If you are considering adding a multivitamin to your daily regimen, there are many different options to consider. However, only premium multivitamins offer the nutrition you need in a form that your body can easily absorb and use.
Premium multivitamins are made from whole foods and contain active forms of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that your body needs in order to feel your best. If you’re not sure how to choose a premium multivitamin, we have compiled some helpful tips to point you in the right direction.
Why do people use multivitamins?
You’ve probably heard many things about how great multivitamins are for you, but there are probably several benefits that you didn’t even know existed. Multivitamins provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that we are meant to receive from natural foods and beverages. Historically, people evolved to get their necessary quantities of essential nutrients through consuming a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, but our modern Western diet is high in processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats that cause nutritional deficiencies to be extremely common in the United States. While you might think that the only way to be malnourished is not eating enough calories, it is in fact far more common to consume an adequate number of calories but have a nutritional deficiency as a result of not receiving enough of a certain vitamin or mineral. The most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the United States include calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin A, and magnesium, some of which affect more than 50 percent of the population. In order to prevent nutritional deficiencies and make up for dietary insufficiencies, many people take multivitamins. In addition to correcting potential deficiencies, multivitamins can also have the following benefits:
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancers caused by nutritional deficiencies
- Reduced risk of heart attacks and death from heart disease
- Prevention of birth defects in pregnant women, such as neural tube defects in infants resulting from low levels of folate
- Decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration in older adults
- Improved memory in older adults
Who should consider taking a multivitamin?
Multivitamins are helpful for many people, including those with certain digestive disorders that impact nutrient absorption, people who follow a low-calorie diet, those with a small appetite, and people who do not receive a sufficient quantity of vitamins and minerals from their daily diets. Other groups of people that can benefit from a multivitamin include individuals who have had weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass, as weight loss surgery is known to affect the way in which the body absorbs and utilizes certain nutrients. In addition to those mentioned above, the following groups are most likely to benefit from the regular use of a multivitamin:
- Older adults: People naturally become less able to absorb nutrients from food as they age, which is one of the reasons why people are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies when they are older. Older adults most commonly experience deficiencies of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium and can benefit from multivitamins that contain these ingredients. Correcting nutritional deficiencies can help improve memory and cognitive function in older adults and can also reduce the risk of experiencing age-related macular degeneration.
- Vegans and vegetarians: Some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, are only found in large quantities in animal-based products. As a result, people who follow plant-based diets, including vegans and vegetarians, are more likely to suffer from certain nutritional deficiencies if they do not ensure that they receive an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals from other sources. Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in calcium, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Because women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are supporting the development of another human life, they have unique nutritional needs compared to women at other stages. Women typically need to receive higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as folate, in order to prevent birth defects and ensure proper development of unborn and nursing children.
Although you may have heard about the many benefits of taking a multivitamin, multivitamins are not right for everyone. People with certain medical conditions or those taking specific medications may be harmed by taking a multivitamin, so it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking a dietary supplement. For example, some medications, including retinoids and Accutane, contain high doses of vitamin A. If combined with a multivitamin that contains vitamin A, levels of the vitamin can build up to dangerous levels in the body, causing vitamin A toxicity. High levels of vitamin A can also be dangerous for pregnant women.
What are the different types of multivitamins?
There are many different brands of multivitamins for sale, but they all fall into three main types: standard multivitamins, whole food multivitamins, and glandular multivitamins.
Standard multivitamins are the kind you are most likely to find on the shelf at your local drug store or big box store. These vitamins are the most common variety because they are the least expensive to manufacture and produce due to their use of synthetic chemically isolated vitamins. For years, researchers were unaware that there is a difference between how the body absorbs synthetic vitamins as compared to vitamins that are naturally found in food because the chemical composition is the same. However, we now understand that synthetic vitamins are less readily absorbed and utilized by the body. As a result, many people end up excreting the majority of the ingredients in a standard synthetic vitamin. Synthetic multivitamins are not only less effective in delivering the nutrients that we need, they are also more likely to contribute to nutrient imbalances in certain people.
Whole food multivitamins
If you are in the market for a premium multivitamin, you will most likely find what you are looking for in whole food multivitamins. This type of multivitamin is considered the superior option in terms of multivitamins because whole food multivitamins are the most readily absorbed and utilized by the body when compared to other multivitamins. Whole food multivitamins primarily consist of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that are derived from whole foods in the form of dried food concentrates. The nutrients found in whole food multivitamins are usually non-synthetic, non-isolated, natural forms of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Glandular multivitamins derive their nutrients from the tissues and organs of certain mammals, including pigs and cows. It is widely acknowledged that organ meat is often rich in vitamins and minerals, but because all of the nutrients contained in glandular multivitamins are animal based, they are not accessible for people following a plant based diet, including vegetarians and vegans. Due to the difficulties in obtaining certain vitamins and minerals from plants alone, people following a plant-based diet are more likely to experience nutritional deficiencies than those who consume animal products.
How to choose a premium multivitamin?
If you’re going to spend your money on a multivitamin, it makes sense to select a premium multivitamin that will actually meet your body’s needs. Unfortunately, there are so many different options available these days that it can be difficult to tell whether a vitamin is premium quality or just premium priced. You’ll be able to weed out the imposters and focus on the best options for your body that are readily absorbed and best utilized. Look for the following when searching for a premium multivitamin:
- Contain a CGMP or GMP stamp on the label, indicating that the multivitamin is manufactured in accordance with the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices. These guidelines were outlined by the FDA in order to provide added accountability for the consumer, promote quality production, ensure the absence of contaminants, and ensure accurate labeling.
- Produced in an FDA-registered facility to promote transparency
- Contains bioavailable nutrients, which are vitamins and minerals in their active form. The body is better able to absorb and use bioavailable nutrients, which means they are more effective at addressing deficiencies. When examining the label of a multivitamin, consumers should look for differences between the active and inactive vitamins, such as active vitamin D3 instead of inactive vitamin D2, folate or methylfolate instead of folic acid, vitamin K2 instead of K1, and methylated B vitamins instead of synthetic B vitamins.
- Labeled as being gentle on the stomach in order to prevent digestive distress
- Free of common allergens like gluten, corn, peanuts, yeast, dairy, soy, and caffeine
- List minerals in their chelated forms (i.e. folate versus folic acid) for improved absorption by the body.
- Free of artificial chemical binders or additives, as well as artificial sweeteners and flavors