Why Take A Multi-Nutrient Supplement?

30 million adults now take food supplements every week, 45% of these on a daily basis with multivitamins being the most commonly taken food supplement.[1] Whether these are taken for health purposes or merely as an insurance policy to protect against the detrimental effects of a poor diet and hectic lifestyle, knowing whether to take a multivitamin and which one is an important question.

Headlines seem to appear with alarming regulatory over the age-old question of whether taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement will promote better health and prevent disease. Some articles support these benefits whilst others purport that vitamin and mineral supplements are simply a waste of money producing nothing more than expensive urine! [2] So, whom do we believe and how do we ensure we are selecting the right product if the health support research for food supplements really stacks up?

Expensive urine?

Victor Herbert, the outspoken Harvard nutrition scientist, was quoted by the United States well-read Time magazine in a famous 1992 cover story about nutrition as saying that vitamins just gave you “expensive urine.”

This one-liner has acted as a simple rebuke to the consumption of additional nutrients as food supplements – or at least the water-soluble ones. It is repeated by the medical community wedded to the model that a ‘balanced diet’ will supply all we require, and by the sceptics who seek an easy one-liner to dismiss thousands of research papers that contradict this simplistic and invalid statement.

Whilst the consumption of healthy, nutrient-dense food is an absolute requirement of health, there are many incidences where this may not be enough; from poor food choice to unique gene-related requirements. As scientific research has moved forward in the last two decades so has the understanding of the value of additional nutrients in a dose beyond the minimum required to avoid gross nutrient deficient diseases.

So is it important to take multi-nutrient formulations? The answer may well be a resounding YES!

In the summer of 2002, Harvard Medical School scientists, Dr’s Kathleen Fairfield and Robert Fletcher, reviewed the data and concluded that all North Americans should be taking a multi-nutrient supplement as a preventative measure.[3] They published their findings and the recommendation to take a multi-nutrient supplement in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. No such study has been conducted in the UK but eating patterns and lifestyles are very similar.

They concluded:

Some groups of patients are at higher risk for vitamin deficiency and suboptimal vitamin status. Many physicians may be unaware of common food sources of vitamins or unsure which vitamins they should recommend for their patients. Vitamin excess is possible with supplementation, particularly for fat-soluble vitamins. Inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.”

This report followed a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that also suggests the relatively low cost of regular multi-nutrient supplement consumption is a valuable preventative health measure.[4] In another recent survey looking at lifestyle strategies employed by the medical profession, 72% of physicians and 89% of nurses questioned used dietary supplements regularly, occasionally, or seasonally.[5]

Diet vs. Nutrients: Why your diet doesn’t supply enough micronutrients

Those who discard the multi-nutrient supplement advice often point to the availability of the required vitamins and minerals in a diet containing a large variety of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. This is fundamentally true but ignores the reality that many Britons and Europeans do not consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.[6] Add in regular “anti-health” activities for many people including drinking, smoking, eating processed foods containing high levels of refined carbohydrates, preservatives and food additives, excessive exposure to UV radiation and taking regular medicines that can deplete micronutrients, it can quickly be understood how nutrient deficiencies can develop.

In addition, the “diet contains all the nutrients we need” mantra does not address the recent research indicating a declining nutrient content of products in international farming practice and especially in the UK as described in the Composition of Foods by McCance and Widdowson. The increased demand for food and the growing populations’ reduction of arable land has resulted in overuse of soils. The consequence of this has been a substantial loss of overall food quality. Studies conducted by the United States government, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory have demonstrated a decline of up to 50% in many minerals, vitamins and other nutrients sourced from fruits and vegetables over the last 100 years.[7] 

The UK has also noticed similar depletion levels in its standard foods. A report published by the Food Commission found that since 1940 UK foods; fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products have lost substantial mineral concentrations. They concluded that if you are eating the same key foods today as those eaten in 1940 you are consuming between 10% and 70% less essential minerals with each meal.[8] There are also extensive differences in the antioxidant qualities of differing foods (and supplements) and an incorrect selection will diminish their health value.[9]

So maybe we should be taking a multi-nutrient supplement after all, to make up for our dietary shortfalls?

Do multi-nutrient supplements really form effective triage?

