Is it beneficial to take multivitamins?

Modified: 29th Nov 2021
Wordcount: 4615 words

Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay. Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.
This essay may contain factual inaccuracies or out of date material. Please refer to an authoritative source if you require up-to-date information on any health or medical issue.

Cite This

There is a lot of controversy around multivitamins and supplements and whether or not they are actually beneficial to our health. There have been multiple studies done on multivitamins and there are a few theories about their effect on one's health. Some studies show that multivitamins have no benefit to one's health while other studies claim that taking multivitamins or supplements can improve one's immune system and can even prevent more complex problems such as cardiovascular disease. However, other authors/researchers argue that taking a pill does not fix all health issues and that it is more important to try to eat nutritious food and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

It can be argued that it is better to take one specific vitamin or mineral rather than a multivitamin to get a more concentrated effect. Taking selected vitamins to target specific health concerns or deficiencies may be more beneficial to overall health than simply taking any supplement.Taking only certain vitamins that obtain to your personal health may be more beneficial to our overall health. For example, a study conducted by Simin Nikbin Meydani and Alison A. Beharka called Recent Developments in Vitamin E and Immune Response​ ​ explains that vitamin E is an essential part of maintaining a healthy immune system.(Meydan, Nikbin, & A. 1998). Their study reviewed how immune deficiencies and taking vitamin E supplements can improve weak or deficient immune systems.

Another opinion by Mindy Hermann is that it is common for people who suffer from immune deficiencies often turn to vitamins or supplements to boost their immune system when there has not been any consistent or solid proof that taking vitamins or supplements can really help improve their immune systems.

Taking vitamins can be a quintessential part of our health if our bodies are not getting enough of the nutrients it needs. Some of the major vitamins that humans need to survive--and that most people are deficient in --are vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin B. With today's modern diet it can be hard to get all the right nutrients that our bodies need to perform daily functions. This is proven by a study conducted by Anitra C. Carr and Silvia Maggini explaining how if the body is lacking vitamin C it can affect the immune system in harmful ways. "Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans, with pleiotropic functions related to its ability to donate electrons. It is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor for a family of biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.

Vitamin C accumulates in​ phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis/NETosis and potential tissue damage. The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100-200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels.

In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.​ ​"( Carr AC & Maggini S 2017). This information gives a little more insight on vitamin C and how crucial it is for our bodies to have​​and it's crucial role in body function. The same article explains more about how important Vitamin C is to our health and states "accumulation of millimolar concentrations of vitamin C into neutrophils, particularly following activation of their oxidative burst, is thought to protect these cells from oxidative damage [119]. Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant that can scavenge numerous reactive oxidants and can also regenerate the important cellular and membrane antioxidants glutathione and vitamin E [120]. Upon phagocytosis or activation with soluble stimulants, vitamin C is depleted from neutrophils in an oxidant-dependent manner." ( Carr AC & Maggini S 2017). This research suggests that​​if a person has a vitamin C deficiency it would be more than beneficial for them to take a vitamin C supplement since without the supplement and their vitamin C deficiencies they may run into more severe health problems which could in turn lead to lifelong health conditions.

Others may argue that instead of taking vitamins or supplements it is better for your health to change habits. Lifestyle change is a natural way and it can improve not only your physical health but your psychological health as well​​your physical health but it can also improve your psychological health as well. Some of the important lifestyle changes suggested include changing dietary habits and exercise patterns as well as learning how to cope with stressors that occur in one's day to day life.

According to Verena Van Fleet, a professor from Northwestern Health Sciences University, "Excellent nutrition is the backbone of maintaining good health and a strong immune response throughout the year," says Demeter. "During cold and flu season, you should increase your consumption of warming foods, such as soups and teas, and decrease your consumption of cold and raw foods (Fleet 2010)." "Vitamin C: Found in fruits, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. or Vitamin A: Found in orange and red veggies such as carrots and greens such as kale. Also found in meat, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products Vitamin D: Found in egg yolk, cod liver oil and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Milk and other dairy products are often fortified with it. Small amounts of vitamin D are produced when you are exposed to the sun although exposure to the sun should be in moderation. This may help explain why people tend to get sick more often during the winter when there is less daylight and people are less likely to be outside." "Dehydration affects your skin and mucous membranes which are the first line of defense in preventing pathogens from entering your body. If your mucus membranes are dried out, it can create a problem. They are responsible for flushing out your system. Pathogens can easily attach to cells and get into your body. This is especially important during exercise" (Fleet 2010).

