You want to have the best absorption and assimilation in order to benefit from a multivitamin. A lot of inexpensive multivitamins save you money by using nutrient forms that are not absorbable. If you can’t absorb it, it will just pass through you and your “saved money” ends up in the toilet.
Look at the labels. Here are some forms of nutrients that are the most active and best utilized by the body:
- Vitamin A from mixed carotenes (instead of synthetic beta-carotene that may increase risk of lung cancer in smokers)
- Vitamin B6 as pyridoxal 5′-phosphate
- Vitamin D as vitamin D3
- Folate as methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF)
- Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin (instead of cyanocobalamin)
Should you take a multi with food?
It is best to take a multi with food to avoid any possible side effects (such as an upset stomach). Certain multivitamin-minerals supplements contain high amounts of B vitamins or iron. This can cause some nausea or digestive upset if taken on an empty stomach. Also note that large amounts of Riboflavin (B2) can make urine bright yellow.
Compare the amount of vitamin and minerals in different brands. Often cheaper ones will have very small amounts of vitamins e.g. a good amount of B vitamins are around 30mg but some contain 5mg.Another thing to consider is what the nutrients are bound to. If the form of nutrients is less absorbable, such as magnesium or calcium oxide, it can increase the risk of gastric upset, constipation or diarrhea. And this size, the more minerals in it the bigger it has to be.
Should everyone take a multi?
Prescription medications can deplete key nutrients. For example, cholesterol-lowering medications, like statins, deplete CoQ10; oral contraceptives deplete B vitamins; diabetes medications, like metformin, deplete vitamin B12.Daily stress, hormone fluctuations and diseases also increase nutritional demands on the body. Since the body is constantly striving for homeostasis, providing it with the proper nutrients will help it achieve this balance much more efficiently.
In addition, vegan diets may be lacking B vitamins, iron and vitamin D. This would make the need for a multi even more crucial for vegans or vegetarians.
Unfortunately, multiples do not taste very good, so the chewable (often for kids) or liquid options are loaded with sugar and very low in essential nutrients in order to have a good taste.
In summary, a multi is a great way to supplement your nutritional gaps but isn’t a substitute for good nutritious food.