1 February 2012
Choosing a Multivitamin
Posted by Wellness under: Health Supplements .
One look at the dietary supplement section will give you a good idea of what’s out there–everything from the tried-and-tested to the new and downright suspicious. For parents and diet-conscious adults alike, choosing the right multivitamins can be a challenge with the sheer number of options on offer, the good mixed with the bad. What makes one multivitamin better than the other? What should you look for?
The quick and dirty trick is to keep it simple. The more elaborate the ingredients are, the less likely the product is to be effective. That’s because a good multivitamin contains only the things you need, the ones that tend to be lacking in common food sources. For most people, these are Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, Vitamins C, D, and E, and folic acid. If you’re looking for a general multivitamin, look for one that provides 100% of the recommended daily value of these nutrients.
Other vitamins and minerals may be added, but they’re not essentials; that is, either you get enough of them a typical diet or your body can make enough on its own. One example is Vitamin A: since you get a good dose from fruits and vegetables, taking supplements in addition can result in an overdose. If you do need supplements but are eating enough on the side, make sure there’s no more than 15,000 IUs of beta-carotene, the kind you get from food, and at least 4,000 IUs from retinol (non-dietary Vitamin A).
Extras aren’t uncommon in multivitamins, but it’s your job to read the labels and consult your doctor to make sure you’re getting the right amount of everything. Some things to look for include copper, selenium, and zinc, which appear only in small amounts in food. Calcium is also occasionally added to the mix, but you usually can’t fit the daily dose of 1 to 2 grams into a single pill with all the other vitamins. That’s why people with calcium deficiencies are given separate supplements instead.
And then there are extras you probably can’t do without, usually because you don’t need more than what you already get from food. Some of the most common “unwanted” extras are iodine, biotin, potassium, and pantothenic acid. Phosphorus is also fairly unnecessary, especially since it’s been shown to interfere with calcium absorption.
All that being said, multivitamins are just what the labels say they are–dietary supplements. Ideally, you should be getting your nutrients from food sources, or at least most of them. If you think you need some help getting your daily dose, talk to your doctor for an idea of what kind to get.
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