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
- Ill or have medical conditions
- Lactose intolerant
- Consuming tobacco or alcohol
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:
- B-1 (Thiamin)
- B-2 (Riboflavin)
- B-6, B-12
- Folic Acid
- 30 percent of the Daily Value for Vitamin K
- 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 recommendations for adults:
- 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.
- Where should I buy my multivitamin?
Local drug store, health food stores, supermarkets, through the mail, or online.
- When is a good time to take my multivitamin?
Multivitamins are best taken with meals to ensure optimal absorption.
- How much should I pay for my multivitamin?
A 30-day supply can cost as little as $1 to as much as $15.
- 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.