Should I take a multivitamin?

At the end of the day when I finally flop on the couch, my mind starts spinning through the day’s “I shouldas.” Especially when it comes to eating.
By Astrid Van Den Broek
Should I take a multivitamin? AE Pictures Inc.

At the end of the day when I finally flop on the couch, my mind starts spinning through the day’s “I shouldas.” Especially when it comes to eating. I shoulda drank some milk. I shoulda made myself eat an apple or two. I shoulda had a protein topped, veggies-spilling-over-the-side salad instead of a ham sandwich for lunch.

But then I remember Gina Sunderland’s advice: take your nutritional insurance. See Sunderland, a Winnipeg-based registered dietician, is a big fan of taking multivitamins a.k.a. our nutritional insurance, in part to offset the I shouldas. Though it can’t 100 percent replace the vitamins and minerals we miss by not eating calcium-packed milk and yogurt or antioxidant-thick fruits and veggies, it acts as a perfectly good back up. And backing Sunderland up is this Swedish study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found women who took a daily multivitamin offset a heart attack down the road. (Although it found the pills weren’t as effective in women who had already developed heart disease.)

But with so many types of multivitamins crowding our shelves, how’s a gal to choose what’s best for her? Especially considering our needs change as we get older. “For example women over 50 need more vitamin D, B12 and antioxidants such as vitamin C. Because as we age our digestive tract doesn’t absorb certain key nutrients as well,” says Sunderland. “And when we’re pregnant/nursing, women should take a balanced prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains folic acid.” (Folic acid help baby to develop its spine, skull and brain.) 


Thankfully, HealthLink BC has some easy tips on how to choose the vitamin for you. Such as:

  • Women-designated vitamins generally have more iron which we need thanks to our monthly menstrual cycles, a time when we lose some iron. Some women’s formulas also pack in extra calcium, another bonus since women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.
  • Look for a multi that offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, rather than just a single vitamin or mineral pill.

Now if I can only remember to take them every day…


Step follow up: For those who also wondered if I walked more than an American does, turns out I do…but not by that much. My one-day tracking left me at 7, 218 steps, so only 2, 101 than the average American. But interestingly, I found merely tracking my steps made me walk more steps—as in wandering about as the barista made my skinny Pumpkin Spice latte, or pacing as I waited to pick my daughter up from school. I’m thinking this might just be my accessory of the week to see if I can beat my 7, 218 steps.


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