If you’re following The Pescetarian Plan pretty faithfully, you probably don’t need a multivitamin/mineral tablet. The diet is so nutrient-rich, that other than vitamin D, you’re probably getting close to RDA levels of vitamins and minerals. (RDAs are the “Recommended Dietary Allowances” for vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids for your age and gender, set by the Institute of Medicine.) It’s not clear whether a multi can make you healthier—studies are mixed, most show that multi-users are healthier, but it could be that multi-users tend to have healthier lifestyles.
That said, there are some circumstances in which a multi is helpful or even necessary:
- If you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Then you must take a pre-natal supplement. You—and your fetus—need the extra nutrients, particularly the folic acid, which helps prevent certain types of birth defects.
- If you tend to be anemic. There are different types of anemia, some are caused by low iron levels, others by low levels of folic acid or B12. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether a multi—or a single nutrient supplement, like iron—is best to combat this.
- If you’re consuming fewer than 1,800 calories per day. If you’re on the 1,500-calorie Pescetarian Portion Plan, you probably should supplement. I say “probably” because you’re still getting an ultra-nutritious diet. But still, it’s hard to meet 100 percent your RDAs for all nutrients when you dip under 1,800 calories. So my advice: take a multi every other day.
- If you’re age 55 or older. At some point in your 50s, 60s or later, your production of stomach acid might decline. Because you need it to absorb vitamin B12, low acid production can leave you low in this vitamin—and that’s serious. A B12 deficiency can eventually cause permanent neurological damage.
You can find out your B12 status by getting your blood tested. In any case, there’s no harm in taking 417 percent (25 mcg) to 833 percent the daily value, which is 50 mcg (micrograms). You can get this amount through an “adult” (a euphemism for “over-50”) multi or a single B12 tablet.
Think you need a multi? Find the one for you by reading Buy a Good Multi.