Another essential part of a healthy immune system is by having a good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a very important aspect to one's health. It is not very common for people to be deficient in vitamin E but it does happen. According to Simin Nikbin Meydani and Alison A. Beharka."Vitamin E deficiency is characterized by peripheral neuropathy and ataxia is rare in humans because the vitamin is available in many foods, easily stored, and readily reused by the body (Meydani, Beharka 1996). When deficiency does occur, the cause is usually malabsorption-a result of fat malabsorption or genetic abnormalities in lipoprotein metabolism." ←1.

Their studies have shown 8.→Studies in farm and laboratory animals have consistently shown that vitamin E deficiency disrupts normal immune responsiveness, resulting in increased mortality and morbidity in response to challenge. Both humoral and cell mediated immune functions are affected by vitamin E deficiency (Bendich 1990) Tengerdy et al. (1 973) showed that mice deficient in vitamin E had depressed humoral immunity as measured by plaque-forming cells and hemagglutination (HA) titer in response to sheep red blood cell (SRBC) injection than mice fed a sufficient amount of vitamin E. The adverse effect of vitamin E deficiency on humoral immunity was restored to normal by supplementation with vitamin E, but not by the synthetic antioxidant N,N-diphenyl-p-phenylenediamine.

Impaired T cell function and moderate impairment of B cell action resulting from vitamin E deficiency was also reported by Bendich (1 988a)" (Simin Nikbin Meydani and Alison A. Beharka 1996). This study shows how in other types of mammals the effects of having a vitamin E deficiency does to the body and the way it functions which then gives us more of an insight on how this vitamin may affect humans. This study demonstrates the impact of vitamin E deficiency in other mammals, and may provide insight into the importance of Vitamin E for humans.

Magnesium is another crucial mineral for our body to be taken in. Taking magnesium can help improve overall health and keep the body functioning properly. Some of the benefits from taking Magnesium are that it can improve regulation of muscles, nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, as well and contributing to the production of protein, bone and DNA. "Magnesium has a very important role and function in life. It is one of the familiar metals that, in minute amounts, is necessary for the body's proper metabolism to occur. It normally occurs at low concentrations and is known as a trace metal. Its bioavailability may change due to aging. A number of surveys show magnesium intake by old persons to be lower than the corresponding reference nutrient intakes,​ however, its deficiency among the elderly is also well documented,​ especially among the institutionalised and people with pathologies (Bhutto et al. 2005).

Magnesium (Mg) is one of the most abundant ions present in living cells and its plasma concentration is remarkably constant in healthy subjects. Magnesium plays important roles in the structure and the function of the human body. The adult human body contains about 25 grams of magnesium. Over 60% of all the magnesium in the body is found in the skeleton, about 27% in muscle, while 6 to 7% is found in other cells and less than 1% is found outside cells. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions.

In cellular systems, magnesium is the second most abundant element and is involved in basically all metabolic pathways. At physiologically relevant concentrations, magnesium itself is not genotoxic, but is highly required to maintain genomic stability. Besides its stabilizing effect on DNA and chromatin structure, magnesium is an essential cofactor in almost all enzymatic systems involved in DNA processing. Most obvious in studies on DNA replication, its function is not only charge-related, but very specific with respect to the high fidelity of DNA synthesis.

Furthermore, as an essential cofactor in nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair and mismatch repair magnesium is required for the removal of DNA damage generated by environmental mutagens, endogenous processes and DNA replication. Intracellular magnesium concentrations are highly regulated and magnesium acts as an intracellular regulator of cell cycle control and apoptosis." (Anonymous 2019). Having magnesium in your system is very important and if your body is lacking magnesium it can really damage the immune system and your health.

