Food first, supplements second. That’s my motto. Unless you’re deficient in certain vitamins, pregnant, or over the age of 50, then you really don’t need a multi-vitamin.
Whether I am dealing with clients or interacting with people at the gym, it seems as though everyone is supplementing with multi-vitamins. They’re accessible, cheap and an easy way out of eating fruits and vegetables.
You’ll be surprised at how easily you can achieve your daily-recommended intake of vitamins and minerals through manipulating your diet. By consuming 6-8 servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day, you’ll be in the clear and find no need to supplement with a multi-vitamin. A single serving is equivalent to one piece of fruit or vegetable.
Not only is it important to include fruits and/or vegetables within each meal, but also vary the types you eat. Eat a rainbow, as I like to tell everyone. This will help you absorb the different nutrients found within each type of fruits and vegetables and adopt more of a ‘complete’ diet.
Now, I may contradict myself by saying this, but regardless of whether or not you fit the criteria of supplementing with multi-vitamins, you MAY supplement under two scenarios: periods of high-intensity exercise or winter.
These two scenarios are presumptive, which is why I refer to this strategy as supplement periodization – altering your supplement intake according to the demands of your training or periods during the year. It’s kind of similar to carb-cycling, manipulating your carbohydrates intake according to the intensity of your exercise session. Here, you’re manipulating your multi-vitamin supplementation in accordance with two scenarios that cause a weakened immune system.
Indeed, we’re most susceptible to illnesses following intense and frequent exercise, as well as during the winter season. That said, supplementing with a multi-vitamin for a period of 1-2 months may serve as a plausible strategy to boost your immune system and allow you to continually exercise.
As I’ve alluded to in other posts, eat healthily but also eat smart. The same goes for supplements – use the right products during the right times and be smart when using them. Before even thinking about supplementation, correct your diet first by including nutrient-dense foods within your diet. Believe me, you’ll gain more from eating whole fruits and vegetables than relying on multi-vitamins.
Remember, food first and supplements second.