24 reasons why you may need a good multivitamin

Pharmacist and Master Herbalist Gerald Quigley discusses the reasons why a multivitamin may be suitable for you, as shared on The House of Wellness radio.

1. Poor Digestion

Even when our food intake is good, inefficient digestion can limit our body’s uptake of vitamins.

Some common causes of inefficient digestion are not chewing our food well enough and eating too quickly. Each of these results in larger than normal food particle size, too large to allow complete action of the digestive enzymes.

Many people with dentures are unable to chew as well as those with a full set of original teeth.

2. Hot Coffee, Tea and Spices

Habitual drinking of liquids that are too hot, or consuming an excess of irritants, such as coffee, tea or spices may cause inflammation of the digestive lining. This inflammation may lead to a drop in secretion of digestive fluids and poorer extraction of vitamins and minerals from our food.

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Tune into The House of Wellness Radio to hear Gerald discuss why a multivitamin may be right for you.

3. Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol is known to damage your liver and pancreas, both of which are vital to digestion and metabolism. It can also damage the lining of the intestinal tract and adversely affect the absorption of nutrients, leading to sub-clinical malnutrition.

Regular use of alcohol increases our body’s need for the B-group vitamins, particularly thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid and vitamins A, C and B12, as well as the minerals zinc, magnesium and calcium. Alcohol affects the availability, absorption and metabolism of nutrients.

4. Smoking

Smoking too much tobacco is also a known irritant to the digestive tract and increases the metabolic requirements of vitamin C by at least 30 per cent (when compared to non-smokers).

Vitamin C, which is normally present in foods such as paw paw, oranges and capsicums, oxidises rapidly once fruits are cut, juiced, cooked or stored in direct sunlight or near heat. Vitamin C is important for good immune function.

5. Laxatives

Overuse of laxatives hastens the intestinal transit time of food and can lead to poor absorption of vitamins and minerals. Paraffin and other mineral oils increase the loss of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, while other laxatives used to excess can cause large losses of minerals, such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.

6. Fad Diets

Diets that miss out on whole groups of food may be seriously lacking in vitamins. Even some of the popular low fat diets, if taken to extreme, can be deficient in vitamins A, D and E.

Vegetarian and vegan diets, which exclude meat and other animal sources, must be very skilfully planned to avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anaemia.

7. Overcooking

Lengthy cooking or reheating of meat and vegetables can oxidise and destroy heat susceptible vitamins, such as the B-group vitamins, C and E. Boiling vegetables leaches the water soluble B vitamins, as well as many minerals. Light steaming is preferable.

Some vitamins, such as Vitamin B6, can be destroyed by irradiation from microwaves.

8. Food Storage

Freezing food containing vitamin E can significantly reduce its levels once defrosted. Foods containing vitamin E that are exposed to heat and air can turn rancid.

Many common sources of vitamin E, such as bread and oils, are now highly processed, so much so that their vitamin E content is much reduced or missing altogether. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that defensively inhibits oxidative damage in the body.

Other vitamin losses from food preserving can include vitamin B1 and C.

9. Convenience Foods

A diet overly dependent on highly refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, white flour and white rice places greater demand for additional sources of B-group vitamins to help process these carbohydrates. An unbalanced diet contributes to conditions such as irritability, lethargy, and sleep disorders.

10. Antibiotics

While antibiotics are valuable in fighting infection, they also kill friendly bacteria in the gut – bacteria that would normally be producing B-group vitamins for absorption through the intestinal walls. Such deficiencies may result in a variety of nervous conditions.

It may be advisable to supplement with B-group vitamins when on a lengthy course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and/or use pure Lactobacillus powders to help support healthy gut bacteria.

11. Food Allergies

The omission of whole food groups from the diet, as is the case of individuals allergic to gluten or lactose, may mean the loss of significant dietary sources of nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavin or calcium.

12. Crop Nutrient Losses

Some agricultural soils are deficient in trace elements. Decades of intense agriculture can overwork and deplete soils unless all of the soil nutrients, including trace elements, are regularly replaced.