A more contemporary view of micro-nutrient supplementation has been proposed by Dr Bruce Ames, one of the world’s most quoted and published scientists. He argues that the body operates on a short-term view only using a ‘triage approach’ to essential utilisation.[10]

Triage comes from the French word ‘trier’ meaning to sort, separate, or select – it’s a word often used in A&E and battlefield situations when doctors prioritise treatments depending on the probable survival of the wounded. On a more fundamental level “triage” literally describes how it’s all about living for today. If we understand that Nature favours survival today over tomorrow, a theory that vitamin inadequacy is behind the rise in chronic diseases “makes sense… and it is almost certainly going to be right,” says Dr Bruce Ames.

By appreciating that natural selection favours short-term survival over the long-term, Prof Ames’ hypothesised that our short-term survival is achieved by prioritising the allocation of scarce micro-nutrients. In other words, to stop us from falling over from a lack of iron in the heart, for example, iron is pulled from non-essential sources within the body.

The triage theory is, therefore, a way of measuring the insidious damage in our bodies over time and offers a unifying framework explaining why a crop of diseases associated with ageing is emerging for so many micro-nutrients.[11] Indeed, poor nutrition has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The human diet requires both macro-nutrients, which are the main source of calories, and micro-nutrients (40 essential minerals, vitamins, and other biochemicals), which are required for virtually all metabolic and developmental processes. The leading dietary sources of energy in the Western world are abundant in carbohydrates and fats[12] but deficient in micro-nutrients (i.e., they are energy-dense and nutrient-poor).[13]

At Nutrigold, we believe that excluding valuable high-quality micro-nutrients through a personalised supplement programme for the potential perception of useless daily excretion may yet prove to be the worst long-term health advice ever given!

Consuming a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement as an addition to your sound dietary choices will decrease your risk of developing a nutrient-insufficiency condition, which may take years off your life and life off those remaining years.

What to look for in a multi-nutrient?

There are certain groups that should definitely be supplementing their diet with vitamins and minerals. These include: 

  • The elderly: Vitamin B12 absorption decreases with age, and elderly people may also need higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Vegans and vegetarians: These people are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency since this vitamin is only found in animal foods. They may also be lacking in calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should talk to their doctor about this. Some nutrients are needed, while others (like vitamin A) can cause birth defects in large amounts.

But as you’ve now read, there is a case for many people to consider taking a multi-nutrient to support their health.

Within a multi-nutrient formulation there is normally a range of vitamins and minerals to support different areas of health:

B Vitamins – contribute to the normal function of the immune system, nervous system, energy production and reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Vitamin C – contributes to the normal function of the immune system and energy production; normal function of the nervous system and protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Vitamin E – contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Vitamin K – contributes to normal blood clotting, maintenance of normal skin, bones, red blood cells and vision; reduction of tiredness and fatigue and protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Biotin – contributes to the normal function of the immune system and energy production; normal psychological function and maintenance of normal hair, skin and mucous membranes.

Choline – contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism; normal lipid metabolism and maintenance of normal liver function.

Chromium – contributes to normal blood glucose levels.

Iodine – contributes to normal cognitive and nervous system function and energy production.

Iron – contributes to normal cognitive function and energy production; normal function of the immune system and reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Magnesium – contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Selenium – contributes to the normal function of the immune system, normal thyroid function and protection of cells from oxidative stress.

Zinc – contributes to normal cognitive function, bone, nails, skin and hair, as well as fertility and protection of cells from oxidative stress.

However, not all forms of supplementary nutrients are the same and this can impact the fundamentals from absorption to availability for the body to utilise (i.e. bioavailability).

Here’s our Nutrigold guide to understanding the bioactive forms of supplementary nutrients so you can get the best performance from the nutrients you take to support your diet:

Organic citrate (Citrizorb®) minerals are found in all relevant Nutrigold formulation including Magnesium, Zinc and Manganese Citrizorb® – citrate minerals have been shown to have greater bioavailability compared to inorganic carbonate or oxide mineral forms.

Pyridoxine-5-Phosphate (P5P) – the bioactive coenzyme form of Vitamin B6, which can be directly utilised by the body without conversion.

Quatrefolic® – a specific, clinically validated form of reduced and methylated folate. Folic acid and food folate are not biologically active and need to be converted to the metabolically active form of folate (5-MTHF) in the body. Some individuals, due to their unique genetic patterns and expression (i.e. polymorphisms), do not produce adequate or effective folate converting enzymes (Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase – MTHFR). Quatrefolic® passes the gastric barrier and is absorbed in the gut in to support levels of bioactive folate including in those individuals who have the MTHFR polymorphism, which is implicated in certain chronic disease states.

