If you've ever sat in a drug store staring at rows of multivitamins trying to figure out which one you should get, you aren't alone. Many people choose multivitamins for a little added health insurance or the promise of more energy. And, a multi can potentially help your energy levels and make up for dietary shortfalls. The nutrients in a good multivitamin might also enhance your looks.
What Is A Multivitamin?
The term multivitamin refers to a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement (sometimes abbreviated MVMM). A multivitamin should contain all of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy (especially those we typically don't get in our diet). However, each multivitamin may be quite different.
A Multivitamin Should Contain All Of The Vitamins And Minerals To Stay Healthy.
Some contain added antioxidants or other compounds or mega doses of certain vitamins. Others are formulated specifically for certain age (or age and sex) or life stage category such as children, seniors or pregnant women.
The % Daily Value (DV) listed for each vitamin and mineral is based on established standards of how much the average person (in a particular life category) needs each day. Percent Daily Values also make it easy to compare different food and supplement products based on their macronutrients and micronutrients.
What's Up With Multipacks?
Turn over any single tablet multivitamin and you'll find that it doesn't contain 100% of every vitamin and mineral listed (yet some contain a few thousand percent of other nutrients). Why? Some of the minerals are bulky. Add 100% DV for both calcium and magnesium to one tablet and you'll end up with a horse pill. Aside from these two minerals, one-tablet multivitamins often fall short on the vitamin biotin as well.
Multipacks, the supplements that have you take a little packet of pills at specific times of the day, can help you meet 100% DV of all vitamins and minerals because the bulky minerals come in their own tablets and the minerals are spaced out to maximize absorption. For instance, multipacks will space calcium throughout the day since our body can maximally absorb about 500 mg at a time (take more and your absorption past that initial 500 mg will decrease).
Single Tablet Multivitamins
Pick The Best Multivitamin For You
The multipacks are great, yet I personally opt for one single tablet and supplement as needed with other nutrients. If you are like me and just want one main tablet to take daily, choose one that contains 100% of the following:
- Vitamin A
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E (preferably as mixed tocopherols)
Skip the ones with mega doses of antioxidants or compounds that you aren't sure how they benefit your health. Though antioxidants are good, get them from your food (colorful fruits and vegetables). Large quantities of certain antioxidants in pill form could end up acting as pro-oxidants in your body (wreaking their own havoc versus mopping up the havoc caused by environmental and other assaults on your cells).
Antioxidants In Pill Form
The Multivitamin Can Enhance Your Looks Because It Contains ///
Promotes cell and tissue growth and protects skin from infection. Multivitamins should contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body (and is less toxic than vitamin A).
Play a critical role in the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein and help convert food into energy your body can use. The B vitamins are a great team. They work together well and therefore, it is best to take them together (versus individually supplementing with specific B vitamins).
Helps produce collagen, the protein found in connective tissue (skin, cartilage, tendons etc.). Vitamin C keeps capillary and blood vessel walls firm (hello, no spider veins!), helps prevent bruising and keeps gum and skin tissue healthy.
Vitamin C Helps Produce Collagen.
Biotin is one of the vitamins commonly found in skin, hair and nail supplements. Deficiencies are considered rare (your body produces it from intestinal bacteria). However, deficiencies can lead to dry skin and seborrheic dermatitis in adults.
Biotin may also play a role in the treatment or prevention of hair loss. When it comes to biotin, eggs might be one of the most interesting foods. The yolks are rich in biotin but raw egg whites contain a protein that binds biotin preventing its absorption. The moral of the story - don't eat raw egg whites.
It is nearly impossible to meet the Recommended Dietary Intake for vitamin E through food intake alone (unless that food is fortified with vitamin E), so supplementation is a viable option. If possible, choose a supplement that contains "mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols" versus only alpha tocopherol.
Keeps teeth strong (bones too).
Does more than make hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying protein in your blood). It also plays a role in collagen synthesis.
Egg Yolks Are Rich In Biotin.
Additional Tips To Enhance Your Looks
- Use sunscreen that contains either zinc or Mexoryl as one of the main active ingredients. If you want a tan, opt for a spray tan. UVA and UVB rays from the sun or tanning booths increase your risk of skin cancer and skin that resembles old shoe leather.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of water every day (or brewed black, green, white or oolong tea).
- Go to a good dermatologist and ask how you can look better - dermatologists can weed through the best products for your skin or procedures that may help.
- Buy new in style clothes; get your hair cut (and get rid of the outdated style and dull color). You never know who you are going to meet when you walk out of your house.
Drink Plenty Of Water Every Day.
Most people do not meet their vitamin and mineral needs through food alone. Some nutrients, like copper and vitamin D, aren't in many foods and people tend to eat the same 20-30 foods each week versus going for variety (and therefore a variety of nutrients). A multivitamin can help you meet your nutrient needs. And, several nutrients play an important role in how you look. If you don't like tablets, opt for a chewable or liquid multivitamin or choose a protein powder that contains the nutrients you need.