What is a Multivitamin?
A multivitamin product is designed to provide essential nutrients in one place. Ideally, what they can contain is sufficient B vitamins, small amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and enough minerals like, chromium for blood sugar regulation, calcium and magnesium for bone health, and selenium and zinc for immune support.
Multivitamin and mineral products can be anywhere from one to nine pills a day, and are also available in liquid, and powders. It is generally recommended to use a multi where you’d take a few pills a day, a liquid, or a powder, rather than a one-a-day pill. This is because, given the size of one pill, no one-a-day can contain enough vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, or essential fatty acids needed by the body for a whole day.
Multivitamins that require three or more pills per day can provide closer to ideal amounts of vitamin C, E, calcium and magnesium, and often provide real food and/or superfood concentrates. Multivitamins that come in packets (around 6-8 pills) can also provide essential fatty acids, enzymes, and greens.
Multivitamins are now divided into multiple categories: prenatal, children, gender, and age.
The multivitamin formulas for men tend to have no iron but extra zinc, and formulas for women tend to have less zinc and more iron. The exception here is in formulas for women past menopause, who also get no iron in their multi, because it is currently believed that excessive, supplemented iron has been linked to heart disease in those who eat red meat and who are not menstruating. Extra zinc is found in men’s formulas because men have twice the zinc requirement of women.
A gender specific multivitamin, if it is three or more pills per day, may also have herbal concentrates to help with balancing hormones. An adult women’s formula may help with PMS, while a senior women’s formula would help with menopausal symptoms. A multivitamin for adult men may have extra herbal support for stress and the adrenals, while one for older men may have a prostate supportive.
Multivitamins for children may also be helpful, especially if they are finicky eaters. Children don’t need high doses like adults do, and there are a variety of choices available, from liquid, gummies, tablets, and capsules.
Prenatal multivitamins, or pregnancy multivitamins, have extra folic acid, and some formulas have extra ginger to aid with nausea.
It is important that multivitamins, like all isolated nutrients, be taken with food. This is in part, because isolated nutrients, even when combined with others, require many other nutrients for proper assimilation. Another reason it is beneficial to take multivitamins with food is that chewing real food releases digestive fluids, and enzymes, that help to properly digest the nutrients in the pills.