Multivitamins and supplements are also part of a business they are not part of a business--they are a multimillion dollar industry! When it comes to businesses it is about the profit and how much money you can make off of the product that is being sold. This profit making ​​is done by marketing to people and making people feel that they need what is being sold to them. In this case the products being sold are multivitamins and supplements. It does not seem like selling multivitamins and supplements would be a big money maker but contrary to that belief it is more of a business than one would think. "Vitamins and supplements are big business in the US. Americans spent almost $34 billion on them in 2013, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. These products are heavily marketed.

The dietary supplement industry in the United States is a growing, multi-billion dollar industry. Dietary supplements, which include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids, are widely used by adults and children of all ages. In fact, Americans spent an estimated $36.7 billion on dietary supplements in 2014 (Anonymous, 201 5). Dietary supplements sold for weight loss, muscle building, and sexual function are commonly used. Americans spent $2 billion in 2015 on dietary supplements for weight loss (Anonymous, 2014) , which is among the most common reasons for dietary supplement use (Bailey et al., 201 3)​ . Americans spent $2.6 billion on muscle-building products in 2015 (McKenna, 2015) . There is also a substantial market for dietary supplements promising enhanced sexual function. Recently, one manufacturer was found to produce over one million capsules per month of a supplement sold for sexual functioning, netting more than $2 million dollars in three years. The global sexual-function supplement industry likely generates tens of millions, if not billions, of dollars yearly." (Canham, 2011, ​ Cohen and Venhuis, 201 3, ​ Szalavitz , 2013. This information shows the role of marketing in promoting the industry since 2014 these products have been only increasing in popularity and the manufacturing companies that produce them are making more money.

Manufacturers or Vitamin companies also put in a lot of work to market to children and vitamins into something children want. For example, they will put the most popular TV shows on the vitamin bottles so that children will insist on getting them. These companies also make them look more like candy because they know that the more appetizing they look the more the kids will pester their parents for them. There are so many different tactics to make something as simple as multivitamins seem so appealing to everyone.

One of the major ways multivitamins have been marketed or promoted to the public is with the notion​​that taking certain kinds of multivitamins and supplements can improve health and prevent conditions as significant as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and some kinds of cancer. These are some of the more complex medical problems that people suffer from and it seems a little far-fetched that taking a single and simple pill can be the "cure" for such conditions. There seems to be little data or evidence supporting these types of claims says Farin Kamangar and​ Ashkan Emadi with the International Journal of Prevention Medicine​ ​."When the​ Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) study presented the first strong evidence for a harmful effect of vitamins in 1994,[4] health scientists were caught by surprise. The results of this large-scale 2 × 2 factorial design trial, which randomized over 29,000 middle-aged Finnish smoker men to receive α-tocopherol (a form of vitamin E), beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), both, or neither, showed that β-carotene statistically significantly increased lung cancer incidence by 18% and total mortality by 8%, mainly due to increased deaths from lung cancer and ischemic cardiac disease.[4] α-tocopherol did not materially change the risk of lung cancer or total deaths.

Despite the strong design of this trial and its large sample size, the results were met with skepticism. The results were deemed to be inconsistent with several of the previously published observational studies, based on which the trial had been designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer.[5 , 6 ]​ Several of the accompanying letters of correspondence, published in the New England Journal of Medicine​ ​, pointed to the potential shortcomings of this study, such as short duration of the study (i.e., a median follow-up of six years). Nevertheless, the results of most of the subsequent trials, using other forms of vitamins and supplements, conducted in different populations and with different durations of use, have confirmed no benefit or even harm from the use of such vitamin supplements." (Farin Kamangar​ and Ashkan Emadi 2012) .

This is just one short example of how there is not much evidence that​ supports the claim that taking multivitamins or supplements can help cure some diseases such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. Another set of research done by Elizebeth Ward addressing nutritional gaps with multivitamin and mineral supplements talks about how there may be benefits from taking vitamins,but notes again how there is very minimal evidence supporting such claims. Ward says "There is minimal evidence that supplementation with individual micronutrients reduces cardiovascular disease risk. Research into potential cardiovascular benefits of dietary supplements has focused particularly on B vitamins because of their established correlation with levels of homocysteine, a marker for cardiovascular disease risk, including ischemic stroke [64]. A meta-analysis of 19 RCTs of B vitamins (including folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and B-complex vitamins) found no effect of supplementation on rates of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (MI), cardiovascular death, or all-cause mortality despite significant reductions in homocysteine levels; however, the risk of stroke was reduced by 12% (RR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.82–0.95) [64]. A second meta-analysis of 26 RCTs of folic acid supplementation resulted in a 7% reduction in risk of stroke." (Elizabeth Ward 2014).

