Part 3 of a 3-part multivitamin series
So you’re convinced you need to take a multivitamin… or maybe you’re already taking one. With so many options to choose from, how do you know which one is best? And how do you know for sure you’re getting the most value out of multivitamin you’ve decided to add to your daily routine?
One a Day? No Way!
If you’re going to spend the time and money to get into this routine, avoid these common multivitamin mistakes:
- Taking only one per day when the daily dose is more. Certain nutrients will not be present in the amount most commonly needed on a daily basis if you skimp on the portion. For instance, folate, which is necessary for preventing neural tube defects in newborns is usually targeted at 400-800 mcg/day, but if you’re skimping on the dose, you’ll only get a fraction of the intended daily dose.
- Taking “one-a-day” multivitamins. There is simply no way absorbable, quality forms of vitamins and minerals can be crammed into one capsule or tablet in a sufficient amount (unless it’s a huge horse pill). Choose instead at least a 3 or 4 per day multivitamin.
- Vitamins create energy and are best taken at breakfast and lunch. Taking them with dinner may contribute to insomnia in some people. If breakfast and dinner are the only times you WILL take your multi, and this doesn’t interfere with sleep, go for it!
- B vitamins and vitamin C are all water-soluble, so for best results, split between breakfast and lunch (or breakfast and dinner if this is tolerable).
- Unless you are menstruating or have a proven need for iron, don’t take a multivitamin that contains iron. Excess iron causes oxidative stress and increases cardiovascular and other risks.
- Buying a multivitamin based solely on price practically guarantees you will be taking the lowest quality versions of the vitamins and minerals it contains. You don’t choose the cheapest cuts of meat, the cheapest clothes, or the cheapest car you can find, so when it comes to your health, don’t choose the cheapest multivitamin. There’s a reason it’s cheap.
- Choosing a multivitamin based on non-significant extras such as COQ10, enzymes, probiotics or similar ingredients. There is rarely a high enough dose of these to make any difference in overall health…remember you can only fit so much into those capsules/tablets.
- Taking children’s chewables because you hate to swallow pills means you will only get a fraction of what an adult body requires, and likely some other additives you don’t want, such as sugars and food colorings.
Aside from a multivitamin, most people should take the following:
- Calcium is a MACRO-mineral (meaning we need large amounts) necessary for neurotransmitter signaling, muscle contraction, bone health and more. Steer clear of calcium carbonate, which is essentially sidewalk chalk. This form of calcium is difficult to absorb, so it can end up in places you don’t want it (plaque, kidney stones, bone spurs). TUMS and the tasty, chocolate calcium chews that I’ve seen all contain carbonate (along with unnecessary sugars). See tips in my last post for better forms of calcium to choose from.
- Unless you regularly consume wild-caught, cold water fish and/or high omega-3 eggs, you should include fish oil in your daily regimen. Nuts and seeds are sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another important omega-3 that your body cannot make, but research shows most people don’t convert ALA into EPA and DHA (found in fish oil), so it’s best to include sources of both. Generally speaking, fish oil blends that are higher in DHA support brain health, and blends higher in EPA are aimed more at anti-inflammatory and circulatory support. Word of caution: don’t be a bargain hunter when it comes to fish oil. You take more grams of fish oil than anything else in a foundation regimen, and cheaper sources are less likely to be filtered for heavy metals and PCBs, and are more likely to have been handled or stored improperly, causing rancidity. Taking in rancid oils is worse than taking none!
- You most likely need vitamin D – unless you spend 20 minutes 3 times weekly in the sun during peak hours with arms and legs exposed (wearing NO sunscreen). This is particularly true if you live in Ohio. I have found most Ohioans need around 5000 (yes, thousand) IU daily to maintain optimal serum levels of 60-80 ng/mL. Current serum lab reference ranges don’t reflect the OPTIMAL range that studies indicate for vitamin D’s protective effects against cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune disease, depression and bone health. The best form to take is D3 and it’s easily and inexpensively obtained over the counter.
- Antioxidants are a must, particularly if you aren’t consistent with fruits and veggies. Opt for caps or powder if you have blood sugar imbalance or are attempting to lose weight since juices are loaded with sugar. Some of our favorites are turmeric, EGCG (green tea extract), resveratrol, ellagic acid and vitamins A, C and E.
- Once or twice yearly (or more often based on specific needs) it’s good to go through a bottle of probiotics. This will keep the colonization of good flora in your gut varied and strong. Good gut flora are responsible for 50% of your vitamin K production, contribute to optimal levels of several of your B vitamins and constitute more than 70% of your immune response. Make sure you are taking at least 15 billion per day, and that there is an array of strains listed, including some lactobacillus (specific to the small intestine) and some bifidobacteria (specific to the large intestine).
And remember – testing is the best way to determine specific individual needs.
Test and Test Again!
As you may have heard us say, we recommend lab testing to establish a variety of baselines by which to measure your progress over time.
Once you have built a good foundational protocol, consider double-checking the specific products you’ve chosen after 3-4 months by doing micronutrient testing.
Personally, I was surprised to find that there were a handful of specific nutrients I wasn’t taking in a sufficient amount. I noted several improvements in my general health and wellbeing when I tweaked my protocol to account for my individual nutrient needs.
Several doctors in the Columbus area now offer this testing, which is available through SpectraCell Laboratories, and is covered by most major insurances with a copay. Check out the Leaves of Life webite for our lab testing menu for more info on the options we offer and what practitioners we can put you in touch with.
Wishing you vibrant health!
Copyright Patty Shipley. All rights reserved.