has about multivitamins and their benefits

Here are some of the more common questions (and a few not-so-common) we get about multivitamins—and the answers from Life Extension's very own Director of Education, Michael A. Smith, M.D.

Q. What happens to your body when you start taking vitamins?

A. While everyone’s experience is unique, due to the benefits that the individual nutrients offer, you might experience (among other things):

  • Healthy energy production
  • A healthy stress response
  • Alertness and clarity
  • Healthy hair, skin and nails
  • Healthy muscle recovery in between gym sessions

Q. What is the most important vitamin for your body?

A. This is a tough question because there really is no single answer. Your body needs a number of vitamins and minerals in order to do its job.

That being said, there are certain nutrients that your body cannot make on its own. These are called essential nutrients. For example, it cannot make the letter vitamins — like vitamin A and C. Therefore, you need to get them through food or supplementation.

Iodine and magnesium are also notoriously difficult to get enough of through food alone. You’ll likely find these in your multivitamin.

Q. Should I take a multivitamin while intermittent fasting?

A. You certainly can, but you’ll want to consider the length of your fast. Intermittent fasting can impact how your body absorbs certain nutrients. Your best bet will likely be to take your multivitamin with food. But if you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to speak with a medical professional.

Q. Does a multivitamin make you gain weight?

A. Long story short, no. Taking a multivitamin, in and of itself, will not make you gain weight. It won’t have any direct impact on your weight at all.

But, taking a multivitamin and thus, giving your body what it needs, can have an effect on how well your metabolism works. Vitamins can also play a role in supporting your body’s hunger hormones, like insulin, leptin and cortisol, thereby impacting your hunger cues.

However, note that when it comes to your weight, a big-picture approach is a must. Look at your lifestyle choices, nutrition and physical activity in tandem. That will help you better understand your weight.

Ready to take the next step towards better health? Life Extension offers multivitamins in both one-a-day and two-a-day capsules and tablets.

About the Author: Jorie Mark earned an English degree from University of Pennsylvania before getting a master's degree in creative writing from American University. She is a content and social media expert with 20 years of experience in social media, editorial content, digital marketing, events, public relations and food and lifestyle writing. She is also a published author.