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Take a Daily Multivitamin

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Choosing a Multivitamin

Your best source for obtaining micronutrients is through whole foods. Various circumstances may prevent you from eating healthy - that's where a multivitamin may fill in the gaps. A multivitamin is a nutrition supplement that provides a variety of vitamins and/or minerals.

You May Need a Multivitamin, If You Are:

  • Eating unbalanced meals
  • Short on sleep
  • Pregnant or planning to be
  • Breast-feeding
  • Ill or have medical conditions
  • Stressed
  • Lactose intolerant
  • Vegetarian
  • Consuming tobacco or alcohol
  • Depressed

How to Select a Multivitamin

If you maintain a healthy eating style, you may not need a multivitamin. Research is not clear about whether there are any additional benefits of a multivitamin if you are already well-nourished. However, a multivitamin can help fill nutritional gaps for students whose eating style limits the amount of nutrients they consume. 

If you decide to add a multivitamin to your daily routine, look for something affordable that contains 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for:

  • A
  • B-1 (Thiamin)
  • B-2 (Riboflavin)
  • B-6, B-12
  • C
  • Chromium
  • D
  • E
  • Folic Acid
  • Niacin
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • 30 percent of the Daily Value for Vitamin K
  • Iron
    • - 18 mg Pre-Menopausal Women
    • - 0-10 mg Men and Post-Menopausal Women
  • Expiration date a few months from your date of purchase, to allow time to finish the product before it expires.

More is not Always Better

Avoid excess, choose a supplement with:

  • No more than 500 mg of phosphorous because we get plenty from our food.
  • No more than 200 mg of B-6 because higher doses may cause nerve damage.
  • No more than 15,000 IU of beta-carotene because higher levels may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
  • No more than recommended amount of iron (see above) because higher levels may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and constipation.

Calcium Supplements

  • Calcium recommendations for adults:
    • - 1000 mg - Up to age 50
    • - 1200 mg - 51+ years old
  • Due to its size, the daily value of calcium does not fit into a "one a day" multivitamin. You may need to take more than one pill a day.
  • If you consume less than three servings of dairy per day take 300 mg of calcium for each serving you miss.
  • Use a calcium citrate or calcium carbonate supplement.
  • Take calcium with meals for better absorption.
  • Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption: It can be found in: fortified milk and milk products, fish, egg yolks, a daily multivitamin, and the body makes it when exposed to sunlight.

Important Questions and Answers

If you have questions about multivitamins, consult with your physician or a registered dietitian, especially if you have a chronic illness.

  1. Where should I buy my multivitamin?
    Local drug store, health food stores, supermarkets, through the mail, or online.
  2. When is a good time to take my multivitamin?
    Multivitamins are best taken with meals to ensure optimal absorption.
  3. How much should I pay for my multivitamin?
    A 30-day supply can cost as little as $1 to as much as $15.
  4. What does the Daily Value* (DV) stand for?
    The daily value is the term on a food label that indicates recommended daily intakes of the nutrient.

Tips for Remembering to Take Your Daily Multivitamin

  • Take your multivitamin with meals for best results.
  • Take a one-a-day multivitamin.
  • Take calcium supplements separately.
  • Try chewable multivitamins if you don't like pills.
  • Set your alarm to take your multivitamin at the same time each day.
  • Keep your supplements in a visible place.
  • Put your bottle of multivitamins next to your keys and take one before you leave the house.
  • Write yourself a note and stick it to your bathroom mirror.
  • Set a goal for yourself; take one multivitamin everyday for a week.