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Should You Switch To A Whole Food Multivitamin?

Most people won’t debate the importance of taking a daily multivitamin, but what you might not realize is that the type of multivitamin you take is also important.

Plenty of adults simply aren’t getting enough vital nutrients. Even those of us committed to a healthy lifestyle can struggle to ingest the many cups of veggies, fruits, fiber, and protein necessary to provide our bodies with maximum nutrition. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends taking in between one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables each day. If you’re one of the 67 to 87 percent of Americans who aren’t getting this recommended amount, a whole-food multivitamin could come in handy.

The Benefits of Whole-Food Multis

A study done by The Permanente Journal shows that a whole foods and plant-based diet can promote cardiovascular health, while a study in Nutritional Diabetes concluded that eating whole foods helped people manage their weight and improve their BMI and cholesterol levels. Two good reasons to consider switching to a whole food multi (and to be eating whole foods in general).

Related: 5 Key Nutrients You REALLY Don’t Want To Miss Out On

Plus, whole food multis have less synthetic and more natural ingredients. “Just as I would encourage someone to consume whole food over a supplement, I would also encourage the consumption of a whole-food multivitamin over a more synthetic, man-made product,” says Jim White, RD and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studio. “It’s more likely for the skin of various fruits and vegetables to be included in these wholesome supplements,” adds White. “This is important because the skin of most fruits and vegetables is often where the majority of their nutrients are housed.”

For those looking for more plant-derived ingredients, whole-food multis are a good option. A lot of whole-food multis use plant-based capsules (like cellulose), unlike other multis that use gelatin (which is animal-derived).

Shopping For Whole-Food Multis

According to Brian Tanzer, M.S., nutritionist and manager of scientific affairs for The Vitamin Shoppe, “True whole-food multis have all ingredients sourced directly from whole foods, like mykind Organics from Garden of Life.”

Others are blended with some whole foods. “Many other whole-food multis are manufactured using a fermentation process where they combine whole foods with nutrients. This fermentation process results in a blend of nutrients bound to whole foods, making the nutrients easy to digest and absorb,” says Tanzer.

Both of these are perfectly good choices, Tanzer says. It all comes down to personal preference: whether you want 100% whole food sources, or multis with some whole food sources and other nutrients not from whole food sources. Often, 100% whole-food multis are a bit more costly.

the Bottom Line

Whole-food multis are a great option, but it’s important to note that you shouldn’t replace the consumption of whole foods with a multi—you want to eat your whole foods while supplementing with a whole-food multi. This is to ensure you are “covering your bases, and ingesting adequate amounts of all micronutrients on a daily basis,” White says.

Related: Why Do Multivitamins Turn Your Urine Yellow?

Of course, you will still get the benefits of multivitamins if they’re not whole-food multis: “The body recognizes the vitamins and minerals whether it’s from whole food or a synthetic multivitamin,” Tanzer says. “Both provide a good way to fill nutrient gaps in your diet, and either can help you meet your daily requirements for all essential nutrients.”

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