A couple of months ago, a notorious medical journal established by the American College of Physicians back in the 1920's published a report entitled "Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements". Before we go any further, let me start by mentioning that 9/10 reports lambasting the use of dietary supplements have emerged from the annals of this nefarious journal over the past years. This attitude is so common and consistent that one might start to believe the medical community might have a hate-on for anything that isn't a pharmaceutical drug. Ha..I jest. We get all of our vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet right?  A 2012 survey from the Canadian government begs to differ.

While I could write several essays (and I have), on this subject of near endless discussion, allow me to deflate the magnitude of this cherry-picked data with a few simple facts from our conservatively utilitarian friends over at Health Canada. I won't insist that Health Canada is the be-all-end-all of nutrition; as they certainly aren't, but I think it's fair to say they are as unbiased as we can hope given they don't have any obvious financial incentive that would exist to a greater degree than either the "alternative" or "conventional" medical industries. Furthermore, they are primarily interested in minimum adequate intakes to prevent disease, certainly nothing along the lines of "nutritional therapy." But first, let's talk a little about "multivitamins" to help flesh out a better understanding.

A multivitamin is a dietary supplement that contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. I use the word "essential" because that is the very definition of these nutrients - your body cannot make them and thus requires you to consume them from your diet to maintain optimal body functions. Without getting off topic, allow me state that multivitamins range from the abysmally useless to marvelously overkill and everything in between. Indeed, it is impossible to lump "multivitamins" into one big category and then run a study on it.

Now, on to Health Canada. A 2012 report by Health Canada called the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) entitled "Do Canadian Adults Meet Their Nutrient Requirements Through Food Intake Alone?" found that up to 35% of Canadian aged 19 and over had inadequate intakes of vitamin B12, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, and zinc, with more than 35% facing inadequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium. The reports used estimated average requirements (EAR) values which are defined as "the average daily nutrient intake that is estimated to meet the requirements of half of the healthy individuals"; not exactly what you'd call a "high standard".  

So here we have Health Canada reporting that nearly 1/3 of Canadians are deficient in 9 essential nutrients the are necessary for proper immune function, cell division, bone health, and metabolism. 1/3 of Canadians who consume a diet so deficient in nutrition that their health might be compromised in dozens of areas that will inevitably lead to disease.

If only there were some sort of pill that one could take to alleviate this conundrum. We could call it a "multivitamin".