Multivitamins – A Necessity or Another Health Trend?

by Lebogang Mashasha

With all the health products available on the market, it is important to understand them before purchasing and consuming them. Having the relevant information on multivitamins can assist you in making wiser decisions for your health.

What are multivitamins?

Our bodies need vitamins and minerals on a daily basis in order for us to function properly. Multivitamins are supplements that assist the body’s vital organs to work efficiently. They are a combination of various vitamins and minerals (which are essential micronutrients such as calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, potassium etc) and other nutrients which are found in the food we eat and other sources of nature. Multivitamins are there to assist and not replace food. They predominantly come in tablets, capsules, powders, or liquids.

What is the purpose of multivitamins?

Broadly speaking; multivitamins help to supplement our diets with the nutrients that our body requires in order for it to function properly. Their purpose is to provide people with the daily required amount of all the nutrients needed.

They also treat vitamin deficiencies caused by a poor nutrional diet and various health conditions.

The benefits of using multivitamins

  • Combats fatigue by boosting energy levels
  • Combats fatigue by boosting energy levels
  • Helps prevent and fight nutritional deficiencies
  • Assists in stress management
  • Helps to improve short-term memory
  • Assists the liver and kidney to detoxify the body
  • Reduces risk of illness and disease

What are the side effects of multivitamins?

Multivitamins typically do not have severe side effects if taken as per the recommended dosage. The problem generally comes in if a variety of them are taken in large amounts, at the same time. You may experience mild side effects such as a headache, nausea, strange taste in the mouth or stomach pains.

Where can you get multivitamins?

Your doctor can prescribe them for you. Alternatively, you can go to self-medication counter at the pharmacy/chemist and the pharmacist can recommend which multivitamins you should take. Some universities have clinics on their campus which provide students with multivitamins by recommendation of the sister/nurse.

When should you take a multivitamin?

Multivitamins should be taken with food so that you reduce gastrointestinal side effects (these are issues relating to the stomach and intestines i.e. constipation, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea etc). Every multivitamin supplement will have instructions on the label of the packaging advising when and how you should consume the medication.

How many (doses) multivitamins should you take?

One brand of multivitamins is usually sufficient. It is not advisable to use many different types (brands) of multivitamin products simultaneously.

Ensure that you follow the dosage instructions provided on the labels of the packaging carefully. Do not over dose in the hopes of making the multivitamin more effective. Under dosing is not of any benefit to you either, because it makes the multivitamin ineffective. The dosage given is there for a reason and should be followed strictly.

Things to remember:

  • Follow the storage instructions because this ensures that the medication remains effective at all times.
  • Make sure that you refill your prescription before you run out of your medication.
  • If you have any signs of an allergic reaction (swelling of your face, hives etc) discontinue using the medication and seek medical attention immediately.

NB! Please consult a medical professional before taking any form of multivitamin and any other medication. They will do an analysis of your needs and be able to prescribe the right kind of multivitamin for you.


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