For Germany, the UK, and The Netherlands, data on adults from the most recently published national dietary intake surveys were used. For the US, data for adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2008 were used.
Results showed that, although inter-country differences exist, intakes of several vitamins are below the recommendations for a significant portion of the population (in all the countries studied). The most critical vitamin deficiency appeared to be vitamin D and the least critical was niacin (B3).
This gives added weight for ensuring that you're taking a good multivitamin on a daily basis. This doesn't mean, however, that you can slack on your diet and lifestyle. I see a multivitamin as only augmenting a healthy diet and lifestyle. It doesn't give anyone a free pass to neglect the most important aspects of health--and in fact, some previous studies have shown that multivitamins may not offer a great deal of protection from illnesses and premature death.
Why? Because of what's been called the "Superman effect" (and other names). This is a possible theory why some studies find those who take multivitamins have a higher rate of illness than those who don't. Many take a multivitamin to make up for the fact that they live unhealthy lifestyles and eat an unhealthy diet. They think taking a multivitamin protects them from the effects of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, which it won't. On the flipside, those who actually have a healthy lifestyle/diet may not feel they need to take a multivitamin, hence the paradoxical results in some studies.
A multivitamin can't undo a lifestyle conducive to sickness, and the studies are showing this (which you've probably noticed the media picks up to mean multivitamins are a waste of money...but not so, IMO).
Source: Dietary surveys indicate vitamin intakes below recommendations are common in representative Western countries
- Do You Really Need a Multivitamin?
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