Imagine: You're standing in the vitamin aisle of the grocery store, thinking…. Do I need a multivitamin? You're trying to decide which multivitamin to buy, and the volume of choice is overwhelming.
With hundreds of brands and formulations available, a simple question begs the ask… How are you supposed to tell which vitamin is best for you and which one is unnecessary?
Why Take a Multivitamin?
According to the American Dietetic Association, you need a multivitamin if you don't know how to plan a healthy diet, or fit one or more of these categories:
- Are constantly on the go
Have erratic eating habits
Follow a low-calorie diet for weight loss
Are over 50
Avoid entire food groups, such as dairy or fruit
Are a teenager
That list covers just about every living person in the United States!No more than five years ago, health professionals told most people just to eat a healthy diet and not worry about supplementing with vitamins and minerals.The reality of today's busy lifestyle and on-the-go eating habits is that many people nowadays need a multivitamin. Early research has shown that there might be additional health benefits from taking a multi-vitamin.Reduced risk of heart disease and colon cancer may be two of the potential benefits from both eating a healthy diet AND taking a daily multivitamin.
Do I Need a Multivitamin?
According to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., of Tufts Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, a multivitamin provides insurance to fill in the vitamin and mineral gaps in our diet.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that most Americans take in too little vitamins B6, B12, E and folic acid, calcium, and zinc, and so need a multivitamin.
A multivitamin can't help if your diet is too low in fiber or high in fat or sodium… But it can make up specific vitamin and mineral shortfalls.
Which multivitamin is the best for me? It depends on who you are.
No perfect supplement fits every single person.
Follow these multivitamin guidelines for the best results:
Choose a multivitamin that includes minerals, especially zinc. Most will contain small amounts of calcium, but no mega pill includes 100 percent of everything you need. Look for supplements that do NOT provide more than 300 percent of the daily value (DV) for any individual nutrient. Too much of specific nutrients can cause health problems.
The label should state that the manufacturer conforms to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) disintegration standards to ensure that the supplement will dissolve and absorb in your digestive system.
Generic brands can save you money if they meet the above criteria. Most expensive does not necessarily mean most effective.
Look at the expiration date and make sure that you will have used all the supplements before that time.
Most people do not need extra iron. Unless your physician has recommended you take a multi-vitamin with iron, avoid supplements that contain it.
Store all supplements in a dark and dry location. Heat, humidity, and light can speed the loss of potency.
Safe Limits of Individual Nutrients
The National Academy of Sciences and the Council for Responsible Nutrition have established safe upper limits for most nutrients. That means that you should not consume more than this amount on a regular basis.
Remember that these amounts include all the nutrients in foods AND supplements.
Since more and more foods are fortified with extra nutrients, you really have to be aware of what you're eating and supplementing to avoid unsafe levels of some vitamins or minerals.
Do not to exceed the dosages below in a day:
- Vitamin A: 10,000
- IUVitamin C: 1,000 mg
- Vitamin D: 800 IU
- Vitamin E: 1,200 IU
- Thiamin (B1): n/a
- Riboflavin (B2): n/a
- Niacinamide (B3): 35 mg
- Vitamin B: 6100 mg
- Folic Acid: 1,000 mcg
- Vitamin B12: n/a
- Biotin: n/a
- Pantothenic Acid: n/a
- Calcium: 2,500 mg
- Iron: 65 mg
- Phosphorus: 4,000 mg
- Iodine: 1,000 mcg
- Magnesium: 350 mg (upper limit for supplements only)
- Zinc: 30 mg
- Copper: 9 mg
- Potassium: n/a
- Vitamin K: n/a
- Selenium: 200 mcg
- Manganese: 10 mg
- Chromium: 1,000 mcg
- Molybdenum: 350 mcg
- Chloride: n/a
- Nickel: n/a
- Silicon: n/a
- Vanadium: n/a
- Boron: n/a
- Tin: n/a
Miodrag Kablinovic is the founder of Miosuperhealth.com. A health blog which teaches about nutrition, fitness and how to make healthy and easy smoothie recipes. Miodrag is a passionate runner and does martial arts since he was 7 years old.