Methylcobalamin – a naturally occurring form of Vitamin B12 that is better absorbed and retained in the tissues compared to synthetic cyanocobalamin.

Mena Q7® – a clinically validated form of Vitamin K2 as Menaquinone-7 (MK-7). Vitamin K2 is better absorbed than Vitamin K1. The structure of MK-7 also allows this form to remain in the blood longer than Vitamin K1, increasing its bioavailability.

Vitamin D3 Cholecalciferol is the form of Vitamin D3 that is utilised by the body. Many Vitamin D3 products and Vitamin D3 dietary sources are derived from animal sources so are not suitable for vegans or acceptable for some vegetarians. Vegan Vitamin D3 products contain cholecalciferol from special, organic lichen, which are a small and unique plant species with many attributes including the ability to photosynthesise, survive in extreme climates and have the ability to grow and accumulate meaningful levels of useful nutrients, including Vitamin D3. 

We are proud at Nutrigold to have such a complete range of multi-nutrient formulations all containing the bioactive forms of nutrients to suit your body’s requirements and your wallet!

You will find all of these bioactive nutrients in each Nutrigold multi formulation including:

But it’s not just multi-nutrient formulations that we take care to ensure are in the most bioactive forms. You will find all Nutrigold products are carefully selected based on their raw ingredient quality, bioactivity and bioavailability including:

Whole leaf Aloe Vera juice rich in bioactive polysaccharides

Raw organic CBD oil with a complete spectrum of phytocannabinoids but <0.05% THC making this product safe and legal to use and recommend.

Liposomal Vitamin C delivering this important nutrient in a unique liquid delivery system increasing absorption and plasma levels in the body.

KSM-66 strain of Ashwagandha – the most scientifically studied and clinically researched form of this concentrated bioactive herb.

To find out more about our products please enjoy the blogs listed below.

For any more information about Nutrigold multi-nutrient formulations and choosing the right multi-nutrient formulation for you then please ring the Nutrigold technical line on 0333 577 5675.

Related blogs:

Guide to Vegan D3 Supplements
Vitamin C – It’s Not Just For Pirates!
The Truth About B12 Deficiency – Are Vegans At Risk?
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
Improving Nutrigold Formulations
Get on your A-game with Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha KSM-66Do Alkaline Diets Really Work?
How to source and dose the best quality CBD oil
Antioxidants work at different speeds
Simply Magnesium Part 2: Bioavailability & Supplementation
Nutritional Support For Joint and Bone Health

Nutrigold Education Articles

Nutritional Support for the Menopause

Preventing Osteoporosis

Aloe Vera


[1] www.hfma.co.uk

[2] https://nutrigold.co.uk/our-story

[3] Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. JAMA. 2002 Jun 19;287(23):3116-26. View Abstract

[4] Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Clinical practice. What vitamins should I be taking, doctor? N Engl J Med. 2001 Dec 20;345(25):1819-24. View Abstract

[5] Dickinson A, Boyon N, Shao A. Physicians and nurses use and recommend dietary supplements: report of a survey. Nutr J. 2009 Jul 1;8:29. View Abstract

[6] Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A, Mindell J. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer, and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health Published Online First: [31 March 2014]

[7] US Dept of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Nutrient Database for standard reference, Release 13.

[8] Meat and Dairy: Where have all our minerals gone?

[9] Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, Bohn SK, Dragland S, Sampson L, Willey C,Senoo H, Umezono Y, Sanada C, Barikmo IE, Berhe N, Willett WC, Phillips KM, Jacobs DR Jr, Blomhoff R. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs supplements used worldwide. Nutr J. 2010 Jan 22;9(1):3. [Epub ahead of print] View Abstract

[10] Ames BN Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of ageing through allocation of scarce micronutrients by triage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Nov 21;103(47):17589-94. View Full Paper

[11] McCann JC, Ames BN Vitamin K, an example of triage theory: is micronutrient inadequacy linked to diseases of ageing?J Clin Nutr. 2009 Oct;90(4):889-907. View Abstract

[12] Block G(2004) J Food Composition Anal 17:439–447.View Data

[13] Kant AK. Consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods by adult Americans: nutritional and health implications. The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994.Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Oct;72(4):929-36. View Abstract

Written By:
Elisabeth Philipps

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