“Using a multi is a good insurance policy,” says Ronald Hoffman, MD, a wellness-oriented integrative physician in private practice in New York. Fortunately, this type of policy, unlike those sold by health insurance companies, is easier than ever to obtain.
No longer confined to pills, today’s multis also come in liquids and powders, and ingredients have evolved beyond specific vitamins and minerals. Many multivitamin products contain concentrated whole foods, antioxidant fruit blends, superfoods such as spirulina, and probiotics and/or digestive enzymes to mimic nature and enhance absorption of nutrients. Some supplements are made with raw food ingredients; other options include vegetarian, kosher, organic, or gluten free. There are even effervescent powders.
Which one should you choose? That depends upon your diet and goals.
“If you’re striving for optimum health, you’ll be better served by higher-quality products with a more comprehensive range of nutrients in quantities shown to enhance overall well-being,” says Alicia Stanton, MD, who specializes in preventive health and hormone balance in Glastonbury, Conn.
Multis contain essential vitamins and minerals, meaning those our bodies can’t produce and must obtain from food or supplements. To remain in optimum health, have ample energy, and withstand the stresses of daily life, Hoffman and Stanton suggest looking for multis with these approximate quantities of key vitamins and minerals:
Key Trace Minerals
Needed in very small quantities, trace minerals have a significant impact on health. Key ones include 200 mcg of chromium to control blood sugar and cravings; 200 mcg of selenium to support internal antioxidant production; 20 to 40 mg of zinc, an antioxidant required by every cell; 1 to 2 mg copper to support connective tissue production; and 5 mg manganese for connective tissue and antioxidant production.
How Many Pills?
One serving of a multi may be one to six pills (or a packet) per day. The dose may also contain fish oil. Otherwise, approximately 3 g of fish oil is the usual recommended amount. The best type for you depends on your diet, lifestyle, and state of health. If in doubt, check with a health professional who specializes in nutrition. Generally, the more you spread the nutrients out over the course of the day, the better your absorption of nutrients.
If you compare the nutritional content of food-based products with more traditional multi pills, you might see smaller amounts of key vitamins, such as B’s and C, in some food-based versions. Foods contain a very broad range of nutrients, and because these types of formulations aim to mirror nature, they provide a wide variety of bioavailable ingredients to support well-being. The important thing is to find what works best for you.
|Nature’s Way Alive! Whole Food Energizer Multi-Vitamin combines 29 nutrients from natural sources to support energy and overall health, and is easily digested and absorbed.|
|New Chapter Organics Every Woman’s One Daily is made with vitamins and minerals cultured in organic soy to deliver probiotic nutrients. The whole-food, organic formulation can safely be taken on an empty stomach.|
|Life’s Fortune Multi-vitamin & Mineral supplies whole-food concentrates for increased energy and vitality. The specialized formula dissolves within 28 minutes for quick absorption.|
|Garden of Life Vitamin Code Men is specially formulated for men, with nutrients to support concerns including prostate and heart health. This multi is made from RAW, whole-food nutrients, and contains live, active probiotics.|
|Bluebonnet Nutrition Targeted Multiples Veggie Choice provides targeted personalized nutrition with vitamins and minerals that specifically address the needs of vegetarians.|
|Country Life Realfood Organics Your Daily Nutrition is a whole-foods supplement that can be taken with or without food to promote energy, bone strength, and joint mobility.|
|Natural Vitality Organic Life Vitamins blends antioxidants derived from fruits and vegetables, plus amino acids, enzymes, and trace minerals in a liquid formula that is readily available to the body.|
|Rainbow Light Complete Nutritional System Multivitamin delivers phytonutrients from green foods and vegetable concentrates, plus herbs and plant-based enzymes for digestive support. One serving measures 1,221 on the ORAC antioxidant scale—equal to a full-size serving of antioxidant-rich foods such as raspberries or spinach.|