This is an accompaniment to my previous article about Supplementing your eating with vitamins. We have already concluded that for an array of good reasons it is important to take a multivitamin daily. Now we will go further and narrow down how to choose your supplements to optimize your nutrition.
How to Choose Your Supplements
- You should take your multivitamin with a meal. The reason for this is that vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble meaning they dissolve into fat and are utilized by the body. Usually it is recommended to take with breakfast so you can optimize your nutrition throughout the day.
- Avoid vitamins that contain calcium. While calcium is an important micronutrient it is best taken apart from other supplements (and some medications). Calcium has been shown to inhibit iron absorption, as well as that of manganese, and zinc.
- While everyone should be taking Vitamin D, it is advisable to take it with calcium. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. And since we concluded that it is best to take calcium separate, combining it with Vitamin D (in the form of D3) is advised. This is not to say your multi can’t include Vitamin D. Take 2,000 IU Vitamin D daily.
Many commercial vitamins focus on Vitamin C, D, and the B group. Vitamin K is often overlooked. Studies have suggested that average healthy individuals are deficient in Vitamin K. Specifically the version Vitamin K2 has been shown to have additional health benefits such as lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Some commercial (mainly low cost) multivitamins do not actually contain significant dosages to be effective. A study publicized by NBC news shows rates of as much as only 59% of the actual label dosage claim. Consider paying a little more and buying a quality product. Also assure all dosages are disclosed on the label. Some minerals like copper, iodine, selenium, and chromium will be included but not have listed dosages. This should be a red flag that while they may be in there, it is at less than effective doses.
- Many experts will warn of Vitamin A toxicity. This should be of concern but is due to cheaper synthetic forms of A in your supplement. Sources like retinyl palmitate rapidly breakdown but build up in the liver as they are slow to be used by the body. The better choice is beta-carotene which does not build up in the body.
- Avoid multivitamins that offer extra benefits like Joint Support, Healthy Hair, Male Virility. The purpose of your multi should be to supplement your diet with vital nutrients, not to make your hair pretty or your sex drive greater. The problem these extras cause is that they can often lack in effective dosages, are often label claims to get your attention, and often will take the place of effective dosages of the necessary vitamins and minerals. A pill is only so big and dosages can’t be condensed just to fit.
- Don’t be put off by high dosages or labels stating figures like 500% of the Daily Value (DV) or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). The DV and RDI is nothing more than a blanket estimation. Factors like age, sex, activity level, pregnancy, illness, weight, etc. all influence your nutrient needs. You will see the RDI on many labels because this falls under FDA regulation. Until 2016 much of the RDI recommendations were established in 1968. New recommendations do not even need to be listed on labels until as late as July 2019. This means that even in 2018 label data can be as much as 50 years old. Now consider how much the world has changed and learned since 1968.
- Like calcium, Zinc can interfere with the uptake of amino acids and copper. If taking your multi with food as you should you want to be sure to get the benefits of the protein in your meal. Protein is made up of amino acids. Additionally, iron and zinc have been shown to have poor interaction. Instead take zinc at night before bed on an empty stomach.
- There are many forms of vitamins and minerals. Here are some preferred forms.
- Vitamin A- Beta-carotene
- Vitamin E- d-alpha-tocopherols
- Vitamin K- K2 (from MK-7 and MK-4)
- B12- Cyanocobalamin
How to choose your supplements can be a perplexing task. However, when in doubt, choose supplements and vitamins that are derived from food sources (to your best ability). The body recognizes those and knows how to break those down more efficiently.