I am a supporter of MVI's. I don't feel that they are needed to boost the immune system or enhance health because that's what fruits and veggies are for...if you eat them. I also don't believe that a MVI needs to cost $50+ a month. However, as much as I LOVE my heart-healthy diet, my diet changes on a day-to-day basis. For example, on the weekends I eat far less veggies than I do during the week and I'm ok with that. I eat a lot more fruit and a lot more starchy carbs such as bread and grains. Why? Because my workouts are longer on the weekends, I expend more energy and due to the length of my workouts, I miss several meals. Also, my cravings for veggies are less on the weekends compared to the week. But having said that, I have no problem eating copious amounts of veggies during the week and I still eat veggies on the weekends, just not as much as during the week.
I think it's perfectly fine to have a diet that varies on a day to do basis so long as you cover your basis either through supplements or through different foods. I don't believe that supplements replace food in the diet but that is what supplements are for...to supplement the diet. Supplements may improve health if you are deficient in vitamins/minerals but food is the best source of fuel for both your health and your active lifestyle. Even for me, I take Calcium + vit D, a MVI, tissue rejuvinator (from Hammer) and B Complex on a daily basis. I think I have no trouble getting in my calcium but sometimes even with yogurt or milk post-workout in the early am, sometimes I don't have a substantial amount of calcium until the evening or until the next day. Therefore, taking 1 Calcium + vit D/d is simply nutritional insurance in the case that my body doesn't meet the recommended amount of Calcium for the day.
In my latest issue of Consume Reports on Health (April 2011) there was an article on MVI's: Skip the wild add-ons. I thought I'd share it with you because there was some interesting info that I thought you would enjoy reading....enjoy!
What needs a MVI?
Some people might not be able to meet their nutritional needs through diet alone. Those include women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to conceive; those consuming fewer than 1200 calories a day or who are cutting out an entire food group (insert my thoughts....this shouldn't be anyone reading this blog!!) and those who have a condition that depletes nutrients such as cancer or diabetes.
(insert my thoughts...I think athletes should be listed here because we expend more energy and certainly, even athletes don't consume "perfect" diets and require more nutrients than the average sedentary individual).
How to choose
Formulas that contain iron can be a good choice for premenopausal women, who might need to compensate for iron loss from menstruation. Men and older people typically don'tn eed more iron and should look for a formulation without it. Botanical ingredients and food extracts found in some specialty formulas are often present in such small amounts that they're essentially useless - and that's if they even had a proven benefit to begin with. And look out for unexpected additions: One A Day Women's Active Metabolism contains 120 mg of caffeine per pill = more than the amount in a can of Red Bull - plus guarana seed, a natural stimulant. In addition these tips can help you wade through the claims:
Think outside the gender box:
An older man who doesn't eat dairy might be better off with the higher dose of calcium in his wife's vitamins. And a vitamin for men might be a better choice for an older woman who eats lots of calcium-rich foods or already takes calcium pills (But be sure to check the other ingredients to make sure they're safe for you).
Don't swallow all the claims:
Extra B vitamins won't necessarily boost energy; ginkgo hasn't conclusively been found to charpen the mind; and supplemental vitamin E won't help your heart. If you look closely, you'll usually find a disclaimer stating that the claims haven't been evaluated by the FDA.
Talk with your doc if you have a medical condition:
In particular, if you take MVI that has an active ingredient with a known biological effect - such as the plant sterols in Centrum's Cardio formula, which can help lower cholesterol - it should be evaluated and monitored along with other treatments that you are using.
Unless your doctor tells you that you need more than 100% of the recommended daily intake of a particular nutrient, you don't.
*There has been a lot of talk in the triathlon world with Iron Supplements and I am not a fan. With the article written by non-RD's and "health experts" I'm surprised that there is talk about iron supplementation without any talk about discussing this mineral with your primary care doctor before using. Here are two articles I found discussing Iron and the Endurance Athlete and Iron Overdose.