The function of a multivitamin is to provide all or most of the essential vitamins and minerals that are needed to supplement what can be obtained from the average diet. Most multivitamins also include non-essential nutrients like herbs and antioxidants, and quite often, they don't include important nutrients like essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. As such, a multivitamin will never be able to replace the benefits one gets from a healthy, well-balanced diet.
However, even the healthiest diet won't always provide every necessary daily nutrient. There are also factors such as pollution, stress and the typical diet of today's fast-paced lifestyle. This is why a multivitamin is so necessary, and even the American Medical Association recommends that all adults take a multivitamin daily. It is especially important for certain groups, such as vegans and vegetarians, people taking certain medications and those with particular illnesses.
Multivitamins in Many Forms
All health supplements are not created equal. At All Star Health, we carry only high-performance vitamins and supplements, sports nutrition and more for optimal health and fitness. You can find multivitamins in various formats to fit every lifestyle and personal preference. You can choose from capsules, tablets, liquids, powders and chewable vitamins. Which type is right for you?
Tablets are the most economical variety of multivitamin and are well-suited for most individuals. Thanks to modern manufacturing, each tablet can contain a large amount of nutrients. They're designed with special ingredients so that they completely disintegrate in the body.
Capsules, for some, are easier to swallow. However, they're more expensive with a smaller capacity. Therefore, more are required for the same amount of nutrients.
Powdered vitamins can be mixed into smoothies or other liquids, and they're available flavored or unflavored. Powdered vitamins are economical, but they're less stable than tablets or capsules, so they should be used up once opened.
Liquid vitamins are the most expensive but are easy to take. It is often said that they absorb into the body faster than capsules or tablets, but that isn't always the case. Besides, some experts believe that the slower release of capsules and tablets are better.
Chewable vitamins are available for both adults and children. Due to the strong taste of vitamins, chewables tend to be low potency compared with other types of vitamins.
What Do You Need in a Multivitamin?
There are special formulations of multivitamins for women, men, children, people 50 years of age or older, vegetarians and pregnant women.
Men – Men's multivitamins usually do not contain iron, since excess iron has been found to be linked to heart disease.
Women – Multivitamins for women usually have more calcium and most have a minimum of 400 mcgs of folic acid. Some women's multis come in iron or iron-free versions, since iron is usually only needed in childbearing years.
50+ Years of Age – Multivitamins for older adults tend to be without iron and with additional calcium (up to 1200 milligrams daily). They also frequently have B-complex vitamins and vitamin D (10-15 mcgs).
Children – Multivitamins are a lower potency, regardless of their format. They typically include only essential vitamins and minerals and have fewer added nutrients than adult vitamins.
Pregnant Women – Prenatal vitamins are similar to women's multivitamins. They may have extra iron, folic acid, calcium and other ingredients for soothing the stomach.
Vegetarians/Vegans – Many multis are available as vegetarian formulas. There are nutritional deficiencies that may arise from vegetarian diets (such as not enough B12).
How to Use Multivitamins
Multivitamins should be taken with food and ideally in equally divided doses throughout the day. If that isn't possible, take it with the largest meal. Whether you take it in the morning, afternoon or evening is not critical. You'll receive the same benefits whenever you take it.
Other important tips for using multivitamins:
- Multivitamins can't supply all essential nutrients
- They usually don't include omega-3 fatty acids and essential amino acids, or only in small amounts; use flax oil or fish oil supplement along with multivitamin
- Whey protein shakes are a good addition for essential amino acids (high-quality, easy to digest of all complete protein sources)
Multivitamin Side Effects and Cautions
Multivitamins are very safe if they are used as directed. If it is taken without sold food, you may experience nausea.