Should You Be Taking A Daily Multivitamin?
According to the National Academy of Medicine’s criteria, some Americans aren’t getting all the micronutrients they need. In fact, more than 90% of Americans don’t get the estimated average requirement for vitamin D and vitamin E from their food sources.
Although most people should be able to get all their vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet, some groups of people are more at-risk for nutrient deficiency than others. If you belong to one of these groups, you may wish to consider taking a multivitamin as part of your daily routine.
And even if you aren’t part of an at-risk group, a daily multivitamin certainly won’t do you any harm. Many people think of this common supplement as an “insurance policy” — a simple and easy way to make sure that you’re getting everything you need.
You might benefit from a multivitamin if:
Nutrient deficiency is very common during pregnancy, especially if you’re also suffering from morning sickness. If you’re pregnant or trying to be, you should be regularly taking a prenatal vitamin which contains all your crucial micronutrients — particularly iron and folic acid.
Your diet is restricted or limited
If you’re vegan, vegetarian or have an allergy to a major food group such as dairy, you may find that your diet doesn’t contain all the nutrients you need. For instance, many people with a restricted diet struggle to get sufficient levels of iron, calcium or B12 from natural sources. You may wish to supplement your diet with a high quality multivitamin.
You’re older than 50
Your body begins to absorb vitamins B and D, as well as calcium, less efficiently as you get older. Taking a daily multivitamin is an effective way to ward off common health conditions for older people, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and even cancer.
You’ve had gastric bypass surgery
Most commonly gastric bypass surgery is performed to induce a state of caloric malabsorption. Just as the procedure makes it harder to absorb calories, it also makes it harder for you to absorb vitamins, minerals and certain medications. After your gastric bypass, your doctor may recommend a daily multivitamin to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
Have certain genetic or health conditions
You may have a health condition or genetics which make it difficult for you to get all the nutrients you need. You may consider taking a multivitamin if you have:
- Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s
- Cystic fibrosis
- Liver disease
- An autoimmune disorder, such as pernicious anemia
- Darker skin (you may absorb less vitamin D)
What does a multivitamin typically contain?
A good multivitamin will include 100% of your recommended daily dosage for all vital vitamins and minerals. Make sure the multivitamin you’re considering includes vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D2 or D3, E, and K. Some of the most important minerals to look out for include potassium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Your body needs these vitamins to support functions such as energy production, immune health and blood clotting. Minerals are just as important for your overall well-being, and impact growth, bone health, fluid balance and other crucial processes.
What to consider when choosing a multivitamin
Form of nutrients
The form of the multivitamin’s ingredients is a huge indicator of quality. High quality multivitamins usually contain nutrients which have been converted into their active forms. When you take the active form of a nutrient, you’re bypassing a step that your body would need to do to reap the benefits of the nutrient.
For instance, vitamin B6 is a micronutrient which impacts hormonal balance and many other functions in your body. It can be taken as pyridoxine (the inactive form) or as pyridoxine 5-phosphate (the active form). Higher quality multivitamins will contain pyridoxine 5-phosphate, to make it easier for your body to access all the benefits of the vitamin.
Sometimes cheap supplement companies use inactive forms of nutrients because they’re cheaper to produce. These won’t be bioavailable to your body, so your body won’t be able to utilize them — making them a waste of money.
Look out for added fillers
Some low quality vitamin brands add synthetic ingredients to their products. This can be to extend a product’s shelf life, make it look more visually appealing, or make it cheaper to manufacture.
When shopping for multivitamins, be careful of ingredients that you don’t recognize or colors and fillers. It’s always best to buy clean, natural products and multivitamins derived from whole food sources. This is a good way to avoid any unwanted side-effects and make sure your multivitamin is as effective as possible.
Look for the cGMP facility stamp on the label of your multivitamin. This is a third-party testing service which ensures the brand’s manufacturing practices are all up to standard.
Making sure your multivitamin is cGMP certified is a great way to have peace of mind that the supplement contains is actually what it contains, and will be an effective way to make sure you’re getting all the micronutrients you need.