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This great guest post was written by Dr. Serena Goldstein, a naturopathic doctor specializing in natural hormone balance! I encourage you to go check out her website!

Sometimes it seems impossible to eat the amount of food necessary to get all the nutrients we need… in a single day. The average person is definitely aware of this struggle and so is the supplement market, who aim to give us some much-needed convenience.

The supplement market offers a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other natural based substances geared towards many conditions, or sometimes just overall health. Some almost taste as good as candy and others, not so much. Ultimately, multivitamins are touted to ensure we get all our nutrients and perhaps more, as its long list of ingredients may address a wide variety of conditions.

However, where pills can be difficult to swallow or easily forgotten, food-based recipes that act like a multivitamin may improve compliance. So yes, you very well might be able to meet your daily nutrient goals in a nice homemade meal!

How Multivitamins Can Fit Into Your Life

Multivitamins help us achieve our recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. They becoming more necessary as poor soil quality, caffeine, stress, certain pharmaceuticals, and alcohol continue to deplete your nutrient levels. On the other hand, certain lifestyle choices can also hinder your ability to receive adequate requirements.

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Vegans and vegetarians, for example, commonly face iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, two necessities that you usually find in meat and dairy products. Doctors always advise pregnant women to keep their folate levels up to prevent birth defects. People on a low-fat diet often face vitamin A and E deficiencies. Lastly, at least for much of North America, more and more studies are mounting that urge people to supplement with vitamin D because not enough is found in food. (Even living on the equator is not a guarantee for optimal levels.)

Nutrition is a large part of our health outcome, and supplements are meant to supplement – not replace – poor choices. Synthetic supplements, however, are extracted ingredients and turned into various forms. Some better than others and may contain various fillers like sugars or harmful food dyes. A whole nutrient or food is created in such a way that all ingredients work together in unison, a phenomenon that no laboratory could ever replace.

3 Homemade Multivitamin Recipes

Below are recipes of various forms that are general enough to address many health concerns, and can be used as a ‘homemade multivitamin’ of sorts!

Bone Broth

Bone broth helps repair connective tissues, especially in our gastrointestinal tract, joints, lungs, skin, muscles, and blood. Bones are nutrient dense and contain common vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. It is also a rich source of nutrients that are not found in a lot of foods, such as:

  • Cartilage (functions as shock absorber; stimulates immune system)

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  • Collagen (helps hold the body together)

  • Gelatin (important for many conditions, helps protect against mucosal damage)

  • Glycine (amino acid; important for blood synthesis and periods of fasting)

  • Proline (amino acid; may benefit memory and prevent depression, and imperative for structure of collagen)

  • Glycosaminoglycans (also create a gel, and provide a proper foundation to cartilage)

  • Hyaluronic acid (slippery substance to help lubricate joints and assist in wound healing)

  • Chondroitin sulfate (used as an osteoarthritis supplement)

  • Sulfur (important for connective tissues, energy production, and detoxification)

  • Fluoride (stimulate and strengthen bone)

Bone broth can be consumed like a tea or a soup. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, you could add vegetables or other ingredients and eat to start your day or throughout. Unlike a soup, the broth must be made first. A crockpot is the easiest way to make bone broth.

Bones (and remnants if you like) from poultry, fish, shellfish, beef, or lamb are placed in the pot, then add cold water so it’s just over the bones, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (e.g. apple cider) or lemon juice to 1 quart water or 2 pounds bones, and let simmer for about 2-3 days (or can be as little as 6-12 hours, though the longer the better).[4]

Smoothie

Smoothies keep fiber intact, whereas juices do not. Fiber is extremely beneficial for issues such as digestive health, heart health, and weight management. These ingredients not only provide a wide range of nutrients, but additional important health-boosters like fats, fiber, and protein. Simply blend them all together and enjoy!

