Science

5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Take a Multivitamin

4 min read

If you’re wondering whether or not you actually need to take a daily multivitamin, the main thing to know is this: No matter how healthy you eat or what kind of diet you follow, it can be difficult for your body to get all the nutrients it needs from food, all the time. Every diet can have gaps—whether you’re vegan, paleo, keto, or eat everything. And there are also factors outside your diet that can play a role, like genetic variations, your age, and current life stage.

Four factors have helped our scientific team better understand nutrient gaps in women and men: dietary intake, specific lifestyle and diet, genetic considerations, and intake vs. utilization. Yes, we just dropped some terms on you. Let’s dig in.

1. Dietary Intake: Your body needs essential nutrients.

To understand the common gaps in diets, our science team relies on NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)—the world’s most comprehensive nutritional database—to look at a representative sampling of what Americans eat versus what they actually need.

There are a couple of ways to judge nutrient gaps. One is following the recommended daily values by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) that you always see on food and supplement labels. But to get the full picture, we also look at The Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) and Estimated Average Requirements (EARs)—scientists love their acronyms, right?

Through analyzing all of this data, we’ve been able to zero in on some of the common nutrients that are lacking in men and women’s diets—and how those needs fluctuate according to age, sex, and different life stages, like pregnancy and menopause.

But here’s an unsettling truth: Some multivitamins may include unnecessary extras, like synthetic colorants and fillers—not to mention some nutrients that we're getting enough of through our daily diets. Take vitamin C, for example: Just one medium orange, 1 grapefruit, or a cup of broccoli each contain the daily RDI of vitamin C. Another thing? Vitamin C actually works best when it's paired with polyphenols, naturally-occurring phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. And since overdoing it on some nutrients can impact others, less really is more.*

2. Specific Lifestyle & Diet—Vegan? Vegetarian? Eat a little bit of everything? You may have different nutrient gaps.

Because we know that averages can’t tell the whole story, we also look at data for people who follow diets like veganism, vegetarianism, and other groups that may have different dietary needs and intakes than the general population.

The truth is that some nutrients are found more abundantly in animal products—NHANES and other studies show that key nutrient intakes like Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, omega-3 DHA and Iron are commonly low in vegans. That said, we wouldn't expect you to give up the balanced diet you love—in fact, our founder and CEO is vegan. This is where a vegan-friendly multivitamin comes into play. Keeping those aforementioned gaps in mind is a start; details like formulating with vegan omega-3 DHA sourced from microalgae and a plant-based capsule take it to the next level.*

Nutrient Gaps

3. Life stage: You deserve a multivitamin designed for your age.

Pregnant? Postmenopausal? 50+? Throughout your life, your nutrient needs evolve—even if you continue to enjoy a consistently healthy diet. For pregnant women, certain nutrients like Folate and Choline become super important—but can be hard to get enough of through your diet without taking a multivitamin. And if you’re 50+? You might need some additional support for bone health—but probably don't need as much iron. The bottom line? Your multivitamin should grow right along with you, in our opinion.*

4. Nutrigenetics: You’re a beautiful, unique creature—and that can impact your nutrient needs.

What are nutrigenetics? It’s a very nuanced area of science that we’ll boil down to this: Genetics can affect how your body processes certain nutrients. Nutrigenetics are super important because genetic variations can make certain nutrient forms difficult for some of us to efficiently utilize. And knowing whether you have one of these variations—also known as a polymorphism—isn’t always easy.

One example is a variation of the gene MTHFR, which up to 1/3 of men and women have. This genetic variation can make it difficult to efficiently utilize folic acid, the synthetic form of Folate. Folate is essential for all of us, which is why choosing a multivitamin with methylated Folate (and not Folic Acid, which is commonly used in multivitamins) can be important when it comes to supporting your nutrient needs.*

5. Intake vs. Utilization: We all may need a little help sometimes—and multivitamins are no exception.

While your diet might technically meet your daily intake for some nutrients, it’s important to make sure that those nutrients are efficiently utilized. For one thing, some nutrients actually work better together.

One example: calcium. It gets a lot of credit for supporting bone health, but it actually works alongside other nutrients behind the scenes. Magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K are three calcium-helper nutrients. Taking a multivitamin can help support adequate intake of these “helper” nutrients, to bolster the calcium you’re getting through your diet.*

Multivitamins: To help fill gaps in your diet.*

In theory, your diet should always give you the nutrients you need—but in reality, that’s really tough.

Getting enough nutrients—and doing it continuously, every single day—is crucial for supporting your nutrient levels, so they can help your body function. We wish that could always happen without the help of a multivitamin, but that’s a tall order thanks to all the little things that make you…well, you.

Think of it this way: Taking a multivitamin is like a nutrient insurance plan. In the areas where your food falls short, getting support from a quality multivitamin helps fill nutrient gaps—no matter your dietary preferences, age, or current life stage.*

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Meet the Experts

What happens when a Harvard trained physiologist, a biochemist, and a registered dietician walk into a lab? The answer: Ritual multivitamins.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke Bucci received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas and has over thirty years of experience in the nutrition industry, encompassing all aspects of scientific applications. He has brought blockbuster products to market, written books, patents and numerous articles, and developed certification programs for clinical nutritionists.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke Bucci received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas and has over thirty years of experience in the nutrition industry, encompassing all aspects of scientific applications. He has brought blockbuster products to market, written books, patents and numerous articles, and developed certification programs for clinical nutritionists.