According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, approximately half of all American adults have at least one chronic disease related to physical inactivity and a poor quality diet. While the Dietary Guidelines recommend that nutritional needs should be met mostly from the foods we consume, this is challenging for many people.
Many of the foods we consume today are over-processed and lacking in required nutrients. Even when people make healthy eating choices, it can be hard to meet the careful balance needed to obtain sufficient daily nutrition requirements while staying within recommended calorie limits. In particular, very few of us consume the recommended daily amount of vegetables and fruits, yet these foods are often the most nutrient-dense. Access to fresh food is not as easy as getting food that has been processed to be easy to transport and for longer shelf life – and fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than their canned counterparts, which adds to the difficulty.
In addition, there are other factors that impact the ability of our bodies to get the nutrients they need. A number of medications actually deplete the body of nutrients. For example, medications to block production of stomach acid cause deficiencies in vitamin B12, and may lower iron and calcium as well. Oral contraceptives can cause deficiencies in vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, and E, along with deficiencies in needed minerals.
While it’s certainly best to get your nutrients from a diet rich in fresh, non-processed foods, a good multivitamin can help fill in the gaps. A multivitamin is not a substitute, but a SUPPLEMENT to a healthy diet.