Choosing a Multivitamin

Your best source for obtaining micronutrients is through whole foods. Various circumstances may prevent you from eating healthy - that's where a multivitamin may fill in the gaps. A multivitamin is a nutrition supplement that provides a variety of vitamins and/or minerals.

Why Take a Multivitamin?

Some of the benefits include:

  • Enhance energy level and physical response to stress
  • Improve memory and concentration
  • Maintain a healthy heart and bones
  • Improve immune system response

You May Need a Multivitamin

If You Are:

  • Eating unbalanced meals
  • Short on sleep
  • Pregnant or planning to be
  • Breast-feeding
  • Ill or have medical conditions
  • Stressed
  • Lactose intolerant
  • Vegetarian
  • Consuming tobacco or alcohol
  • Depressed

How to Select a Multivitamin

Leading experts from key health organizations gathered in 2004 at the Multivitamins and Public Health workshop to review the literature regarding multivitamin use. Their deliberations resulted in a peer reviewed statement advising all American adults to take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. It is difficult for many people to get all the necessary nutrients from food alone, but there are so many supplements on the market that it can be hard to decide which supplement to take.

What to look for in a multivitamin: 100 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for:

  • A
  • B-1 (Thiamin)
  • B-2 (Riboflavin)
  • B-6, B-12
  • C
  • Chromium
  • D
  • E
  • Folic Acid
  • Niacin
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • 30 percent of the Daily Value for Vitamin K
  • Iron
    • 18 mg Pre-Menopausal Women
    • 0-10 mg Men and Post-Menopausal Women
  • Expiration date a few months from your date of purchase, to allow time to finish the product before it expires.

More is not Always Better

Avoid excess, choose a supplement with:

  • No more than 500 mg of phosphorous because we get plenty from our food.
  • No more than 200 mg of B-6 because higher doses may cause nerve damage.
  • No more than 15,000 IU of beta-carotene because higher levels may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
  • No more than recommended amount of iron (see above) because higher levels may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and constipation.

Calcium Supplements

  • Calcium recommendations for adults:
    • 1000 mg - Up to age 50
    • 1200 mg - 51+ years old
  • Due to its size, the daily value of calcium does not fit into a "one a day" multivitamin. You may need to take more than one pill a day.
  • If you consume less than three servings of dairy per day take 300 mg of calcium for each serving you miss.
  • Use a calcium citrate or calcium carbonate supplement.
  • Take calcium with meals for better absorption.
  • Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption: It can be found in: fortified milk and milk products, fish, egg yolks, a daily multivitamin, and the body makes it when exposed to sunlight.

Important Questions and Answers

If you have questions about multivitamins, consult with your physician or a registered dietitian, especially if you have a chronic illness.

  1. Where should I buy my multivitamin?
    ASU Pharmacy, health food stores, supermarkets, through the mail, or online.
  2. When is a good time to take my multivitamin?
    Multivitamins are best taken with meals to ensure optimal absorption.
  3. How much should I pay for my multivitamin?
    A 30-day supply can cost as little as $1 to as much as $15.
  4. What does the Daily Value* (DV) stand for?
    The daily value is the term on a food label that indicates recommended daily intakes of the nutrient.

Tips for Remembering to Take Your Daily Multivitamin

  • Take your multivitamin with meals for best results.
  • Take a one-a-day multivitamin.
  • Take calcium supplements separately.
  • Try chewable multivitamins if you don't like pills.
  • Set your alarm to take your multivitamin at the same time each day.
  • Keep your supplements in a visible place.
  • Put your bottle of multivitamins next to your keys and take one before you leave the house.
  • Write yourself a note and stick it to your bathroom mirror.
  • Set a goal for yourself; take one multivitamin everyday for a week.