We have experienced taking vitamins at some point in our lives, even if the vitamins are from our local health center. However, with a lot of vitamins available in the market now, the process of choosing the right multi for you can be overwhelming.
It’s ultimately up to you and your physician to determine whether taking a multivitamin is right for you. There are many options out there but here are some of the guidelines to help navigate the multivitamin maze. Look for:
1. Appropriate daily values of ingredients
Choose a multivitamin with 100%of the daily value of most of its ingredients. Some nutrients, such as calcium, can’t be included in a multivitamin at 100% – if it was, the multivitamin would be too large to swallow. Magnesium and potassium levels are kept low to avoid drug-nutrient interactions, so we need to get these nutrients primarily through our diet (see food sources below.). Keep in mind, too, that exceeding 100% of the daily value of certain nutrients is not helpful. Some nutrients – like vitamins A, D, E, and K – can build up in the body and become toxic.
2. The right balance for your age and sex
Nutrient needs vary depending on gender and age. For example, premenopausal women need more iron, while older adults need more calcium, vitamin D, and B6. A dietician or your family doctor can help you determine how much specific nutrients you need for your age and gender.
3. Essential micronutrients
Your body needs micronutrients to keep your systems humming. Besides well-known nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium, a good multivitamin will include:
1.Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin
2.B6, B12, and folate
3.Calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc
4.Vitamins A (including beta carotene), E, and K
5.Vitamin D2 or D3
You can skip multivitamins that are made with additional micronutrients for which there are no recommended daily values (examples: boron, nickel, and tin).
4. The nutrients you need
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, American diets often lack calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber. Most multivitamins contain 100% of the daily value for vitamin D, but have limited amounts of calcium and potassium and no fiber. Therefore, even if you take a multivitamin, it’s important to consume foods rich in these nutrients:
1.Calcium: Low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt; calcium-fortified, plant-based milks; orange juice; cereals; tofu (prepared with calcium citrate); and almonds
2.Vitamin D: salmon, enriched milk (cow or plant-based), fortified orange juice, or cereals and yogurt
3.Potassium: Beans and legumes; potatoes; low-fat milk and yogurt; lower-sodium canned tomato products; fruits; and lamb, pork, and fish
4.Fiber: Beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; oats and whole grains; and fruits and vegetables
5.Magnesium: Nuts and seeds, avocado, spinach, dry beans, whole grains, and oats.
Source: Rodder, S., (2021, January, 20). 5 signs you’ve chosen the right multivitamin. UTSouthwestern Medical Center. https://utswmed.org/medblog/multivitamins-supplements/