Do we need a multivitamin?

posted in: Health News | 1


  1. Poor Digestion: Even when our food intake is good, inefficient digestion can limit our body’s uptake of vitamins. Some common causes of inefficient digestion are not chewing well enough and eating too quickly.   Each of these results in larger than normal food particle size, too large to allow complete action of digestive enzymes.   Many people with dentures are unable to chew as well as those with a full set of original teeth.
  1. Hot Coffee, Tea and Spices: Habitual drinking of liquids which are too hot, or consuming an excess of irritants such as coffee, tea or pickles and spices can cause inflammation of the digestive linings, resulting in a drop in secretion of digestive fluids and poorer extraction of vitamins and minerals from food.
  1. Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol is known to damage your liver and pancreas, which are vital to digestion and metabolism. It can also damage the lining of the intestinal tract and adversely affect the absorption of nutrients, leading to sub-clinical malnutrition.  Regular use of alcohol increases our body’s need for the B-group vitamins, particularly thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid and vitamins B12, A and C as well as the minerals zinc, magnesium and calcium.  Alcohol affects availability, absorption and metabolism of nutrients.
  1. Smoking: Smoking too much tobacco is also an irritant to the digestive tract and increases the metabolic requirements of vitamin C by at least 30% more than the typical requirements of a non-smoker. Vitamin C, which is normally present in such foods as paw paw, oranges and capsicums, oxidizes rapidly once these fruits are cut, juiced, cooked or stored in direct light or near heat.  Vitamin C is important for good immune function.




  1. Laxatives: Overuse of laxatives can result in poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from food by hastening the intestinal transit time. Paraffin and other mineral oils increase losses of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  Other laxatives used to excess can cause large losses of minerals such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.
  1. Fad Diets: Bizarre diets which miss out on whole groups of food can be seriously lacking in vitamins. Even the popular low fat diets, if taken to an extreme, can be deficient in vitamins A, D and E.  Vegetarian diets, which exclude meat and other animal sources, must be very skilfully planned to avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anaemia.
  1. Overcooking: Lengthy cooking or reheating of meat and vegetables can oxidize and destroy heat susceptible vitamins such as the B-group, C and E. Boiling vegetables leaches the water soluble vitamin B group as well as many minerals.  Light steaming is preferable.  Some vitamins, such as Vitamin B6, can be destroyed by irradiation from microwaves.
  1. Food Storage: Freezing food containing vitamin E can significantly reduce its levels once defrosted. Foods containing vitamin E exposed to heat and air can turn rancid.  Many common sources of vitamin E, such as bread and oils are now highly processed, so the vitamin E content is much reduced or missing totally, which increases storage life but can lower nutrient levels.  Vitamin E is an antioxidant which defensively inhibits oxidative damage to all tissues.  Other vitamin losses from food preserving can include vitamin B1 and C.
  1. Convenience foods: A diet overly dependent on highly refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour and white rice places greater demand on additional sources of B-group vitamins to process these carbohydrates. An unbalanced diet contributes to conditions such as irritability, lethargy and sleep disorders.
  1. Antibiotics: Some antibiotics although valuable in fighting infection, also kill off friendly bacteria in the gut which would normally be producing B-group vitamins to be absorbed through the intestinal walls. Such deficiencies can result in a variety of nervous conditions, and therefore it may be advisable to supplement with B-group vitamins when on a lengthy course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, and/or use pure Lactobacillus powders.
  1. Food Allergies: The omission of whole food groups from your diet, as is the case of individuals allergic to gluten or lactose, can mean the loss of significant dietary sources of nutrients such as thiamine, riboflavine or calcium.
  1. Crop Nutrient Losses: Some agricultural soils are deficient in trace elements. Decades of intense agriculture can overwork and deplete soils unless all of the soil nutrients, including trace elements are regularly replaced.  In one US Government survey, levels of essential minerals in crops were found to have declined by up to 68% over a four year period in the 1970’s.
  1. Accidents and Illnesses: Burns lead to a loss of protein and essential trace nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Surgery increases the need for zinc, vitamin E and other nutrients involved in the cellular repair mechanism.  The repair of broken bones will be retarded by an inadequate supply of calcium and vitamin C and conversely enhanced by a full dietary supply.  The challenge of infection places high demand on the nutritional resources of zinc, magnesium and vitamins B5, B6 and zinc.
  1. Stress: Chemical, physical and emotional stresses can increase our body’s requirements for vitamins B2, B5, B6 and C. Air pollution increases the requirements for vitamin E.


