How To Choose Multivitamin Supplements

Orange colored pills

There are so many different multivitamins, it is hard to know which will be the best for our health. While there are no clear answers to which exact multivitamin to take, there are some things to consider when choosing one.

  1. Green food and food-based vitamins These are popular vitamins in natural food stores. The base of the vitamin is made up of nutritious "foods."  These have more phytonutrients (a broader spectrum of nutrients) and the food base is supposed to make them easier to absorb. They usually require you to take more than one pill at a time, often a few at each meal. The amount of "food" can vary from 5 mg to 500 mg. The more the better, but the more "food," the more pills you will have to take to get the right amount of nutrients.

  1. Vitamins In general, a good multivitamin will have at least 100% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of each vitamin. A good multivitamin should include vitamins A, C, D, E, Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin(B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Folate and B12. Some multivitamins have more than the Recommended Daily Allowance. There are two types of vitamins--water-soluble and fat-soluble. In general, water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, usually are okay to take more of but fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin E and A, can build in your system and cause side effects.

  1. Minerals are elements that our bodies need to function. Most multivitamins will not provide 100% RDA of minerals. This is because the amount of minerals needed couldn't fit into just one pill. A healthy diet should easily provide what your vitamin doesn't. Also some minerals such as calcium would be absorbed better taken separate from other minerals such as zinc. Look for potassium, zinc, magnesium, chromium, manganese, and selenium.

  1. Iron should only be included in your supplement if your doctor recommends it. A dangerous buildup of iron can occur otherwise.

  1. Synthetic vs. natural vitamin sources Most experts agree natural vitamin sources are better than synthetic ones. Synthetic ones are usually cheaper but there is debate about how beneficial they are.

  1. Liquid vs. pills vs. chewables There are benefits to each kind, as well as drawbacks.  For example, liquid can be swallowed easily but some vitamins (such as niacin) and minerals (such as zinc) are better absorbed in the mouth. So swishing a liquid vitamin in your mouth before swallowing is a good idea. The down side could be taste. Most have a vitamin-y flavor that takes some getting used to, and most do not meet the minimum RDA. Many chewables taste good but they probably do not meet the minimum RDA for adults . Pills are easy to swallow for most and it is usually pretty easy to find one that meets the RDA. The problem with pills is absorption. In reality, the best one to get is the one you will actually take.

  1. Special needs If you have a food allergy, check for a list of allergens the vitamin has or does not have on the label. If there is no list, skip it. If you are pregnant, nursing, vegetarian, vegan, a woman, menopausal, a man, or need more energy, there is a multivitamin for you. The label should say exactly who the vitamin would best serve.

  1. The vinegar test This test has been highly criticized. It may tell you how quickly a vitamin pill will break down in your stomach. It will not, however, tell you how potent a vitamin is. Take a quarter cup of vinegar (any kind is fine) and put your vitamin in it. In one hour, see how much it breaks down. If it is completely intact, it may be a sign that it does not have good absorption.

  1. The United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) is a non-profit group that verifies potency, label accuracy, and manufacturing standards of medications and supplements. The FDA does not regulate supplements. If you are in doubt about a brand, look for the USP symbol on the label.

If you are truly concerned about the best vitamin for you, talk to your doctor. Vitamin supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet. Think of them as insurance in case you are not getting everything that you need.


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Thanks Samantha Rufle, these were some really helpful tips and advices.

By Waheedullah Aleko