The Big Mistake You're Probably Making With Your Multivitamin

Most Americans struggle to get enough vitamins and nutrients through whole foods in order to maintain optimal health, according to the USDA (via American Academy of Family Physicians). Fortunately, we may still be able to achieve our recommended daily values (DV) and bolster our nutritional intake by supplementing with a daily multivitamin. Furthermore, the long-term effects of a daily multivitamin may have protective effects against long-term health conditions such as cancer, cataracts, and other eye diseases, according to Harvard Health.

Evidence of supplementation affecting cardiovascular disease, brain health, and longevity is limited; however, strong evidence suggests nutritional supplementation taken before and during pregnancy can help prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine, according to the CDC. Given that there's low risk and low cost associated with a daily multivitamin, you may want to speak with your doctor about which works best for you, given your age, sex, health goals, and overall health status. You'll also want to avoid making one of the most common mistakes associated with multivitamin supplementation.

Avoid this painful mistake

Think taking a multivitamin is as easy as popping a pill? It is ... and it isn't. If you've ever gotten queasy after taking your multivitamin or have stopped taking it altogether because it causes unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects, you're not alone. One of the most common mistakes people make is taking their multivitamins on an empty stomach (via Cleveland Clinic).

Stomach pains, nausea, and diarrhea are more likely to occur if multivitamins are taken without food. Additionally, if you already have pre-existing gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, or ulcers, you may be particularly vulnerable and the unpleasant side effects could hit you even harder. It's also important to note that vitamins containing calcium, iron, and vitamin C are more likely to cause stomach upset, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Because supplementation only works when we actually take our vitamins, removing barriers like unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects helps ensure we maintain our healthy habits successfully over time.