Take a nutritional fill pill

Melissa Shedden
November 1, 2016

Yes, variety is the spice of life—and one of the keys to a balanced diet. Still, only one in 20 Aussie adults meet the nutritional guidelines for daily intake of fruits and veg, according to the latest ABS research.


In fact, ABS data from 2014-15 shows 50.2% of Australians aged 18 years and over did not meet the guidelines for recommended daily serves of fruit (2 or more serves), while 93% did not meet the guidelines for serves of vegetables (5-6 or more serves for men depending on age, and 5 or more for women).


Eat the rainbow

Experts agree the best source of essential nutrients is whole food. We get a wide variety of nutrients from eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. But if you accidentally order the chips instead of the salad, on repeat, a multivitamin may be the dietary backup you need. Where supplements, in particular multivitamins, are generally prescribed, is for those who need nutritional support or aren’t managing to eat a nutritionally dense daily diet.


What’s in a multivitamin?

The short answer? Vitamins and minerals – with some containing herbs. The long answer? 30 plus ingredients depending on the specific supplement. We’re talking a long and varied list like B vitamins, iodine, biotin, folic acid, magnesium, gingko, green tea, Siberian ginseng, licorice, zinc, vitamin C and ginger. Antioxidants like grape seed are the free-radical-fighting cherry on top.


What does the science say?

While recent general science on multivitamins is inconclusive, a 2012 clinical study of Swisse Men's Ultivite published in the Nutrition Journal showed multivitamins helped improve alertness. Paying attention now? Meanwhile, a 2013 clinical study published in Appetite found multivitamin supplementation supported and maintained a healthy mood balance and energy levels. FYI, the 2013 study which was carried out by Swinburne University was done in healthy young adults aged 20 to 60 years old, over a 16-week period.

Keep in mind, if you take a multivitamin, it can’t substitute a healthy, balanced diet. Foods—particularly fruits, vegetables and whole grains—provide fibre as well as many potentially beneficial compounds not found in any supplement.