The Quest for the PERFECT MULTIVITAMIN

I am on a mission. I have been looking for the perfect multivitamin for some time now, and I think I may have found it. Many people assume that all multivitamins are built that same, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Some are completely ineffective, or potentially harmful to your health. The purpose of this post is multifaceted, in that I want to answer several questions to the best of my research abilities: What is a multivitamin, and why should I take one? What should be in my multivitamin (aka: what vitamins/ minerals are necessary for my daily health)? What should I consider when choosing a multi-vitamin? What other supplements are important to use on a regular basis?

What is a multivitamin, and why should I take one?
A multivitamin is a pill, tablet, liquid or even an injectable supplement which contains several vitamins, dietary minerals, and potentially other nutritional elements that the body needs to function appropriately throughout the day. It typically supplements a human food diet, especially for those who are not fully aware of what they are consuming (as in, keeping track of their vitamin intake solely from food throughout the day). Many multivitamins are labeled for the specific consumer: pregnant, child, adult (men and women), 50+, etc. Many follow along with RDA (recommended dietary allowance) specifications, although some are considered 'high potency', which often means there is an increased amount of vitamin C or B. It wasn't until the 1930's that multivitamins were available in stores, over-the-counter. The first multivitamins were made from dried fruits and vegetables, but since then many are filled with synthetic sources. Multivitamins on the market today typically contain 10 minerals and 10 vitamins to supplement your daily diet

There are many reasons why the right multivitamin should be taken on a daily basis. For those who do not regularly eat a healthy diet, a multivitamin can be a valuable tool for balancing the bodies nutritional needs. Although food is always the best place to start for the necessary vitamins and minerals that the body needs, most people are unwilling to do the work that a vitamin can. Furthermore, those who are on restrictive diets, or who are suffering from some type of ailment may have different nutritional needs that is easier to support through a multivitamin. Either way, many experts agree that taking a multivitamin is one of the most important things you can do for your body. It is not just because it provides the body with what it needs on a day to day basis, but it is also a preventative for diseases sourced from lack of nutrition. Moreoften than not, the typical diet does not provide the necessary nutrients that the body needs in order to be healthy. A multivitamin provides a 'safety net', not totally making up for bad eating habits, but shadowing the negative effects this can have on overall health (which are numerous). This is not to say that any multivitamin is good, in fact, some of them may be worse for your health (as will be discussed below).


What should be in my multivitamin (aka: what vitamins/ minerals are necessary for my daily health)?
There are many debates concerning what should be in a multivitamin. One look at the nutritional information on the back of a multivitamin bottle, and you will see that no two brands are alike. There are many reasons for this, one being that not every person is built the same. For example, decades of research on human nutrition have led many researchers and health-care professionals to conclude that a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not address the increased need for certain nutrients by certain groups, such as calcium for children, vitamin C for smokers, or vitamin D for seniors. Most basic multivitamins, however, carry 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for various vitamins and minerals. They are as follows (click on the types of vitamins/ minerals for more information): 

Vitamins:
Folic acid (400 mcg) 
Iodine (150 mcg) 
Vitamin A (5,000 IU)
B Vitamins:
Biotin (300 mcg), Pyridoxine (B6; 10 mg), Pantothenic acid (B5; 10 mg), Vitamin B12 (5–100 mcg), thiamine (B1; 1.5 mg), riboflavin (B2; 1.7 mg), and niacin (B3; 20 mg)
Vitamin C (100–200 mg) 
Vitamin D (400–800 IU) 
Vitamin E (30–400 IU) 
Vitamin K (80 mcg)

Minerals:
Calcium (800–1,000 mg) 
Chromium (120–200 mcg) 
Copper (1–3 mg)
Iron (Recommendations should be determined by a doctor) 
Magnesium (250–400 mg) 
Manganese (2–5 mg)
Molybdenum (75 mcg) 
Selenium (50–200 mcg) 
Zinc (10–25 mg)

Other:
Phosphorus 
Potassium 
Flavonoids (as well as choline, inositol, and various amino acids

The greatest concern, however, is that the RDA is based on the 'general' public, from child to adult. This leaves many of the decisions in the hands of the companies, which is why no two multivitamins are the same. This isn't to say that finding the right multivitamin is a doomed task. Many companies take this into consideration when creating a multivitamin suitable for different age ranges, and people. Also, there is still the question of whether or not you are getting enough of these vitamins already. So, what are the risks of taking too many vitamins? Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. There are many negative side effects to taking too much of certain vitamins. For example, too much Vitamin C can lead to diarreah, cramping, Vitamin A could cause liver damage, Calcium could lead to kidney stones, and Iron can interfere with the absorption of zinc and other vitamins, which could effect the immune system. So, it is important that you are aware of what you are consuming, and which supplements you are taking on top of that.

