Should I take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement?

The million dollar nutritional question; should I be taking a supplement or are they a waste of money? In an ideal world we shouldn’t need to take additional nutrients; we should be able to get all of our nutrients from food and we would have no health issues to contend with. Getting nutrients from food is more difficult than we think. Firstly there is the issue of cultivation, then there is storage and lastly preparation.

Here’s a video I made on: Are Supplements Bad? For my Friends at BWN

Cultivation – what environment is the food grown in? Did you know that when a tomato is picked from the vine before it is a vibrant red colour it has less of the antioxidants, lycopene and beta carotene, of a vine-ripened tomato? Ever had a tomato that tasted like water and felt like powder in your mouth? How about a tomato that your grandmother grew and picked at its prime? Sweet and velvety right? Vine ripened tomatoes have higher levels of the super powerful antioxidants lycopene and beta carotene[1]. It isn’t just tomatoes that develop more nutrients on the vine or tree. The nutrient chemical pigments in a fruit or vegetable are also the same chemicals that give it colour. Low in colour = low in flavour = low in nutrients.

Storage – too dry, too cold, too moist, too warm, too long. Storage issues have a huge impact on food, as well as supplements.

Preparation – prepackaged food is always lower in nutritional value than fresh, cooking damages (to a certain extent) foods and as soon as we cut a vegetable or fruit it starts to oxidise.

Nutritional status is the foundation of wellness. It is what separates those in robust health to those who are at a sub optimal health. Therefore I conclude that a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement is the foundation to optimal nutritional status and therefore to wellness. In fact a scientific review on the topic from a team at Harvard University concluded that everyone should be taking a multivitamin. Suboptimal levels, above those causing classic deficiencies are a risk factor for chronic illness eg folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects and colon and breast cancers. It is very important to have a product of exceptional quality and efficacy.
How can I find an exceptional supplement?
Look for:
  • Evidence based formulations with clinically effective dosages ie they should have scientific references and be developed by practitioners/scientists
  • High levels of commonly deficient nutrients such as vitamin D, Zinc, Iodine and Selenium
  • Company should have standard formula for general use, as well as specific formulas for men, women, children and pregnancy
  • High strength B vitamins so you don’t need an additional B-Complex
  • Plant based phytochemical that support unique male and female health needs
  • Condition or illness specific formula
  • Professional strength formulas
  • Ingredients that have certificates of analysis ie testing of raw materials
  • Remember that quality ingredients delivered at effective dosages are not cheap
  • Formulas free from binders, fillers and additives

If a company can’t tell you the following don’t buy from them! :

  • Where their ingredients came from
  • Why the nutrients in the formula were included
  • Who developed the formula
  • What the formula is for and who it is best for
  • what relevant qualifications the staff have – biochemistry, nutrition, food science.

In summary have a read of the links below to make your own judgement. I know what works for me and my patients but you have to do what you feel is right for you. Multivitamin and mineral supplements are not intended to replace healthy eating recommendations; rather leading experts recommend they are used as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.



Colour changes and antioxidant content of vine and postharvest -ripened tomatoes

Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults; clinical applications

Most vitamin studies flawed by poor methodology

Vitamins and minerals can boost energy and enhance mood.

The Vitamin C pee myth

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About the author

Emma Wight-Boycott MSc is a natural health advocate with a passion for simplifying the science. Emma works with postnatal mums, weekend runners and those with digestive issues to rediscover their health mojo!

9 comments on “Should I take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement?”

  1. advocare distributor Reply

    This is a great primer. I am not a big fan of vitamin pills because they are generally too dense to break down efficiently or have filler that lower their effectiveness. So if a person is going to take a supplement do your research and find the ones that are the most bio-available.

    Advocare Distributor
    Nutrition + Fitness = Health
    For information visit:

  2. Nadine Hill Reply

    That is food for thought Emma! It is interesting about the peaks and troughs in our energy levels and how artificial stimulants like sugar can bring us back lower than we were before we had them. This is something I’m interested in at the moment as I try to keep my blood sugar level on an even keel…

    • EmmaNutrition Reply

      The key is in the small changes Nadine. For eg I love sugar in my coffee so I’ve emptied the sugar container that sits near the coffee machine. If I have a weak moment the sugar bowl is empty and I can’t be bothered to rummage I the baking cupboard to find the sugar so I don’t have it! I also make these chocolates and keep protein levels high, processed carbs low.

      Email me if you want any personal tips for your body.

      Many people have thyroid, adrenal, low metabolism that makes it difficult to decrease sugar. When we address these things its much easier to cut out sugar 🙂

  3. ⌚Nadine Hill (@businessmum) Reply

    Great vlog Emma. I’m particularly interested in how we artificially stimulate our energy levels with sugar or caffeine then come crashing down again needing more to achieve the same energy.
    This is something I’m actively looking at in my own diet as I try to rid myself of sugar!

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