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What Are Multivitamins?

In an ideal world, our bodies would get all the nutrients they need from the foods we eat, but it can be hard to stick to a perfectly balanced diet every single day. That’s where a daily multivitamin comes in to help.

Medically reviewed by Revée Barbour, MD N
March 28, 2023

What Are Multivitamins?

In an ideal world, our bodies would get all the nutrients they need from the foods we eat, but it can be hard to stick to a perfectly balanced diet every single day. That’s where a daily multivitamin comes in to help.

Medically reviewed by Revée Barbour, MD N
March 28, 2023

|          Benefits         | 

Multivitamins Are Essential for: Building blocks to good health Nourishing your body  with key vitamins and minerals A solid health foundation  at every age


Multivitamins are everywhere right now, in many different forms. From gummies to powders to packets or once daily pills, it can be confusing as to what you need and why.

On the most basic level, a multivitamin is a supplement that provides all or most of the essential nutrients your body needs every day. But how do you choose the right one for yourself or your family? Is it possible to get too much of certain nutrients? Let’s dig into the topic.

Multivitamins Are Essential for: Building blocks to good health Nourishing your body  with key vitamins and minerals A solid health foundation  at every age

Multivitamins are everywhere right now, in many different forms. From gummies to powders to packets or once daily pills, it can be confusing as to what you need and why.

On the most basic level, a multivitamin is a supplement that provides all or most of the essential nutrients your body needs every day. But how do you choose the right one for yourself or your family? Is it possible to get too much of certain nutrients? Let’s dig into the topic.

Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One

Are multivitamins beneficial?

Even if you make an effort to be conscious about what you eat, food alone may not provide all the nutrients you need. Research suggests that many Americans aren’t getting the recommended daily allowance (or RDA, outlined by the National Institutes of Health) of many vitamins and minerals. “These nutritional gaps can come at a price, potentially affecting your overall wellness and immune health”, says Revée “Dr. Ray” Barbour, a Licensed naturopathic and functional medicine doctor.

Enter multivitamins and supplements, which can be a helpful tool to bridge the gaps in your diet and support you in feeling your best. So the short answer is yes, multivitamins are beneficial. Think of a complete multivitamin as a sort of safety net—an easy, accessible way to help your body get the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One

Are multivitamins beneficial?

Even if you make an effort to be conscious about what you eat, food alone may not provide all the nutrients you need. Research suggests that many Americans aren’t getting the recommended daily allowance (or RDA, outlined by the National Institutes of Health) of many vitamins and minerals. “These nutritional gaps can come at a price, potentially affecting your overall wellness and immune health”, says Revée “Dr. Ray” Barbour, a Licensed naturopathic and functional medicine doctor.

Enter multivitamins and supplements, which can be a helpful tool to bridge the gaps in your diet and support you in feeling your best. So the short answer is yes, multivitamins are beneficial. Think of a complete multivitamin as a sort of safety net—an easy, accessible way to help your body get the vitamins and minerals it needs.

What are multivitamins good for?

The main thing vitamin supplements, including multivitamins, do is help you get sufficient amounts of certain ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and so on. In turn, these nutrients support a variety of functions in the body, and each plays a critical role in how all of your cells, tissues and organs work together to keep you healthy.

For example, you may have heard that vitamin D and calcium are essential for your bone health. And for pregnant women, a prenatal multivitamin with an adequate supply of folic acid is critical for supporting the baby’s developing brain and spinal cord during the first trimester.

A well-rounded multivitamin can also help support your immune health. The immune system is your body’s built-in defense network, with cells, tissues, and organs located throughout the body working together to help keep you healthy. White blood cells—also known as leukocytes—produce antibodies and team up with the beneficial bacteria in your gut to maintain a balanced internal environment.

Because nutrition plays a key role in how your immune system works, many experts agree - including Dr. Ray, that supporting optimal immune function begins with making sure we consume the key nutrients necessary for immune health, including:

• Vitamin A/beta carotene
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin B12
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
• Folic acid/folate
• Iron
• Selenium
• Zinc

What are multivitamins good for?

The main thing vitamin supplements, including multivitamins, do is help you get sufficient amounts of certain ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and so on. In turn, these nutrients support a variety of functions in the body, and each plays a critical role in how all of your cells, tissues and organs work together to keep you healthy.

