Your GP might tell you that you can get everything you need from a healthy diet yet Harvard researchers recommend that, “It is prudent that all adults should take daily vitamins.” The question of whether to add a daily multi into your healthcare routine is a hotly debated one, yet the evidence to date points towards it being a good move for your immediate and long term health. Think of it a bit like a nutrition insurance policy – it’s unlikely that your diet will always supply everything your body needs, especially during times of stress, so a daily multi can help to fill in the gaps when they appear.
Once you’ve decided whether or not to invest in a daily multi, the next step is to decide which one to take. Here’s our quick guide to choosing a multi that’s right for you:
What’s Most Important to You?
There’s absolutely no benefit to be gained from a pot of vitamins that sits in your cupboard, goes past its sell-by date then gets thrown away! If that sounds familiar and convenience is key for you, make sure you decide on a multi that will actually fit into your lifestyle before you invest. A one-a-day tablet is a good idea for this very reason – it’s much more convenient than popping multiple pills daily. You might also want to think about choosing a good all round formula that the whole household can share. These subtle differences may seem minimal but will help to ensure that your multi actually gets taken rather than just left untouched in the kitchen cupboard!
Here’s what to look for in a good all round multivitamin & mineral formula for the whole family:
• 1000 IU vitamin D3 – We now know that most people are low and will benefit from this daily maintenance level.
• Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) – This nutrient is key for energy production and often missing from general multis. Make sure you look out for methylcobalamin as this is the body ready form of this important nutrient.
• 5-MTHF – This is the body ready form of folic acid and the best way to supplement this important nutrient. Check this is the form your multi contains otherwise it may well be ineffective.
• Vitamin K2 – Works with vitamin D and is often missing from daily multis.
• Magnesium – An important nutrient that helps to support energy and balance stress and is often low in Western diets. Look for at least 25mg daily.
• Most general multivitamin & mineral formulas are suitable for children aged 12 and above - Children younger than this will likely need a specific children’s formula with a more targeted nutrient profile.
Whilst it’s possible to choose a very effective all round formula that the whole household can take, if you have a bit more time on your hands and want something that’s a bit more specific to your needs, a one-a-day gender specific formula is a great option.
Here’s what to look for in a gender-specific multivitamin & mineral formula:
• Iron free - Men’s nutritional needs for iron are lower than women’s and the diet will often supply optimal levels alone.
• Lycopene – An antioxidant nutrient found in rich supply in tomatoes that can help to support a healthy prostate and cardiovascular system
• Zinc and selenium to support male reproductive health
• Phytosterols to support balanced prostate and cardiovascular health
• Taurine for cardiovascular and energy support
• Iodine and selenium to support thyroid and reproductive health
• Broccoli extract and DIM (di-indolylmethane) – beneficial plant nutrients that can help to support hormone balance
• Pomegranate extract for healthy skin and antioxidant support
• Vitamin B6 & magnesium to support healthy hormonal balance
• Boron, vitamin D3 & vitamin K2 to support bone health
• Biotin to support healthy hair, skin and nails
Thinking of having a baby?
If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, are already pregnant or have just had a baby then a one-a-day targeted pregnancy multivitamin formula is perfect for you. Nutrient needs change during pregnancy so it’s a good idea to start taking a specialised multivitamin & mineral formula at least 3 months before conception to make sure your body is in tip top shape.
Here’s what to look for in a pregnancy multivitamin & mineral formula:
• Higher levels of calcium (100mg) and magnesium (50mg) than you might find in a standard multi in a 2:1 ratio for healthy bones and development during pregnancy
• 400 mcg folic acid (as 5-MTHF) – This is the body ready form of folic acid and the best way to supplement this important nutrient. Folic acid is a crucial nutrient, particularly at the point of conception hence why you should ideally be taking it for at least 3 months before you start trying for a baby
• Zinc – An essential nutrient for healthy cell division and foetal development
• Iron bisglycinate – Iron deficiency anaemia is common during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is an easily absorbed form that is easy on the digestive system to help support these extra needs
• Iodine – A mineral that’s commonly low in Western diets and particularly important for a baby’s brain development during pregnancy