Find Out How Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our academic writing services

In the two articles written by Farin Kamangar and Ashkan Emadi and Elizebeth Ward the authors agree that there is just not enough evidence to come to the conclusion that multivitamins can benefit individuals with cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, the authors also acknowledge that there is still opportunity for more research in the future which might make a solid argument for the claim that multivitamins can actually be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular disease or cancer.

There are so many theories that have been offered​​surrounding the benefits of taking multivitamins or supplements. However, the most common answer and the most likely answer is that if you take the right vitamins for you and what your body needs they can be very beneficial. Vitamins supply your body with the things that it may lack. It has been proven that replacing deficiencies or supplementing specific deficiencies may help your body function, but that does not mean that supplements will replace food. While taking vitamins may be beneficial they alone cannot cure diseases such as Cardiovascular disease or cancer. Multivitamins and supplements can support body function​​they do not replace what the body does.

The human body is one of if not the most complex things that exists. There are so many things that go into making the body function that it would be impossible for vitamins and minerals alone to make the body function to the best of its abilities. Vitamins, minerals, diets, nutrients are only a fraction of what makes the human body function. However, they are also a crucial fraction without which the body would not be able to function. When it comes to overall health it is important to know that there is a balance that needs to be maintained with taking in nutrients naturally and if needed adding in a supplement if needed.

Works Cited

Carr, Anitra C, and Silvia Maggini. "Vitamin C and Immune Function." Nutrients​ ​, MDPI, 3 Nov. 2017, 3. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.

Kamangar, Farin, and Ashkan Emadi. "Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Do We Really Need Them?" International Journal of Preventive Medicine​ ​, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Mar. 2012, /. Accessed 12​ Dec. 2019.

Meydan, et al. "Recent Developments in Vitamin E and Immune Response." OUP Academic​ ​, Oxford University Press, 1 Jan. 1998, Accessed 14 Dec. 2019.

Maggini, Silvia, et al. "Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course." Nutrients​ ​, MDPI, 17 Oct. 2018, Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.​

Kim, Joonseok. "Association of Multivitamin and Mineral Supplementation and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease." AHA Journals, ​ ​Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes, 2018;11:e004224. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.117.004224. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.

Kevin B. Comerford. "Recent Developments in Multivitamin/Mineral Research." Advances in Nutrition​, Volume 4, Issue 6, November 2013, Pages 644–656,​ Accessed 14 Nov. 2019.

Mindy Hermann. " Supplements Can They Boost The Immune System." Model guidance Prevention, investigation and treatment of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency; Kent Surrey and Sussex Health Policy Support Unit.​ Supplements Who Needs Them.

Dr. Van Fleet, and Sher Demeter, LAc. " Strengthen Your Immune System."

Elizabeth Ward " Addressing nutritional gaps with multivitamin and mineral supplements." /

Annette Dickinson and Douglas MacKay "Health habits and other characteristics of dietary supplement users: a review."

Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD. " Hellas Cena, MD. The Use of Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements: A Modified Delphi Consensus Panel Report." / Accessed 14 Dec. 2019.

Stephen P. Fortmann, MD; Brittany U. Burda, MPH. "Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: An Updated Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force." Accessed 16 Nov.​ 2019.

Dietary supplements to prevent heart disease or cancer. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins & Micronutrients: Vitamin D. / Accessed 14 Dec.​ 2019.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Give Yourself The Academic Edge Today

  • On-time delivery or your money back
  • A fully qualified writer in your subject
  • In-depth proofreading by our Quality Control Team
  • 100% confidentiality, the work is never re-sold or published
  • Standard 7-day amendment period
  • A paper written to the standard ordered
  • A detailed plagiarism report
  • A comprehensive quality report
Discover more about our
Essay Writing Service

Essay Writing


Approximate costs for Undergraduate 2:2

1000 words

7 day delivery

Order An Essay Today

Delivered on-time or your money back logo

1827 reviews

Get Academic Help Today!

Encrypted with a 256-bit secure payment provider