For example, you may have heard that vitamin D and calcium are essential for your bone health. And for pregnant women, a prenatal multivitamin with an adequate supply of folic acid is critical for supporting the baby’s developing brain and spinal cord during the first trimester.

A well-rounded multivitamin can also help support your immune health. The immune system is your body’s built-in defense network, with cells, tissues, and organs located throughout the body working together to help keep you healthy. White blood cells—also known as leukocytes—produce antibodies and team up with the beneficial bacteria in your gut to maintain a balanced internal environment.

Because nutrition plays a key role in how your immune system works, many experts agree - including Dr. Ray, that supporting optimal immune function begins with making sure we consume the key nutrients necessary for immune health, including:

• Vitamin A/beta carotene
• Vitamin B6
• Vitamin B12
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
• Folic acid/folate
• Iron
• Selenium
• Zinc

Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One

Are multivitamins good for you?

“The right multivitamin will help make sure you don’t fall short on your daily requirements of various vitamins and minerals”, explains Dr Ray. And the health benefits of taking multivitamins stem from that—your bodily tissues, cells and organs get what they need to function well.

But before you start taking a multivitamin—or any dietary supplements—it’s a good idea to get medical advice from your doctor. They can let you know about any potential interactions or side effects with current medications you take, and make specific recommendations based on your needs and lifestyle.

Your doctor might also request up-to-date bloodwork to uncover any deficiencies. Whatever plan you and your doctor decide on, remember to focus on eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods.

Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One

Are multivitamins good for kids?

Yes. A quality kids multivitamin, formulated specifically for growing bodies, can help make sure little ones get the essential vitamins and minerals they need to thrive. As with adults, a multi can help bridge those nutrient gaps that happen when kids don’t get everything they need through diet alone (in other words, those picky eaters). Just remember to consult your pediatrician before starting kids or teens on any supplement.

Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One
Rainbow Light Women's One and Men's One

Are multivitamins good for you?

“The right multivitamin will help make sure you don’t fall short on your daily requirements of various vitamins and minerals”, explains Dr Ray. And the health benefits of taking multivitamins stem from that—your bodily tissues, cells and organs get what they need to function well.

But before you start taking a multivitamin—or any dietary supplements—it’s a good idea to get medical advice from your doctor. They can let you know about any potential interactions or side effects with current medications you take, and make specific recommendations based on your needs and lifestyle.

Your doctor might also request up-to-date bloodwork to uncover any deficiencies. Whatever plan you and your doctor decide on, remember to focus on eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods.

Are multivitamins good for kids?

Yes. A quality kids multivitamin, formulated specifically for growing bodies, can help make sure little ones get the essential vitamins and minerals they need to thrive. As with adults, a multi can help bridge those nutrient gaps that happen when kids don’t get everything they need through diet alone (in other words, those picky eaters). Just remember to consult your pediatrician before starting kids or teens on any supplement.

What sort of multivitamin should I take?

The supplement aisle can be a confusing place. With so many options to choose from, it’s often a challenge to figure out which multivitamin fits your unique nutritional needs, your dietary restrictions, your lifestyle and your budget. But there are a few factors and tips that can help you narrow down your options.

Variety of vitamins and minerals

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete definition for what constitutes a “multivitamin.” Supplements aren’t required to include a certain number of nutrients to get that label. Ingredient lists vary from brand to brand, but Dr. Ray recommends looking for an option that provides a spectrum of vitamins and minerals across these nutrient categories:

  • Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A (including beta carotene), D, E and K
  • Water-soluble B vitamins: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12
  • Minerals: Iron, selenium, chromium and zinc

Lifestyle and life stage

While the amount of supplements available these days is huge (and often overwhelming), that also means you’ll find options that are the right fit for your particular needs. Whether you’re over age 50 or prefer gummy vitamins to capsules, there’s bound to be a multivitamin match for you. Targeted formulas can be a smart choice for certain groups, like older adults, prenatal women or children, and meeting their particular micronutrient needs.