In one US Government survey, levels of essential minerals in crops were found to have declined by up to 68 per cent over a four year period in the 1970’s.

13. Accidents and Illnesses

Serious burns lead to a loss of protein and essential trace nutrients from the body.

Surgery increases the need for zinc, vitamin E and other nutrients involved in the cellular repair mechanism.

The repair of broken bones is hampered by an inadequate supply of calcium and vitamin C, while the challenge of infection places high demands on the nutritional resources of zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B5 and B6.

24 reasons why a multivitamin may be good for you.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are one well known source of vitamins and minerals.

14. Stress

Chemical, physical and emotional stresses can increase our body’s requirements for vitamins B2, B5, B6 and C. Air pollution also increases the requirements for vitamin E.

15. P.M.T.

Research has demonstrated that up to 60 per cent of women suffering from symptoms of premenstrual tension, such as headaches, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, lethargy and depression may benefit from supplementation with vitamin B6.

16. Teenagers

Rapid growth spurts, particularly in girls, place high demand on nutritional resources to underwrite the accelerated physical, biochemical and emotional development of this age group.

Data from the US Ten State Nutrition Survey (in 1968-70 covering a total of 24,000 families and 86,000 individuals) showed that between 30 to 50 per cent of adolescents aged 12 to 16 had dietary intakes two-thirds below the recommended daily averages for vitamin A, C, calcium and iron.

17. Pregnant Women

Pregnancy creates higher than average demands for nutrients to ensure healthy growth of the baby and comfortable confinement for the mother. Nutrients which typically require increased intake during pregnancy are the B-group vitamins, especially B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, and B12, A, D, E and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.

The Ten State Nutrition Survey in the US showed that as many as 80 per cent of the pregnant women surveyed had dietary intakes two-thirds below the recommended daily allowances. Professional assessment of nutritional requirements during pregnancy should be sought.

18. Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives may decrease absorption of folic acid and increase the need for vitamin B6, and possibly vitamin C, zinc and riboflavin. Approximately 22 per cent of Australian women aged between 15 and 44 are believed to be on the pill at any one time.

19. Light Eaters

Some people eat very sparingly, even without weight reduction goals. US dietary surveys have shown that an average woman maintains her weight on 7560 kilojoules per day. At this level her diet is likely to be low in thiamine, calcium and iron.

20. The Elderly

Older persons have been shown to have a low intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron, calcium and zinc. Folic acid deficiency is often seen alongside a vitamin C deficiency.

Fibre intake is often also low. Riboflavin (B2) and pyridoxine (B6) deficiencies have also been observed. Possible problems include impaired sense of taste and smell, reduced secretion of digestive enzymes, chronic disease and physical impairment.

21. Lack of Sunlight

Anyone whose exposure to sunlight may be minimal can suffer from insufficient amounts of vitamin D. This vitamin is required for calcium metabolism, without which bone thinning (osteoporosis) has been observed.

Ultraviolet light is the stimulus for vitamin D formation in the skin. It is blocked by cloud, smog, ordinary window glass, curtains and clothing. The maximum recommended intake of vitamin D is 400IU.

22. Bioavailability

Wide fluctuations in individual nutrient requirements from the official recommended averages are common, particularly for those in high physical demand vocations, such as athletes and manual labourers (taking into account body weight and physical shape).

Protein intake influences the need for vitamin B6, and vitamin B1 is linked to kilojoule intake.

23. Low Body Reserves

Although our body is able to store reserves of certain vitamins such as A and E, Canadian autopsy data has shown that up to 30 per cent of the population has reserves of vitamin A so low as to be judged “at risk”.

Vitamin A is important for healthy skin and mucous membranes (including the sinus and lung) and eyesight.

24. Athletes

Athletes consume large amounts of food and experience considerable stress on the body. These factors affect their need for B-group vitamins, vitamin C and iron. Tests on Australian Olympic athletes and elite football players have shown wide ranging vitamin deficiencies.

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