What should I consider when choosing a multi-vitamin? 
First and foremost, since all multivitamins are not the same, there are several things you should consider before choosing a brand: 
 • Your diet (Is it healthy? What might you be missing? What might you need more of?)
• Deficiencies* (Are their any current health concerns, big or small, that might be vitamin/ mineral related?)
• Pregnancy, Age, etc.
• Medical conditions (which may be positively, or negatively effected by a vitamin/ mineral routine)
• Harms or risks (for example beta-carotene in smokers) 


Many people are at risk for deficiencies, which may effect their choice in regards to what vitamins/ minerals to take:

  • People who have lost weight may be deficient in a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
  • Vegetarians are at risk to become low in protein, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D, zinc, iodine, riboflavin, calcium, and selenium.
  • Vegans need the same nutrients as vegetarians, but vegans are more likely than lacto-ovo (dairy-and-egg eating) vegetarians to be low in protein, selenium, and B12.
  • People eating macrobiotic diet: Deficiencies of vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D and other nutrients have occurred. This diet should be supervised by a dietitian or doctor.
  • Elderly people living in their own homes are often deficient in vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, and zinc, and occasionally of vitamin B1 and vitamin B2.
  • Premenopausal women have been found often to consume low amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
After you have decided which categories you fall into, then you can make better decision about which brand to choose (keeping in mind that as the body ages and changes, so to the vitamin should). Your best bet is to chose brands that carry seals from various consumer geared companies: United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), NSF International (NSF), or ConsumerLab.com (CL) seals. The USP and NSF are nonprofit groups that verify whether companies offer contamination-free products and use good manufacturing practices. Not every brand has the seals, but those that do (Kirkland and Nature Made carry the USP seal, for instance) are reliable. Many of the more mainstream brands (such as Centrum, and One-A-Day) do carry the seal, and are relatively easy to find. This isn't to say that all companies who do not provide this seal are corrupt, but it is to say that you must be a conscious consumer who makes the right choices based on personal knowledge. There are also many types of multivitamins on the market, which boast different formulas. For example:


Low-potency/one-a-day multiples: These mixtures often contain 100% of the vitamins and minerals many people require, though not enough to make up for deficiencies or other therapeutic amounts. For example, people eating a Western diet may be deficient in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which one-a-days may not help correct. 
• High-potency multiples: These mixtures may provide higher amounts of desired nutrients sometimes designed to support particular health goals, such as heart health. To evenly distribute nutrition to the body, these are sometimes optimally taken two to six times per day in divided doses.
• Timed-release: Theoretically, releasing vitamins and minerals slowly into the body over a period of time is better than releasing them all at once. However, except for some studies showing better absorption of time-released vitamin C, this assumption has not been well studied and some concerns have been raised about the safety of the chemical agents used to cause the timed-release.
• Vegetarian: Most capsules are made from animal gelatin, so vegetarians need to carefully read supplement labels to ensure they are getting a vegetarian product.
  
Some great websites to help you research are the following:

"Office of Dietary Supplements"

"Consumer Lab" 

"Consumer Search" 

Just for some more inspirationhere are some videos I pulled off of youtube that discuss multivitamins (including Dr. Oz):



 
What about Vegans?
Many vitamins that can be purchased in store are NOT suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The reason for this is mainly due to the packaging. Many capsules are coated with gelatin (which can come from numerous animal sources), as well as the vitamins themselves (such as calcium which can come from animal bone). It is important for your to be aware of which brand you are choosing, and whether or not it is animal friendly. Some suggested brands are as follows:

"Neutraceutical"


"NOW Foods"


"Future Biotics"


"First Organics"


"Deva Nutrition"


"Country Life"

What other supplements are important to take in my diet?
Multivitamins and minerals are NOT A MIRACLE DRUG. The best vitamins and minerals are ALWAYS found from organic food sources. Furthermore, many important dietary needs are not frequently found in multivitamins. Some to consider are as follows:
1) Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and DHA (which can be found in fish oil, or many vegan friendly options such as flax, or sea vegetables)
2) Calcium (many multivitamins, especially the 'one-a-day' cannot carry the necessary amount of calcium in them to lead a healthy life. Furthermore, our calcium needs increase dependent on age, so moreoften than not it is important to take an additional supplement. This is especially important for vegans, who need to consider increasing calcium rich food sources, such as dark leafy green and vegetables, fortified products, beans and nuts).
3) Iron (many people, especially menstruating, or pregnant women are iron deficient. This can cause a whole host of problems, as iron is a necessary element for overall health. Many multivitamins to not take into account the deficiencies that require a higher dose of iron)
4) Zinc and Magnesium and sometimes Vitamin D (many multivitamins are significantly lacking in these, which are crucial together for bone health).
5) Fibre (a necessary component for digestive health) 
* There are many other supplements that can be taken, including herbal, but it is always important to research them or talk to a trustworthy person before incorporating them into your vitamin routine. 


Tweet This

1 comment:

  1. You need to chose vitamin according to your body requirement. Different person need different amount of multivitamin, so chose it very seriously.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...