  • Handful of organic mixed greens (high in vitamins A, B’s, and C, as well as fiber and iron)

  • 1/4 cup organic blueberries (rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and K, and fiber, and also helps balance blood sugar)

  • 2 TBSP hemp powder (high in omega 3, 6, and gamma-linolenic acid, as well as protein rich)

  • 2 stalks celery (high in vitamin A and K, coumarins as antioxidant)

  • 1-2 TBSP ground flaxseeds (contain omega 3 fatty acids, lignans have weak estrogen-like and antioxidant properties, rich in minerals, high in insoluble and soluble fiber)

  • 1-2 TBSP almond butter (perfect blend of fats, carbohydrates, and protein, also contain fiber)

  • 1 tsp spirulina (high antioxidant properties, rich in B vitamins and iron, and contains all essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein)

Tea- Infusion

Let these extremely nutritious herbs steep in hot water for about 10 to 20 minutes. Sip to your heart’s (and your whole body’s) content.

  • 3-6 grams of dried Astragalus root (great for heart health, immune function, anti-cancer, and fatigue, it’s an all around nutritive herb that has a good safety index. Shown to boost production of telomerase, which can help prevent loss of telomeres on DNA, which inhibits the aging process of cells) [1]

  • 2-3 TBSP of Nettle leaves or plant (contains constituents like vitamin C, carotene, beta-sitosterol, and flavonoids like quercitin and rutin, all of which can provide benefit to every organ system, and a great herb for all around general health [3]

So, Do Multivitamins Work and Should You Use One?

Research is fairly mixed across the board when it comes to multivitamin benefits. While it may benefit a wide variety of conditions, results also depend on the actual dosage and condition you’re trying to fix.[2] However, it may be best to work with a knowledgeable health professional in maximizing various nutrients for specific concerns, who also understands potential herb, drug, and nutrient interactions.

Natural medicine remedies have become exponentially popular among both health professionals and consumers in recent years. This is largely because many people’s interest has shifted from palliation (or ‘taking a pill for life’) to healthier, more strategic ways to discern why disease is actually present.

So, even though a multivitamin can be useful, it isn’t always the best option. Everyone’s bodies are different, don’t always present health problems the same way, and react  uniquely. As a result, a general ‘cure-all’ won’t always accommodate your individualized, physiological need.

Relying on either supplements or whole foods may be possible, but isn’t necessarily the wisest option. Your best bet would be to consider a variety of whole foods in addition to these recipes to help enhance the amount of nutrients present that won’t only benefit present conditions, but be preventative, too!

Bibliography

  1. English, J. (2013). Research supports anti-aging benefits of ‘elite class’ of tonic herbs. Nutrition Review.https://nutritionreview.org/2013/09/research-supports-antiaging-benefits-elite-class-tonic-herbs/

2. Huang, H. Y., Caballero, B., Chang, S., Alberg, A. J., Semba, R. D., Schneyer, C., … & Vassy, J. (2007). Multivitamin/mineral supplements and prevention of chronic disease: executive summary. The American journal of clinical nutrition85(1), 265S-268S. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/1/265S.long

3. Rodriguez-Fragoso, L., Reyes-Esparza, J., Burchiel, S. W., Herrera-Ruiz, D., & Torres, E. (2008). Risks and benefits of commonly used herbal medicines in Mexico. Toxicology and applied pharmacology227(1):125-135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2322858/

4. Siebecker, A. (2004). Traditional bone broth in modern health and disease. NCNM. https://www.consultantnutritionist.com/General-Health-Nutrition/Traditional-Bone-Broth-in-Modern-Health-and-Disease.html

Image Sources:

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Dr. Serena Goldstein
Health Expert
Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in NYC specializing in natural hormonal balance utilizing nutrition, botanical medicine, and homeopathy to discover the underlying cause of disease. She graduated Cum Laude, double majored in Psychology and Biology from Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, and received her Naturopathic Doctorate from National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in well-known health and wellness resources, and collaborates with other professionals for informational lectures, and patient care. Dr. Serena is in her own practice, and lends her expertise to fellow doctors at NYU-Hospital Poison Control Center.