Ingredient sourcing

“Look for multivitamins including nutrients that come from high-quality sources, and those that meet your own values.” That might mean that you look for ingredients that are, like many Rainbow Light supplements, non-GMO, Certified C.L.E.A.N. and Certified R.A.W.
Bioavailability, or how much of a particular nutrient the body can readily absorb, is also a factor. Our bodies have an easier time digesting and making use of some nutrients, and vitamins and minerals in certain forms, than others.

Fewer additives

What’s not included in your multivitamin matters, too. Some less-than-desirable additives you may want to avoid:

• Artificial colors
• Artificial flavors
• Artificial sweeteners, e.g. high-fructose corn syrup
• Industrial agents, e.g. silicon dioxide, carnauba wax

What sort of multivitamin should I take?

The supplement aisle can be a confusing place. With so many options to choose from, it’s often a challenge to figure out which multivitamin fits your unique nutritional needs, your dietary restrictions, your lifestyle and your budget. But there are a few factors and tips that can help you narrow down your options.

Variety of vitamins and minerals

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete definition for what constitutes a “multivitamin.” Supplements aren’t required to include a certain number of nutrients to get that label. Ingredient lists vary from brand to brand, but Dr. Ray recommends looking for an option that provides a spectrum of vitamins and minerals across these nutrient categories:

  • Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A (including beta carotene), D, E and K
  • Water-soluble B vitamins: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin B12
  • Minerals: Iron, selenium, chromium and zinc

Ingredient sourcing

“Look for multivitamins including nutrients that come from high-quality sources, and those that meet your own values.” That might mean that you look for ingredients that are, like many Rainbow Light supplements, non-GMO, Certified C.L.E.A.N. and Certified R.A.W. Bioavailability, or how much of a particular nutrient the body can readily absorb, is also a factor. Our bodies have an easier time digesting and making use of some nutrients, and vitamins and minerals in certain forms, than others.

Lifestyle and life stage

While the amount of supplements available these days is huge (and often overwhelming), that also means you’ll find options that are the right fit for your particular needs. Whether you’re over age 50 or prefer gummy vitamins to capsules, there’s bound to be a multivitamin match for you. Targeted formulas can be a smart choice for certain groups, like older adults, prenatal women or children, and meeting their particular micronutrient needs.

Fewer additives

What’s not included in your multivitamin matters, too. Some less-than-desirable additives you may want to avoid:

• Artificial colors
• Artificial flavors
• Artificial sweeteners, e.g. high-fructose corn syrup
• Industrial agents, e.g. silicon dioxide, carnauba wax

Revée Barbour, ND MS, better known as Dr. Ray is a licensed naturopathic and functional medicine doctor with nearly ten years of experience in direct primary care and integrative medicine research. Dr. Ray is the sole owner of her telemedicine clinic called A Dose of Vitamin Ray, located in Manchester, NH. In recent years, she has garnered recognition from highly respected publications such as Forbes Health, MindBodyGreen, US News & World Report, and Sacramento Magazine. Her professional knowledge and expertise include holistic nutritional therapy, lifestyle medicine, nutraceuticals, herbal medicine, energy-work, indigenous healing practices, and many other tools for employing a natural self-healing approach with her patients and students.

Sources
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21865568/
https://www.rainbowlight.com/blog/how-do-multivitamin-supplements-support-immune-health/
https://www.rainbowlight.com/blog/nutrient-deficient-find-out/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3911266/
https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/multivitamin-mineral-supplements#micronutrient-inadequacies

Revée Barbour, ND MS, better known as Dr. Ray is a licensed naturopathic and functional medicine doctor with nearly ten years of experience in direct primary care and integrative medicine research. Dr. Ray is the sole owner of her telemedicine clinic called A Dose of Vitamin Ray, located in Manchester, NH. In recent years, she has garnered recognition from highly respected publications such as Forbes Health, MindBodyGreen, US News & World Report, and Sacramento Magazine. Her professional knowledge and expertise include holistic nutritional therapy, lifestyle medicine, nutraceuticals, herbal medicine, energy-work, indigenous healing practices, and many other tools for employing a natural self-healing approach with her patients and students.

Sources
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21865568/
https://www.rainbowlight.com/blog/how-do-multivitamin-supplements-support-immune-health/
https://www.rainbowlight.com/blog/nutrient-deficient-find-out/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3911266/
https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/multivitamin-mineral-supplements#micronutrient-inadequacies