In recent years, the public has come to realize there are many good reasons to begin taking a multivitamin. Even if a person makes sure they are following a healthy diet that consists of nutrient-rich food, no plan can fully account for the 40-plus nutrients that are needed every day.
The majority of Americans do not meet these basic recommendations for numerous reasons, such as strict diets, poor appetites, or unhealthy food choices. The best way to ensure nutritional gaps are closed is by taking a daily multivitamin.
Choosing the multivitamin that works for each individual can be confusing and can often deter people from starting a multivitamin regimen. There are so many different brands and varieties that it is hard to know where to begin. Following simple tips and tricks to navigate the multivitamin world can make it easier to make the right choice.
Why Take a Multivitamin?
It is no secret that nutrients are essential to make health and wellness complete. The best way to get these nutrients in a natural way is by eating healthfully. Eating a diet from all the food groups recommended in the food pyramid provides you with many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are essential for health.
It is important to note that a multivitamin is not a substitute for healthy food or a healthy lifestyle. It simply adds a back-up for a diet that is missing some essential nutrients and minerals. Diets that eliminate whole food groups or diets that do not have enough of a variety may need the help of a multivitamin.
Calcium, vitamin D, dietary fiber, and potassium were noted by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as nutrients that were of the largest concern for inadequate intake by adults. All of these nutrients can be supplemented by taking a multivitamin, while fiber can come in a separate supplement
More than half of adults in the United States say they take dietary supplements, while multivitamins are the most common supplement.
As for any topic in science, experts do not always agree. There is plenty of disagreement about the true effects of daily multivitamins, but it is very reasonable to assume that multivitamins help head off chronic conditions and health risks, and support general health.
All in all, it is important to remember that the deficiency of a nutrient is much greater than the risk of overdosing. In fact, most diets are missing nutrients, and taking a multivitamin daily will not cause harm. It is more likely to help a poor diet than hurt a sufficient one.
What to Look for in a Multivitamin
|● Read the label. It is important to always read the label of any product carefully. Product labels help to identify the nutrients included, as well as the amounts in each serving size. On the label, it will tell you if it is a whole food multivitamin or if the ingredients have come from whole foods. Synthetic multivitamins usually have a shorter list of ingredients, while whole-based multivitamins have a long list.
|● Get the basic vitamins and minerals. There are basic vitamins and minerals that should be found in the multivitamin that is considered for consumption. Some of these include vitamin C, B1, B2, and B3, folic acid, biotin, potassium, iodine, borate, zinc, calcium, and iron.
|● Know the difference between natural vs. synthetic. It is important when choosing which multivitamin is most suitable to figure out the source of the ingredients. This helps to prove the quality of the product. Natural products are created with whole foods, while synthetic products were manufactured in laboratories. One of the best ways to tell the difference between these two versions is to look at the label. For example, vitamin C is an extremely complex vitamin that is made up of many other types of vitamins. Because of this, vitamin C is often listed as one of its components, ascorbic acid. If just this item is listed, all the other vitamins that make up vitamin C are missing. This means that the multivitamin is only supplying a fraction of the actual vitamin C, meaning it was manufactured in the laboratory.
|● Check the percentages. To follow a simple guideline, it is best to choose a supplement that will provide 100% of the Daily Value for most of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement. Even so, some nutrients, including calcium and magnesium, are not usually sold at 100%, since the pill would simply be too large to swallow.
|● Look for the extras. In today's age, most multivitamins are available in such a wide variety of formulas that the choice can be overwhelming to the consumer. Many of vitamins are created to help people with specific nutritional needs. The most popular vitamins come loaded either with or without iron. Others come with a high-potency formula that is made with at least two-thirds of the nutrients called for by the recommended allowances. Others can contain additional nutrients like antioxidants, or multivitamins that cater to specific conditions, like prenatal vitamins for pregnant women. For the most part, no nutrient can be successful on its own. It will need other nutrients to help it to function properly. The best multivitamin comes with many different vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids to help with absorption and to meet the daily needs of the consumer.
|● Avoid additives. Even though it is best to choose a multivitamin that comes with many different types of nutrients, try to avoid any fillers or additives. Some examples of these additives include sugar, starch, gluten, silica, and artificial colors and flavors.
|● Choose formulas for men and women and by age groups. It is best to choose a multivitamin that is designed for the specific age and gender of the person who will be consuming the multivitamin. This ensures that the right nutrients will be available for the right people.
|● Don’t overdo it. Try to avoid any multivitamin that exceeds 100% of the values that are recommended. These supplements are often used in addition to nutrients found in foods, so they can build up and can even become toxic.
