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 challenging for the body to get all the nutrients it needs from food, all the time. Every diet can have nutrient gaps—whether you’re vegan, paleo, keto, or eat everything. And there are also factors outside our diet that can play a role, like genetic variations, 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: Our Bodies Need Essential Nutrients.*
To understand the common nutrient 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 nutrient 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.*