There are 13 essential vitamins our body needs for normal, healthy functioning.
Our body cannot make these itself (or cannot make enough of them) so, for the most part, we need to get them through our diet.
Vitamin C deficiency = Scurvy
Vitamin D deficiency = rickets
Calcium deficiency = porous, weak bones & teeth
You may be surprised to know vitamins are usually only needed in small amounts. Too much of some can cause symptoms or toxicity.
Wondering what happened to the missing letters? They were named in order, but later discovered that some weren’t vitamins, others were related to the B complex of vitamins so they got renamed.
There are 9 water soluble vitamins - the eight B-vitamins and vitamin C.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are easily excreted from the body. So, a steady intake—ideally from a healthy diet—is important.
The remaining 4 vitamins are classified as fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Consume with some healthy fats – olive oil on veggies or in salad dressings, avocado.
Fat-soluble vitamins A and D dissolve in fat. They can be stored in fatty tissues and the liver and accumulate in the body. If levels become too high, they can cause symptoms, and even become toxic.
The short answer – Not unless you’re deficient. For many reasons…
2. Food provides lots of other chemicals and components that are great for our health
3. Multivitamins don’t contain doses sufficient to correct a deficiency
Lots of athletes take a multivitamin because it makes them feel healthy. In fact, a large US study1 examined self-reported health of vitamin users vs non-vitamin users. (n=21,603 Americans in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey).
Vitamin users self-reported 30% better overall health compared to non-vitamin users, despite no clinical difference in measurable health outcomes. This is a great example of the PLACEBO EFFECT!
When would vitamin supplementation be useful?*
*This is not specific medical advice. Please see your doctor if you’re unsure
You don’t need to take a multivitamin, unless you’re deficient. And then – you should only be taking the thing you’re deficient in, not a multi.
If you think it’s a good safety blanket – remember vitamins from food are better than manufactured ones.
Consult your GP if you are unsure – and get a blood test before buying supplements
Save your money, put it in a separate bank account called TNA and put it towards your education next time we open doors to the Academy!! ;)
In the meantime, check out my new TRIATHLON NUTRITION KICKSTART course at triathlonnutritionkickstarter.com
Paranjpe et al. 2020. Self-reported health without clinically measurable benefits among adult users of multivitamin and multimineral supplements: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. Available from: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/11/e039119