Taking multivitamins can be beneficial.
Even if you think you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients through your diet, you could be missing some. Most Americans fail to meet dietary recommendations for many reasons, including strict dieting, less-than-healthy food choices, and more. Taking a once-daily multivitamin is an easy way to fill in small nutritional gaps.
The Harvard School of Public Health suggests a once-daily multivitamin with extra vitamin D for most people as a nutritional back-up. The Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University suggests taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement with 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for most vitamins and essential minerals to maintain health.
What to Look for in a Multivitamin
Read the Label Carefully
Product labels identify which nutrients are included and the amounts contained within each serving.
Get the Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Most multivitamin preparations usually include the following vitamins and minerals: vitamin C, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, folic acid (B9), B12, B5 (pantothenic acid), biotin, A, E, D2 or D3 (cholecalciferol), K, potassium, iodine, selenium, borate, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, beta carotene, and iron.
Check the Percentages
In general, choose a supplement that provides 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for most of the vitamins and minerals in that supplement. Some nutrients, like calcium and magnesium, are rarely included at 100% because it would make the pills too large.
Look at the Product Formula as a Whole
Modern multivitamins are available in a wide variety of formulas that are aimed at helping people with specific nutritional needs or conditions. Some of the more popular ones come with or without iron, or as high-potency formulas that contain at least two-thirds of the nutrients called for by recommended dietary allowances. Other multivitamins can contain additional select nutrients like antioxidants, or formulations that are specialized to specific conditions, such as prenatal vitamins.
Formulas for Men, Women, and Certain Age Groups
Multivitamin products are often manufactured with a formula that has a certain demographic in mind, usually by age and gender. Choosing a multivitamin that is more specifically catered to your needs may benefit you more.
Don’t Overdo It
Avoid multivitamins that exceed 100% of daily recommended values because if you consume too much, nutrients can build up in the body and become toxic. If you’re already getting close to enough nutrients without a multivitamin, consider taking a multivitamin less than every day.
Choose Products Made in cGMP-Certified Facilities
Manufacturers who operate cGMP-certified facilities follow strict guidelines to ensure that their products are manufactured in sanitary conditions. Products manufactured in cGMP facilities are more likely to be safe and contain in them what their label says.
When buying vitamins it’s always best to order them domestically, as this shortens the time that the product is in storage, transit, and on the shelf.
Choose A Product With Enteric Coating
Many vitamins will not remain viable after bypassing through the stomach’s corrosive acids. Enteric coating improves nutrient bioavailability by resisting the acids.
Overall this will ensure that there are no ingredients that could harm you such as titanium dioxide, magnesium silicate, or hydrogenated oil, along with any harmful additives or carcinogenic dyes.
Who Can Benefit from Multivitamins?
We all can benefit from taking a multivitamin daily, however, there are select groups of individuals who likely would benefit more from taking one.
Some of these groups of people include:
Older than 60
Vitamin absorption decreases with age, so taking a multivitamin can fill in some of the gaps in vitamins that you may be lacking in.
Those Who Have Undergone Gastric Bypass Surgery
After having gastric bypass surgery it’s quite common to be recommended to take calcium, iron, and vitamins D, C, and B12. The best way of getting this variety is by taking a daily multivitamin. If you fall into this category, only take multivitamins and/or other supplements or medications at the direction of your doctor.
Vegetarians and especially vegans can suffer from a lack of vitamin k12 which is mostly found in meat. If your diet consists of just a plant base it’s quite common to also suffer from a lack of zinc, iron, D vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in our bodies.
The Importance of Finding the Right Dose
Dosage is very important when taking multivitamins. In some cases, if you take too many vitamins, they can become harmful. Finding the right dose depends on the solubility of the vitamin.
Multivitamins are categorized into two groups, they are either water-soluble or fat-soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins are easily dissolved in the body and are expelled from the body very quickly, while on the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins accumulate and register in the body over long periods of time, which makes it harder for our bodies to expel them, and this is where things become unhealthy if taken in excess amounts.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins that can become toxic if eaten at high doses. If you are taking a multivitamin and consuming nutrient-dense foods at a high rate you could be exceeding the recommended daily intake of nutrients.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a multivitamin — this is only a concern if you’re taking a potent multivitamin with a high-density nutrient diet.
Health Benefits & What To Expect
Our bodies need vitamins and many nutrients to function correctly on a daily basis and having a healthy diet makes this possible. However, many of us miss meals due to an on-the-go lifestyle, so this is where taking a multivitamin can help.
An average multivitamin supplement contains a variety of different vitamins and key nutrients that we typically get from our various food sources but in pill form. The variety of vitamins help us fill in the missing gaps of vitamins that we don’t get enough of. Overall, this can increase our energy levels, improve our mood, and help us keep a good balance of all key vitamins needed in the body.
If you’re deprived of essential nutrients, it can lead to fatigue and a variety of other underlying health risks.
Recent studies have shown the connection between the foods we eat on the brain, and have been able to identify Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, Zinc, vitamin D, folate and iron as key nutrients that have the ability to boost our mood and cognitive functions.
Multivitamins contain many different vitamins and minerals that could easily fill the gap in one of your deficiencies, so they’re worth giving a try.