Stress Man

  1. M.T: Research has demonstrated that up to 60% of women suffering from symptoms of premenstrual tension such as headaches, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, lethargy and depression can benefit from supplementation with vitamin B6.
  1. Teenagers: Rapid growth spurts such as those in the teenage years, particularly in girls, place high demand on nutritional resources to underwrite the accelerated physical, biochemical and emotional development in this age group. Data from the US Ten State Nutrition Survey (in 1968-70 covering a total of 24,000 families and 86,000 individuals) showed that between 30 to 50% of adolescents aged 12 to 16 had dietary intakes below two thirds of the recommended daily averages for vitamin A, C, calcium and iron.
  1. Pregnant Women: Pregnancy creates higher than average demands for nutrients to ensure healthy growth of the baby and comfortable confinement for the mother. Nutrients which typically require increases during pregnancy are the B group, especially B1,B2,B3,B6, folic acid and B12, A,D,E and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.  The Ten State Nutrition Survey in the US in 1968-70 showed that as many as 80% of the pregnant women surveyed had dietary intakes below two thirds of the recommended daily allowances.  Professional assessment of nutritional requirements during pregnancy should be sought.
  1. Oral Contraceptives: Oral contraceptives can decrease absorption of folic acid and increase the need for vitamin B6, and possibly vitamin C, zinc and riboflavin. Approximately 22% of Australian women aged between 15 and 44 are believed to be on the pill at any one time.
  1. Light Eaters: Some people eat very sparingly, even without weight reduction goals. US dietary surveys have shown that an average woman maintains her weight on 7560 kilojoules per day.  At this level her diet is likely to be low in thiamine, calcium and iron.
  1. The Elderly: Older persons have been shown to have a low intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron, calcium and zinc. Folic acid deficiency is often found, in conjunction with vitamin C deficiency.  Fibre intake is often low.  Riboflavine (B2) and pyridoxine (B6) deficiencies have also been observed.  Possible problems include impaired sense of taste and smell, reduced secretion of digestive enzymes, chronic disease and physical impairment.




  1. Lack of Sunlight: Invalids, shift workers and people whose exposure to sunlight may be minimal can suffer from insufficient amounts of vitamin D, which is required for calcium metabolism, without which bone thinning (osteoporosis) has been observed. Ultraviolet light is the stimulus to vitamin D formation in the skin.  It is blocked by cloud, smog, ordinary window glass, curtains and clothing.  The maximum recommended intake of vitamin D is 400IU.
  1. Bioavailability: Wide fluctuations in individual nutrient requirements from the official recommended average vitamin and mineral intakes are common, particularly for those in high physical demand vocations such as athletes and manual labourers, taking into account body weight and physical shape. Protein intake influences the need for vitamin B6 and vitamin B1 is linked to kilojoule intake.
  1. Low Body Reserves: Although our body is able to store reserves of certain vitamins such as A and E, Canadian autopsy data has shown that up to 30% of the population have reserves of vitamin A so low as to be judged “at risk”. Vitamin A is important to healthy skin and mucous membranes (including the sinus and lung) and eyesight.
  1. Athlete: Athletes consume large amounts of food and experience considerable stress. These factors affect their need for B group vitamins, vitamin C and iron.  Tests on Australian Olympic athletes and elite football players have shown wide ranging vitamin deficiencies.



One Response

  1. John Pantland
    | Reply

    Hope you are well and that you can assist me, as I am becoming a bit frustrated.
    Been searching your site, to no avail, in respect to lack of smell and taste. I have had congestion and a “head cold” and have been prescribed antibiotics. However, my taste and smell has not returned after 6 weeks. I am not wanting to take Sudafed, but would like to take a more “natural” approach that you may recommend. I know you are busy and get requests all the time, nevertheless, I am hoping you can give me some direction for easement of my irritating problem. In conclusion, when you have the time, it would be appreciated if you could advise me on my problem. Kind regards John P

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