In a world of health fads and crazes, it’s easy to feel like science is changing every day. Some things that were healthy to our parents’ generation might now be considered dangerous and ill-advised. But in reality, most building blocks of good health never really change. It may not be revolutionary or sensational, but one of the best things you can do for yourself is take a multivitamin. Multivitamins provide a basic foundation of minerals and nutrients, and taking them can have a number of positive health benefits.
The challenge nowadays can be deciphering which multivitamin is best for you. It can be difficult at times to strain out the noise from different manufacturers. You may be wondering, “Aren’t they all just the same?” In this article we want to discuss some of the benefits of taking a multivitamin and a few basic things to keep in mind as you shop.
Before we get into guidelines for choosing a multivitamin, let’s look at some of the key benefits and ways it can positively impact your health.
1. Supplements Nutritional Deficiencies
Probably the number one reason why people take a multivitamin is because it helps fill in any nutritional deficiencies that may be lacking in their diet. For instance, if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, you may be missing certain nutrients found in animal-based foods. Some of these may include Vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc. A daily multivitamin can help provide these micronutrients as well several others you may be lacking. However, multivitamins aren’t just for people with specialized diets. They’re beneficial for anyone who wants to ensure that they’re getting a complete nutritional foundation.
2. Helps Support Healthy Development and Growth
For children, micronutrients are essential to ensure proper mental and physical development. Many children, especially those on a Standard American Diet, aren’t meeting these requirements through the food they eat. A review published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood found that 50% of the children they surveyed had an inadequate intake of Vitamin A. Other studies have revealed similar results, citing Vitamin D and K deficiencies. Although it’s never a substitute for a healthy diet, a multivitamin can be a great way to help ensure that your child is getting the full spectrum of nutrients that they need. Later on in this article we will address some basic guidelines for choosing a multivitamin, and will provide recommendations for children’s supplements as well.
3. Helps Conserve Bone Health
As we age, it’s normal for our bone mineral density to change. We slowly develop a greater risk for fractures and other bone-related issues. Multivitamins can supply critical minerals and nutrients that not only build strong bones but also help maintain them as we age. Some of these include calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. For women especially, the best multivitamins for bone health will include these three components along with phosphorus.
Supports Cognitive Function
Multivitamins not only lay a foundation for your physical body; they also may offer a surprising number of brain health benefits as well. Some research indicates that taking a multivitamin may help protect your brain from cognitive changes due to aging. Beyond that, there is some evidence that multivitamins may boost mental health as well. A study found in Psychopharmacology uncovered that multivitamin supplementation may reduce stress levels. Other studies have linked multivitamin use to an overall enhanced sense of well-being.
Not All Vitamins Are Created Equal
If you’re in the market for a multivitamin, the selection may seem overwhelming. It would be convenient if all vitamins were the same, however, not all of them offer the same benefits. The vitamin industry is massive, generating billions of dollars in yearly revenue. With a market that crowded, manufacturers are looking for a competitive edge. Some try to rely on pricing; others try to stand out with flashy coloring; still others turn vitamins into sugary candy in an effort to sweeten the experience. But at the end of the day the only real measure of a vitamin’s effectiveness is the science and ingredients behind it.
Here are a few basic guidelines to remember when looking for a multivitamin:
• Read the label carefully to make sure your vitamin isn’t packed with artificial fillers and additives.
• Make sure the amount per serving meets or exceeds the daily values recommended by the U.S. Government.
• In general, it is best to avoid vitamins that contain both calcium and iron. The reason for this is because iron can interfere with the absorption of calcium.
• Top multivitamins will never contain harmful ingredients, such as food dyes, genetically modified cornstarch, unhealthy sugars or synthetic ingredients.
• When choosing a children’s multivitamin, be sure to use the same guidelines that you would for yourself. Many manufacturers try to appeal to children by adding sugar to the product or through kid-friendly packaging. But just because the box looks attractive doesn’t mean the contents are best for your child. Be sure to read the ingredients carefully and assess if they are truly high quality.