Friday, February 11, 2011

Will Any Multi-Vitamin Do?

Happy Friday guys! What a long crazy week it's been. I am still in DC doing some training for my job and being busy busy busy. Today I have a guest post from the lovely Allison over at The Picky Eating RD. I love reading Allison's blog because it's full of information on being healthy, even when you're picky. I asked her to write about vitamins because it's something I always wonder about and hear conflicting information on. So without further ado, here's Allison!


A multivitamin is perhaps the most commonly encouraged supplement by doctors. Most often times they encourage their patients to take them with out any direction as to what kind would be best.


There are hundreds of vitamins on the market today but only a handful of those are actually beneficial. The most common question I get asked as a dietitian is: “If I eat a balanced diet isn’t that giving me enough of my daily vitamins and minerals?”. Well, if you were asking that question ~150 years ago the answer would most likely be yes! Unfortunately that is just not the case anymore. The soil we grow our fruits and veggies in has changed for the worse. In the United States the desire to mass produce our crops has caused some pretty big problems. Some of those issues include: crops to be rotated less and less (thus not replenishing nutrients), an increase in chemical fertilizers rather than natural, and an overall decrease in the soil’s nutrients. The amount of fruits and vegetables you have to eat to get 100% of your daily needs would not fit into your stomach!

Not all vitamins are created equal in fact some are just a waste of money! Here are some tips for selecting your vitamin:

1. Delivery Form: Capsules are the best form! They dissolve rapidly in the stomach and don’t require heating or pressing to be made. Solid tablets are not the best choice because if they are pressed too hard they may not dissolve completely and pass right through the body. Also, the pressing can destroy sensitive vitamins and decrease the activity level in the tablet.

2. Gender Specific Formulas: The physiological needs for men and women can be similar but they are not exactly the same. Women benefit from vitamins that are higher in iron, calcium, and folic acid. Men benefit from vitamins that contain more zinc and vitamin E to help support healthy testosterone production.

3. Vitamin Types: Do some research because synthetic (fake) vitamins are very common in many cheap brands. Unfortunately most brands contain 1 or more synthetic form of a vitamin. The natural form is better utilized in the body.

4. Amino-Acid Chelation: Chelation refers to the process of binding one mineral to another substance. Iron for example is absorbed upwards of 80% once chelated vs. elemental iron which is only absorbed at a rate of 4%.

5. AM and PM formulas: The A.M. formula should include very strong doses of the B-vitamins to help optimize energy production, as well as neural and muscular function when we need them most. While the P.M. formula should rely more heavily on solid doses of vital minerals to help our bodies wind down, recuperate and repair. If you cannot find an AM/PM formula then a 2x/day vitamin is always better than a 1x/day.

Here are a few things to watch out for:

1. Once daily vitamins: These products can sometimes be suboptimal. I hear many people complain that taking a vitamin upsets their stomach. More often than not it is the result of your stomach trying to breakdown these tightly packed fake minerals. It is impossible to squeeze viable vitamin levels of every vitamin and mineral into 1 tablet. These products often cost less and typically use low quality ingredients. Vitamins in once daily pills are commonly synthetic.

2. Tablets with out dissolution info: Vitamins come in a tablet or capsule form. Capsules dissolve quickly in the gut. While some tablets are pressed to “tightly” and do not dissolve completely, passing through the system unabsorbed

At the end of the day I do believe multivitamins are beneficial to one’s health but only when in the proper form. I like my clients to think of them as an insurance policy. The ultimate goal is to get as many vitamins and minerals from the food you eat each day. A vitamin can help to make up for small gaps that may ensue in a person’s diet. Hopefully some of these tips will help you in selecting a high quality vitamin to take!

Do you currently take vitamins? What do you take?


  1. Totally timely post for me- I just noticed that my Zoo Chews (obviously intended for children) don't have iron or folate! Oops- guess I'll be switching brands once I'm done with this bottle.

  2. Yes!! Some childrens multis are completely missing the minerals we need as women! Glad it was helpful for you.

  3. Hi Allison!
    Love this post. Do you have any specific brand recommendations?
    Also...have you heard of the "vinegar" test? I have people ask me about this, and I really don't think it's a good way to test a vitamin, but it's all over the internet...
    I take my vitamins and minerals separately.
    I take a liquid mineral supplement from Mineral Life, plus I take fish oil in the form of krill oil. I also take pycnogenol for an antioxidant, and I take lypospheric vitamin c. I take vit D separately, and I also take a chlorella supplement and MSM (for joint health). I use a ton of nutritional yeast, and try to get the rest of my vitamins from eating/drinking 10-20 servings of veg per day.