Selecting Multivitamins for Your Age and Gender
While any multivitamin will carry benefits, a multivitamin that is created for specific needs will always be most helpful. Most are, in fact, formulated for the different nutritional needs of different audiences. This is because at the various stages of life, different nutrients are more in demand.
Choosing the multivitamin that ensures these nutrients are received as the aging process continues is extremely important. Not only are some supplements aimed at specific ages, but they can also be aimed at women who are in need of prenatal vitamins since they will need more iron in their diet.
|● Women. The most specific type of multivitamin for women are those designed with child-bearing in mind. These supplements include nutrients that are required for women from the age of 18 to 50. These include more iron and folic acid to help combat birth defects in women who have the possibility of becoming pregnant.
|● Men. Multivitamins for men often come loaded with a higher dose of several different vitamins and minerals. One mineral excluded is iron. Men often do not need the extra iron in their diet, and consuming too much iron can cause liver damage.
|● Seniors. Americans over the age of 50 require specific multivitamins. After the age of 50, absorption of nutrients like calcium, and vitamins B6 and B12 slow down, and more vitamin D is needed. The body does not produce enough of the acid that is needed to break down the nutrients that naturally occur in the food that is consumed. The vitamins that are found in the supplements are easier for the body to absorb because they do not require the acid from the body to do so.
Vitamin supplements do not last forever and will become less effective over time, especially when they are stored incorrectly. Taking an expired multivitamin will not cause any harm, but it probably will not do anything positive, either. Always double check the expiration dates before using, and replace them if they have expired.
Multivitamins should be stored in a cool and dry place. Because of this, forget about storing them in a fridge, bathroom, or a kitchen. A refrigerator is cool, but the moisture can reduce their potency. As for the bathroom, showers will create a hot and humid environment on a frequent basis. The issue with a kitchen is that the heat and humidity will change often as different appliances are used and will also impact the effectiveness of the vitamin.
Store them in a place that is high and dry. Never forget to place all supplements out of children’s reach and keep the multivitamins in their original containers. Some multivitamins require a specific type of packaging and come in dark packages because they lose their effect when exposed to a lot of light.
Which Multivitamin Form Should You Choose?
Multivitamins come in many different forms, and it is important to find the best method of consumption for the user. Most come in capsules, but there are many available as tablets, powders, chewables, gummies, and liquids, as well as injectable formulations that are available for administration by healthcare providers.
These different forms affect the way the body absorbs the nutrient. Liquid multivitamins tend to be absorbed much quicker than the coated pills. This is because the coating of the pill prevents absorption in the stomach.
If one should find it difficult to swallow pills, finding a multivitamin that is gel-coated or a liquid will make it easier to swallow. Chewable gummies are also a great option.
Multivitamins can be taken at any time of the day, but if stomach discomfort is of concern while taking a supplement, taking it with food can help to lessen any of these problems.
It is important to note that the government sets the limit on most of the common vitamins and minerals. They consider the nutrients that are provided by the food and beverages that are consumed.
Multivitamins will vary by brand
, but most must contain three or more vitamins and minerals at doses that are below the tolerable limit, and they are not allowed to contain herbs, hormones, or drugs. These limits and additives are regulated by the FDA as “dietary supplements.” This means they are products that are taken by mouth which are supposed to aid a diet.
A good measure of safety can be found by the designation “USP” on the multivitamin label. A supplement will meet the requirement of the U.S. Pharmacopeia that ensures that the supplement meets required standards, and it is pure.
Make sure to consult a healthcare provider before starting any multivitamin, especially if the supplement is over-the-counter.
Multivitamins are a great way to aid in a healthy diet and lifestyle. They should never be used in place of naturally occurring vitamins and nutrients in food and drink, but should be used to make sure that nutrient gaps are eliminated.
There are many benefits of taking a multivitamin and, with all the brands and varieties out there, it is best to choose one that pinpoints the age and the gender of the person who will be taking it to ensure all their personal health needs are met. Different ages and genders require different amounts of a variety of nutrients, so taking these multivitamins caters to the specific needs of the user.
Multivitamins come in many different forms that allow the user to pick the one that works for them. Some might prefer coated pills, others might like the taste and ease of gummies, while others might opt for the liquid or injectable form of a multivitamin that can be administered by a health care provider.
When used correctly, multivitamins are a great and natural way to complement the everyday diet and to safely close the nutrient gap many American adults face. Multivitamins assist in reaching and maintaining optimum health at whatever stage of life you may be.