We can plan our meals to the T and map out a program to stay on the most discriminating of diets, but sometimes we can still fall short of getting all of the nutrients our bodies need. This is where taking a daily vitamin can be both beneficial and necessary. Not intended to correct a bad diet, supplements provide added support for a healthy immune system and have been found to reduce risks for diseases and potentially reduce risk for heart attack.
It is important, however, to use discretion before purchasing the first multi-vitamin you find on the shelf at your local health food store as not all daily supplements are created equal. Most importantly, vitamins aren’t required to undergo any testing nor are they regulated for safety by the Food and Drug Administration.
Manufacturers are free to produce supplemental products however they see fit and only come under scrutiny if the product is deemed unsafe after it has been released on the market.
To stay safe and reap the benefits of a daily multivitamin, here are our tips for selecting the right supplement:
- Avoid vitamins that provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of any mineral or vitamin to reduce your risk for overdosing. Remember, our food already provides plenty of natural vitamins and minerals.
- Steer clear of vitamins that contain “flow agents” or “hydrogenated oils” which taint the purity of your vitamin. Also read labels for preservatives, dyes or allergens like gluten and lactose before purchasing.
- Choose a vitamin that is based on a food source or is chewable that will be absorbed by the body. Many vitamin supplements can be made with ingredients found in nature that we don’t consume on a daily basis and will essentially not be recognized by the body and immediately discarded when we urinate. Don’t waste your money or your time.
- Select a supplement that has no more than 3,000 – 3,500 International Units (IUs) of retinol or vitamin A to prevent overdosing.
- Look for the United States Pharmacopeia, a third-party, independent verification service for supplement manufacturers to limit the introduction of potential adulterants and contaminants.
Do you have a rule of thumb for selecting your multivitamin?