How to Choose the Best Multivitamin
In my practice, I recommend multivitamins (MVI) because despite excellent food choices, foods often grow in depleted soil, and many people do not absorb nutrients as well as they could. MVI's have been proved to help people in recovery from cancer and chronic illness, to prevent cancer, as well as address prevention of macular degeneration, cataracts, and much more. Many of these patients have the same question in response to my request: what exactly do I look for in a multivitamin? Without guidelines, a trip to the vitamin aisle or browsing online products can feel overwhelming -- so many choices! Here are some general guidelines below to help you feel empowered when you are choosing a multivitamin. In general, look for at least 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamins A, B-1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B-6, B- 12, C, D, E, folic acid, and niacin. If you are over 50, look for a multi with 25mcg of vitamin B-12, which is about four times the DV. Many need >1000mcg of B12 and need to supplement in addition.
Keep in Mind Serving Size: How many capsules are required per day? Is this reasonable for you?
Vitamin A: Preferably, should be in the form of beta-carotene. Should not contain more than 2500 IU as vitamin A palmitate or retinol.
Folic Acid: Should have 400 mcg of folic acid.
Vitamin D: I frequently recommend at least 2-4,000 IU vitamin D3 per day (cholecalciferol), which often needs to be taken separately from your MVI (an exception is Life Extension Two Per Day which has 2,000IU).
Vitamin E: Recommended DV is only 30 IU and even that is hard to get in the diet. Look for a supplement that provides 100-400 IU of d-alpha tocopherol, or a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Vitamin C: Minimum of 60 mg per day – you need 250-500 mg per day to saturate tissues.
Zinc/Copper: Should provide 15 mg zinc per day. The zinc:copper ratio should be 10:1 for absorption, so look for 2mg copper/day.
Calcium: Probably can’t get what is needed in MVI. Most provide 200-300 mg/day.
Magnesium: Should provide 200-300 mg per day. If constipated or have tight muscles, take additional magnesium glycinate and titrate according to 1 bowel movement daily.
Selenium: Should provide 100-200 mcg per day.
What else is in there? Many companies include herbs in their MVI preparations, for example, as a way to market the MVI as “gender-specific”, or for a particular medical issue (like “healthy eyes”). The amount of herb present in many of these products is often not enough to be helpful or harmful, and I am available to address any contraindications or possible herb-drug interactions in your personal case.
Personally, I like to recommend PhytoMulti by Metagenics to my patients because it not only meets most of the requirements listed above, but it also provides phytonutrients that are important for cell signaling and protection (reference). You can purchase this brand from our online supplement store.
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