About 75% of Americans use a supplement in some form, about 90% of these being multivitamins. The most common reason people have for taking multivitamins is to benefit their overall health. But this might be a waste of money for most people. Let's look into the facts.
Why you probably don't need them
Unless you are low in a certain vitamin or mineral, you are not likely to benefit from taking a multivitamin. In certain instances, such as deficiencies in Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, or iron, taking supplements can be great. If you are pregnant, have a poor diet, or follow a special dietary routine, you might need to take extra supplements.
But for the vast majority of people, a multivitamin is not necessary. Many people would benefit a lot simply by altering their diet and lifestyle. This includes more outdoor time, exercise, and fruits and vegetables in their diet. John Hopkins University writes that many people might be using multivitamins as a crutch, instead of switching to a much more healthy lifestyle.
The first thing to do if you are worried about having a nutrient deficiency is to go to your doctor and get tested. That way you can consume the right amounts to get your body back on track, with the supervision of your doctor.
Why you might benefit from them
If you have a poor diet, are pregnant, or follow a specific diet, you might benefit from taking a supplement. For instance, a vegan diet is incredibly healthy, but tends to not include Vitamin B12 and is low in Vitamin D. So consuming a multivitamin, or those specific vitamins can be beneficial.
You can also consume fortified plant-milks and other fortified foods as well. This can help if you are one of the many people who don't get sunlight often and therefore are low in Vitamin D.
Taking a Vitamin D supplement in the winter, or if you are in an area that does not get much direct sunlight, might also help.
But the main thing is to talk to your doctor first. Taking too much of a certain nutrient, like Supplementary Vitamin A, or Iron can be harmful. So eat a healthy diet, and listen to your doctor.