In a fast-paced world where getting balanced nutrition from meals can sometimes feel like a Herculean task, multivitamins could be your ticket to maintaining optimal health. Widely available in different forms to suit various age groups, dietary needs, and lifestyles, they’re designed to bridge nutritional gaps. If you’re intrigued or even slightly bewildered by this world of multivitamins, let’s pull back the curtain together on this potent ally for our wellbeing.
What is a Multivitamin?
A multivitamin is a supplement that contains an array of different vitamins and minerals. Broadly speaking, it’s designed to cover any nutritional gaps in your diet. While you should get the majority of nutrients from your food directly, that can be a challenge if you’re busy.
If we consider this reality, a multivitamin can really be a big help, as it acts like nutritional insurance. It ensures you’re receiving those important elements needed for your body to function optimally. Think of it as an easy way to fill potential “nutritional holes” in your diet.
What are the Different Types of Multivitamins?
One thing to know about multivitamins is that they aren’t standardized, so they vary based on brand and type. Supplement companies choose which types of vitamins and minerals they include and in what quantities. Typically, multivitamins come in either pills or gummies.
Most multivitamin brands won’t give you your daily recommended amount of nutrients, but that’s often by design. You’re supposed to eat the rest of your vitamins and use the pill/gummy as a topper. This is also done because some multivitamins are geared toward specific people.
Common types of multivitamins Include:
- Multivitamin options for men
- Multivitamin options for women
- Supplements for seniors or children
- Supplements for pregnant women
- Multivitamins for specific health conditions
We recommend picking a multivitamin that suits your needs the best. For example, if you’re a man, but you have a specific health condition, choose a multivitamin for the health condition.
How Do You Choose the Right Multivitamin?
There’s a bit of a complex process that goes into selecting the right multivitamin. However, you can limit your choices down by using our tips. Here’s how to choose the right multivitamin.
Check for a USP Verification
Looking out for a USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) verification mark on your multivitamin is an excellent step in confirming its quality. This independent validation ensures that the product has been rigorously tested for ingredients’ authenticity, potency, and purity, so you know it’s safe.
Check Daily Values of Ingredients
Lavish vitamin and mineral amounts exceeding 100% aren’t always necessary or beneficial, and overshooting on certain vitamins can cause problems. Aiming for a multivitamin offering close to 100% of the recommended daily values ensures you receive an appropriate dosage.
Check For the Right Balance for Your Age and Sex
Unique nutritional needs arise based on different factors, such as sex and age. It’s vital to invest in a multivitamin that is crafted specifically for you, say, for a man in his 60s or a woman in her 30s. This way, you’re assured it is correctly balanced to suit your individual requirements.
Check for Essential Micronutrients
Micronutrients are essential to keep your body healthy. Make sure that your multivitamin contains well-known nutrients as well as some often overlooked vitamins and minerals.
Here are the micronutrients your multivitamin should include:
- Vitamin A, B6, B9 (folate), B12, C, D2, D3, E, and K.
- Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and Niacin (B3).
- Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium.
- Selenium and Zinc (especially for women).
Some people may need Omega 3 and 6 if they don’t eat enough kelp/seaweed (the original source for these nutrients) or fish. Limit your magnesium supplement if you’re eating fish.
Check for Essential Nutrients
Most multivitamins will contain your daily amount of vitamin D, but they may fall short in calcium and potassium. Fiber is also lacking in the American diet, and most multivitamins won’t contain it. To be safe, you should eat a balanced diet that includes calcium, potassium, and fiber.
Broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens are the best options for calcium as they can be consumed excessively without worrying about high fat or the cholesterol found in milk and cheese. Beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and potatoes are great for potassium and fiber.
Other Things to Know About Multivitamins
Here are some other things you should consider when choosing a multivitamin:
- Difference Between Gummy vs. Pill Vitamins: Vitamins taken in a pill format are often healthier because they contain less sugar and a lower amount of nutrients. Having fewer nutrients is often better, as you don’t want to overdose. If you want to convince a child to take vitamins or have a pill phobia, gummies are still a great option.
- When to Take a Multivitamin: The time of day isn’t important, but it’s ideal to take it in the morning with breakfast as it helps with food absorption. With that said, some foods may hinder vitamin absorption. For example, you should take a calcium supplement separately. If you take Synthroid, it should be consumed 4 hours before a multivitamin.
It may take some trial and error before you find the right multivitamin for you. If a multivitamin continues to upset your stomach after 3 months or consuming it with food, it’s time to switch.
Choosing the right multivitamin doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Just remember to consider your age, sex, lifestyle, and personal dietary needs when selecting. Don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider or nutritionist with any doubts or further guidance.
Click here for full podcast playlist.