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What Can a Multivitamin Do for You?

You often hear that vitamins and other supplements are a waste of money… that following a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables provides all the essential vitamins and minerals you need.

This is a nice concept in theory, but the fact is, only one out of every 10 adults eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. This means 90% of Americans are eating less than the current guidelines of 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables.

In other words, the majority of Americans have significant nutrient gaps in their diet. And these deficiencies can lead directly to poor health.

So the idea that supplementation is a waste of money is absurd! This is especially wrongheaded (and short sighted) since the protective nutritional content of our food has decreased while the environmental and life stressors we experience have increased!

In my opinion, mainstream medicine’s solution is to wait until patients become sick, then place them on a lifetime of pharmaceuticals to control symptoms.

I would much rather pay for a few supplements now instead of shelling out hundreds, or possibly even thousands of dollars each month on medications. That’s what will happen if you became ill due to a vitamin deficiency or insufficiency.

Needless to say, I take my vitamins and other supplements every single day. And you should, too.

Vitamins and Other Supplements are NOT a Waste of Money

Taking a daily multivitamin is an easy way to fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet. A 2023 study published in Nutrients supports this concept.

For six months one group of older gentlemen took a multivitamin/multimineral while another group took a placebo. At the end of the six months, those in the multivitamin group showed increased circulating levels of nearly all of the nutrients that were measured.

The placebo group? Not so much. In fact, their nutritional levels fell; food alone was not even enough to maintain their starting nutrition status!

Just as importantly the placebo group showed declines in cellular oxygen consumption, which is important for metabolism and immune health in older men (and women too, obviously). These declines were not seen in the men taking the multivitamin.

And then there is the COSMOS (Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study) study. It was a meta-analysis of three different cognition studies.

It involved a group of people 65 and older without dementia and found that supplementing with a multivitamin/multimineral reduced cognitive aging by two years. This included benefits to both global cognition and episodic memory.

According to the press release from Mass General Brigham: “Results showed a statistically significant benefit for cognition among participants taking the multi-vitamin compared to placebo, suggesting that a multi-vitamin could help prevent memory loss and slow cognitive aging among older adults.”

All of these results add up to big benefits for people who take multivitamin supplements.

When is the Best Time to Take Your Supplements?

This is always a big question. But it’s not all that difficult. Just take your supplements with meals.

Our bodies are made to digest food, not hard tablets or gel caps. So when you combine your supplements with meals, the digestive process that helps break down and absorb the nutrients from your food also breaks down and absorbs the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in your supplements.

If you take a probiotic, plan to take it with your largest meal of the day, because there are some great digestive benefits that come with taking a good probiotic.

There are only a few, rare cases where these two rules of thumb might not apply.

  • If you take amino acids or thyroid, they should be taken on an empty stomach.
  • If you’re taking an antibiotic two or three times a day, you probably take the last one around dinnertime. In that case, wait three to four hours, then take your probiotic at bedtime.
  • If you are on an iron supplement, make sure your meal contains some vitamin C. Orange juice, kiwi or strawberry all work. Or you can add a 250-500 mg vitamin C supplement to your regimen.

Multivitamins (and other supplemental nutrition) can be a very inexpensive insurance policy against deficiencies that could ultimately shorten your lifespan, or leave you incapacitated and on expensive medications in your later years.

When looking for a multivitamin, I recommend passing up the gummy-bear versions and wholesale brands. Instead, look for a well-rounded whole food multivitamin that includes vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.


Lee SH, Moore LV, Park S, Harris DM, Blanck HM. Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations – United States, 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Jan 7;71(1):1-9.

Michels AJ, Butler JA, Uesugi SL, Lee K, Frei BB, Bobe G, Magnusson KR, Hagen TM. Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplementation Prevents or Reverses Decline in Vitamin Biomarkers and Cellular Energy Metabolism in Healthy Older Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2023 Jun 9;15(12):2691.

Third Major Study Finds Evidence that Daily Multivitamin Supplements Improve Memory and Slow Cognitive Aging in Older Adults. Mass General Brigham. Jan, 2024.

Vyas CM, Manson JE, Sesso HD, Cook NR, Rist PM, et al. Effect of multivitamin-mineral supplementation versus placebo on cognitive function: results from the clinic subcohort of the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) randomized clinical trial and meta-analysis of 3 cognitive studies within COSMOS. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Jan 18:S0002-9165(23)66342-7.

Lane DJ, Richardson DR. The active role of vitamin C in mammalian iron metabolism: Much more than just enhanced iron absorption! Free Radic Biol Med. 75 (2014), pp. 69-83.

Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017 Sep; 9(9): 1021.