These days, it seems everyone is taking some sort of multivitamin. Often times, it is an easy way to ensure that you are getting the vitamins and nutrients that your hurried schedule may rob you of. Other times, it can be another troublesome task that you must perform in the morning every day.
Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to take one is entirely up to you. There is evidence that multivitamins are highly effective at making up for nutritional deficits and there is also evidence that seems to indicate that they are less effective than originally thought. Regardless, taking one can’t hurt, and if you decide to invest in a supplement, you should look for the following elements.
What to Look For
If you are often forgetful or have young children in the house, it may be a good idea to get a supplement that doesn’t include iron. This is because iron overdose (acute or chronic) can cause a variety of health problems. For children, these problems can potentially be lethal. If you are perpetually forgetting whether or not you’ve taken your multivitamin, it is best to be able to safely take a second.
Women in their child bearing years should invest in a multivitamin that includes folic acid. This mineral can actually reduce the risk of many birth defects. Women who are actually pregnant should take a multivitamin geared towards pregnancy to ensure that the infant receives the proper nutrition.
Older and more active individuals can benefit from a multivitamin that is high in calcium and Vitamin D. Both help strengthen the bones and prevent the possibility of stress fractures. Vegetarians should look for vitamins that contain Iron, Zinc, Calcium, and Vitamins B12 and D.
Chromium, Biotin and Magnesium are also recommended in a multivitamin, especially for individuals who are actively working out. Magnesium may actually help regulate brain activity and many individuals are deficient in the mineral.
Biotin plays an important role in converting fatty acids into energy in the body (in addition to a dozen other functions). Chromium is the more controversial of the three, but there is research to indicate that it can play a role in weight loss.
Don’t be fooled by things like “250% Vitamin C”. Chances are you’re already receiving plenty of Vitamin C in your diet already. The purpose of a multivitamin is to figure out what you’re lacking and compensate through supplementation.
Once you have determined what vitamins and minerals you specifically need, you can then select a multivitamin that fits your lifestyle. If that process seems too arduous, however, you can always find a formulation that is targeted at your age group or lifestyle.
There are “over 50”, “active”, and even gender specific formulations on the market. Be careful, however, as many multivitamins that claim to give you an energy boost do so through high doses of caffeine.
Always ready the label and consult with your primary care physician before beginning any supplement regimen. If you experience any strange side effects, cease use completely. You may be particularly sensitive to one of the ingredients.