by Autumn Enloe MS, RD, LD, CLT
Despite our best intentions, it’s easy to fall short on meeting our daily nutrient needs.
That’s why taking a daily multivitamin is so helpful (1).
While supplements should never replace a balanced diet, taking a daily multivitamin does a great job of filling in your nutrient gaps.
A popular trend is to take are one-per-day multivitamins, but there’s a variety of problems with these types of supplements.
The Problems With One-Per-Day Multivitamins:
There are several problems with one-per-day multivitamins. We'll dig into the top problems below.
1. You Can't Fit Everything You Need Into 1 Capsule
First off, fitting all your nutrient needs into one small capsule is impossible.
A typical capsule holds 750 milligrams of powder.
This is a tiny amount.
How can every important nutrient fit into one small pill?
The simple answer is that it can’t.
Either you leave out important ingredients, or you under-dose every ingredient.
This leaves you with an ineffective supplement that you’d probably be better off throwing in the trash.
In comparison, a high-quality multivitamin will recommend taking several capsules daily, up to 6 capsules per day.
Having multiple capsules allows you to get all of the needed nutrients at the right doses.
2. You End Up Taking All of Your Nutrients All At Once
Second, one-per-day multivitamins are ineffective because you get all of the nutrients at once.
This is problematic due to the fact that your body needs time to digest and utilize each nutrient.
This is why it’s best to space out your multivitamin intake throughout the day.
For instance, take 3 in the morning, and 3 at night.
This allows you time to absorb each nutrient, without nutrient interference.
3. Synthetic Ingredients
Third, one-per-day multivitamins don’t contain whole food ingredients, they rely on synthetic forms of the nutrients instead.
Cheap, synthetic nutrients are hard to absorb and do little for your health.
A better option is to go with a multivitamin that contains whole food sources.
For instance, our Essentially-U multi-vitamin contains a food-based blend of fruits and vegetables. This ensures that you get optimal nutrient absorption.
If you’re already taking a multivitamin, make sure to get the most out of it.
The Reason For Taking A Multivitamin
Most people fall short on meeting their daily nutrient needs, this happens for a couple of reasons.
First, Western Diet (common in the USA) contains high amounts of processed foods. Processed foods are stripped of important nutrients, especially minerals.
Even if you ate perfectly all the time, it would still be nearly impossible to get your required nutrients from food alone.
Second, gut health issues and stress can impact how well your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you consume.
If your gut isn’t working properly, your body won’t be able to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food that you eat.
Third, the nutrients in our soil have been declining for the past 50-100 years, which means there are fewer nutrients in the foods we eat (2).
For instance, the magnesium content in the soil in the US has greatly declined over the last 50 years, leaving an estimated two-thirds of the population deficient (3).
Taking a multivitamin with minerals (like our Essentially-U) is a great way to meet both your vitamin AND mineral requirements.
What to Look for in a Multivitamin:
When choosing a multivitamin, there’s a variety of factors to consider.
First, look at what nutrients are included.
The key nutrients that should always be included in a multivitamin are (4):
-Vitamin D: important for calcium absorption, brain health, and immunity. Look for one with at least 1,000 IU in the form of Vitamin D3
-Magnesium: needed for over 300 biochemical processes in the body including nerve and muscle regulation, and blood sugar and blood pressure support. Look for at least 200 mg in an easy to digest chelate form.
-Folate: plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells, and is especially important during pregnancy. Aim for at least 400 mcg in a fully methylated form (with Quatrefolic ® being the best form)..
-B12 : is critical for DNA formation, and keeping blood cells healthy. Look for a supplement with at least 200 mcg in the form of methylcobalamin.
-K2: involved in blood clotting, calcium absorption, and heart health. Aim for at least 50 mcg of MK-7 form of K2 (MenaQ7®).
Along with the nutrients a multivitamin provides, looking at the quality of the supplement is especially important.
Due to the lack of regulation in the supplement industry, it’s best to look for a supplement that has been 3rd party tested.
This means the supplement is tested for quality from an outside party and is verified to contain the ingredients it says it contains, and nothing else (5).
Another important factor when choosing a multivitamin is to look for branded ingredients.
Branded ingredients are specialized ingredients that have additional research showing their effectiveness.
- Cranmax® (cranberry extract)
- AroniaPURE® (aronia berry extract)
- TrueBroc® (broccoli seed extract)
- MenaQ7® (vitamin K2)
Are Multivitamins Safe?
Research has found multivitamins are safe, as long as you take as directed and use a high-quality supplement.
When it comes to taking supplements, more of a nutrient isn’t always a good thing.
For example, taking too much of fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A or E, can be toxic when taken in excess.
In addition, if you’re taking any medications or dealing with serious health concerns, it’s best to work with a healthcare provider to ensure certain nutrients aren’t interacting with medications or other supplements you’re taking.
Multivitamins should never replace a balanced diet, and taking a one-per-day Multivitamin is not the best option for filling in nutrient gaps.
Diet is primary, supplements are secondary.
When considering taking a multivitamin, verify the quality of the brand and whether or not it has the right amount of nutrients you need.