Multivitamins review and compare

Do you really need to take one?
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  • Updated:6 Jan 2005



In brief

  • There’s evidence that multivitamin/mineral supplements can be beneficial for some people, particularly if your general diet is inadequate, though they can’t replace the benefits of changing your diet to a healthier mix.
  • Believe it or not, multivitamins are a complementary medicine and may interfere with the absorption or function of prescription medicines, so tell your doctor you’re taking one, or planning to.

Not if you have a good diet. Research makes it clear that a balanced diet is still the best way to get your vitamins and minerals, and studies show that diets high in whole grains, vegetables and fruit reduce the risk of cancers and other diseases.

Please note: this information was current as of January 2005 but is still a useful guide today.

A good diet beats supplements because:

  • Whole foods are complex, containing not only the major nutrients but also a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.
  • Whole foods provide dietary fibre, which is important for digestion and has a role in preventing cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Whole foods contain other substances, called phytochemicals, which may also protect us against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Whole foods usually contain vitamins and minerals in different forms — for example, vitamin E occurs in nature in eight different forms — but supplements usually contain just one. The different forms may be absorbed better or not as well by the body (this is known as their bioavailability), and absorption may depend on other things in the food too. Improving your diet to include a variety of food sources gives your body a much better chance of absorbing enough of a vitamin in all the available forms.


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