Choosing the Right Multivitamin

There are very few multivitamins that I fully endorse. Most of them can be immediately discounted based on poor forms of the contained nutients or additives that do not promote health. Some common offenders:

1. FD&C dyes. Commonly seen in the popular, over-the-counter once daily multis.

2. Vitamin E as dl-alpha tocopherol. Vitamin E is actually a complex of multiple different vitamins. The alpha part of this common version means it contains only one of the vitamin E's. The 'dl' designation means it is synthetic. Always look for mixed tocopherols as part of a good multivitamin.

3. Magnesium oxide. This seems to be poorest absorbed form and may lead to digestive disturbance. Look other magnesium complexes including magnesium glycinate.

4. Calcium carbonate. This form of calcium is hard to digest as well and may also lead to digestive upset and/or constipation. Look for citrate or malate forms. 

Also realize that the need for a multivitamin is more one of insurance policy than it is replacement for a poor diet. Based on the quality level of your nutrition, you may decide to use a multivitamin for added support or to help fill gaps in your nutrition. Maybe the full serving size is not needed, and only half of the recommended intake will suffice. 

Some other important items to look for in your multivitamin:

1. Folic acid. Too many of us do not have the proper genetics to convert folic acid into its active form. For this reason, supplementing regular folic acid can be problematic and the L-5-tetrahydrofolate form is ideal.

2. Whole foods sources. Look for a multivitamin that sources many of the nutrients from natural, food-based sources.

3. Vitamin K2. Many multis do not contain the beneficial form of this vitamin that continues to grow in importance as more research pours in. Vitamin K2 is going to be the next vitamin D. 

Contributed by:

Dr. Jeffrey Gladd


Dr. Jeffrey Gladd graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2001. He then went on to train in family medicine...

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Dr. Jeffrey Gladd
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