Designed for people whose diets don’t meet all of their nutritional needs, multiple vitamin–mineral supplements (“multivitamins”) are convenient nutrient combinations, usually taken one to six times per day.
While it’s generally agreed that a healthy diet is the best foundation for health, everyday life makes that goal challenging for many people. So, some people supplement in hope of preventing disease-causing deficiencies and providing higher nutrient amounts than they can get through diet alone, which may help prevent or manage certain diseases.
What’s the best multivitamin for me?
Multivitamins are available as a powder inside a hard-shell pull-apart capsule, as a liquid inside a soft-gelatin capsule, or hard-pressed as tablets that may be chewed or swallowed. Common products on the market include
- Low-potency/one-a-day multiples. These mixtures often contain 100% of the daily requirements for most vitamins and some minerals that many people require. However, they do not provide enough to make up for deficiencies or other therapeutic amounts. For example, people eating a Western diet may be deficient in minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which one-a-days may not help correct.
- High-potency multiples These mixtures may provide higher amounts of desired nutrients sometimes designed to support particular health goals, such as heart health. To evenly distribute nutrition to the body, these are convenient combination products usually designed to be taken as caplets or tablets in divided doses, depending on the formula.
Omega 3 from algae versus fish
- Timed-releaseSome healthcare professionals assume that releasing vitamins and minerals slowly into the body over a period of time is better than releasing them all at once. However, except for some studies showing better absorption of time-released vitamin C, this assumption has not been well studied and some concerns have been raised about the safety of the chemical agents used to cause the timed release
- VegetarianMost capsules are made from animal gelatin, so vegetarians need to carefully read supplement labels to ensure they are getting a vegetarian product.