It’s safe to declare that the good ol’ multivitamin is the most popular food supplement used by the general public. It seems just about everyone is taking a one-a-day multivitamin. While it probably makes sense from a general health perspective, there is considerable debate as to whether or not extra vitamins and minerals boost exercise performance. On one hand, you have coaches, magazines and even the media, saying that hard-training athletes need extra vitamins and minerals. On the other side, you have nutritionists and researchers saying that good eating practices will supply more than enough vitamins and minerals.
Unlike protein, for which there is some evidence to suggest that hard-training athletes need more – no such evidence exists regarding vitamins and minerals. The few studies that did reveal boosted performance focused only on individuals who were deficient in one or more vitamins or minerals to begin with.
While some evidence suggests that female athletes who have heavy menstrual periods may need extra iron, most people don’t need to mega dose on vitamins and minerals. In fact, as mentioned earlier, some vitamins and minerals are toxic in high dosages.
The best way to determine whether or not you need a multivitamin is to critique your diet. Are you getting the right number of servings per day? Do you eat plenty of fruits, but not nearly the same amount of vegetables? Supplements should be just that – an addition to a diet that is lacking in something. Take vitamin and mineral supplements only if you really feel you need to.