In our American society, we are overwhelmed with food options. We often indulge ourselves with poor food choices that we should moderate to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. This usually leads to the absence of essential vitamins in our diet.
Some vitamins and minerals that are commonly lacking in our diets include calcium, iron, and vitamin D. Vitamin D and calcium are especially important for women, since the risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis greatly increases post-menopause should the individual be deficient in these nutrients.
The risk of developing a vitamin or mineral deficiency can be greatly reduced should you include a daily multivitamin supplement in your diet. However, certain precautions should be taken, to maximize the efficiency and health benefits of the supplement, and mitigate or eliminate potential negative effects. Let’s go over some strategies to help you make the right choices and find the perfect multivitamin for you.
- Ensure the multivitamin is produced by a manufacturer you can trust. The product should have a USP stamp on the label. This acts as a control and ensures the quality of the ingredients. The United States Pharmacopeia is a volunteer-based organization that tests supplements to verify the validity of the product.
- Heed promises with caution. Sometimes claims on the label lack scientific evidence. Don’t purchase the product just because it claims to be a “Performance Enhancer.”
- Find the right multivitamin for you. The right multivitamin is one that contains most of your daily recommended intake values. Search for one that has 100 percent of the daily intake value for vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folic acid.
- Consider a separate calcium supplement. It’s often difficult to meet your daily required intake of calcium in a single multivitamin capsule. If you require additional calcium and you haven’t been able to consume enough calcium food sources, a calcium supplement goes a long way, and is better than opting to take additional capsules of a multivitamin daily.
- Keep an eye out for missing nutrients. Some multivitamins might overlook some vitamins and minerals that are necessary in your diet. Your chosen multivitamin should also include the daily required values of chromium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin K. If you take a blood thinner, supplementing with vitamin K could cause complications, so make sure to consult your doctor first.
- Stick to the recommended dosage. Too much of even beneficial vitamins and minerals can be harmful. Although some nutrients are water soluble and are excreted easily when consumed in excess, others are stored in the body and increase the likelihood of toxicity should they be consumed in extreme amounts. Often times, 1-2 capsules a day are all that’s necessary.
- Consider your age and your gender. For instance, pre-menopausal women require 18 mg of iron daily, while post-menopausal women and men only require about 8 mg. Choose the right multivitamin and dosage accordingly.
Lastly, it’s important to note that your main intake of vitamins and minerals should be through food sources. A healthy and balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean forms of protein, good sources of fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is the best way to develop and maintain a healthy body.