Most of us know we should probably take a multivitamin, but you may not know about some simple things to look for in a multivitamin when you actually go to buy one. There are so many choices of multivitamins out there that even as a supplement expert, I still get overwhelmed. When in college, I took a certification course on nutritional supplementation, and learned so much that even I wasn’t aware of after personally studying nutrition on my own for three years prior to that. What I learned has helped me so much, and taught me how to turn a blind eye to false advertisements, overly priced multivitamins that come up short, and how to avoid unnecessary ingredients in my multivitamins. I sure have come along way since the days I used to pop a few Flintstones multis each and every morning as a kid, though I do admit, they were tasty! Check out these important things to look for in a multivitamin if you’re overwhelmed like I used to be. Hopefully, it will make your next multivitamin purchase a worthwhile one, and an easier one.
One of the first things to look for in a multivitamin is the iron content. Most multis come with an average of 18 mg of iron, which is the daily recommended value for adults. However, some versions have no added iron included. Many women are sensitive to too much iron, and may choose a brand without iron added for health purposes, or because they’ve been directed by their doctor to do so. Be sure that you choose one with iron if you suffer low energy or a low thyroid, since iron can help boost energy levels. If you’ve been advised to avoid iron overload, or eat enough foods with iron, it is best to avoid any added sources, especially from synthetic vitamins.
2. B Vitamins
The second thing you should look for in a multivitamin is how many B vitamins are in the blend. B vitamins are essential to a healthy metabolism and to provide you energy through the day. Make sure the brand you choose has at least 100% of all the B vitamins, if not more of Vitamin B12 and B6, which help a healthy nervous system function properly, and help boost your metabolism to give you all day energy.
I’m so surprised that most multivitamins don’t have more magnesium in them, because most Americans are short of this vital mineral. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in your entire body. It is essential to a healthy nervous system, it prevents and treats headaches, migraines, depression, nervousness, anxiety, lack of focus, PMS, and moods swings. It also calms you down and can help prevent and treat constipation as a result. Magnesium helps your muscles recover after exercise and helps provide healthy bones. Most multivitamins only contain around 13-20% of your daily magnesium needs, which is why many people are advised to take a supplement. I advise getting a multivitamin that has at least 100% of your daily magnesium values, and I even take an additional 500 mg supplement on top of that due to the value of this important mineral. Magnesium levels are quickly depleted in the body anytime physical or emotional stress occurs, which is why it is so vital you get enough of it.
4. Vitamin D
Along with magnesium, Vitamin D is essential for healthy living. It helps prevent and treat depression, and it contributes to osteoporosis prevention by preventing bone loss when combined with calcium in the body. Sunshine is the best source, but most people don’t get near the amount of necessary Vitamin D from the sun. Be sure to take a multivitamin with at least 3,000 I.U. (international units) of Vitamin D, or take a supplement of 5,000 I.U. if you fall short, or suffer weak bones or depression.
5. Food Bound
Another important factor to look for in a multivitamin is something people don’t think about. Where is your multivitamin actually coming from? Where are the nutrients produced? I’m a big believer in whole food bound multivitamins, which are multis that actually come from food sources, or soil-bound sources. Most that you find in the stores are synthetically made, meaning they are produced through a chemical process in a lab, not from whole foods. I choose to spend my money on food bound supplements from brands like Rainbow LIght, Garden of Life and Sunwarrior, which are some of the highest quality multivitamins that you can buy coming from food bound sources, not synthetics. There are other brands out there, but these are simply some of my favorites.
There is a part of a vitamin label most people don’t pay attention to. You’re at the store, you look at the back panel, and take a quick glance, then look at the price. After that, it either goes in your buggy, or it doesn’t. Yet, I want you to take a closer look at the back panel next time, where the ingredients and nutrition label is located. Underneath the nutrition label, you’ll see a tiny section that says "other ingredients." Look at that part of the label and see what additives are there. Some include nasty food dyes, chemicals like propylene glycol, processed soy, and allergens from wheat, soy, gluten, and dairy, along with shellfish and fish. Be sure you check this part if you’re concerned about what else you’re taking in your multivitamin. This is another reason to buy whole food based vitamins, which contain none of the bad stuff, or sketchy stuff you can’t pronounce.
7. Serving Size
I don’t know about you, but I particularly don’t like popping 6 pills a day just to get my multivitamin. However, many actually require you to take 4-6 pills to get the amounts included on the nutrition panel. This is a way many brands are able to mark up the price and fool consumers. If a bottle says 120 capsules, etc., consumers think they are getting a real deal on their mutli, but many require you to take 4 pills a day, just to get the entire amounts on the label. If you don’t look at the serving size, you could be getting ripped off, and come up short on your daily vitamin counts by only taking one pill. Be sure you look at the serving size so you know how many pills you’re going to have to pop each day, and how much you’re paying for them. Even some food bound brands I recommend use this trick, and though I don’t mind because I know it comes from a better source, it is something you should be aware of when purchasing your multivitamin.
You might not have thought too much about these things when purchasing your multi, but hopefully now you’ll be a little more informed. The truth is, you don’t need a ton of supplements to stay healthy if you choose a high quality multi that contains an array and multitude of nutrients to supplement your body with. What do you look for when choosing a multivitamin?