Back to the Basics: Choose a Great Multivitamin

By Shannon Morehouse MA, CHHC

You may recall recent mainstream media hype, reporting that multivitamins are ineffective. Did you buy into that hype? We hope that you didn't. The study that the media extracted their conclusions from was supported by Big Pharma and used very cheap, low-grade, standard vitamins. When you take high-quality multivitamins, you can create a foundation for excellent health. Thousands of studies have concluded that multivitamins are beneficial. For example, in a 2002 study from the Harvard School of Medicine (published in the Journal of the American Medical Association), the authors reviewed 35 years worth of research on vitamins and chronic disease, concluding that every adult should take a multivitamin daily as a safe and inexpensive way to optimize health.

Whole vs. Standard Multivitamins

What's the difference between standard vitamins and wholefood multivitamins anyway? Standard (USP) vitamins are created by combining isolated nutrients to form a mirror of the naturally occurring vitamin. Standard vitamin processing often requires additives to bind the vitamin together. Many companies use harmful additives such as petroleum, formaldehyde, and artificial colors. They may also use types of inexpensive nutrients that are very difficult to absorb.

NutriNeeds' new Advanced Daily formula is a great standard multivitamin choice, with all of the most highly-absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals and added CoQ10 and grape-seed extract, among other beneficial nutrients. Whole-food vitamins are made from real food, for example, getting vitamin K from fermented soybeans and iodine from kelp. Some examples of whole-food vitamins that we carry are the Innate Response Formulas brand and New Chapter brand. Whole-food vitamins tend to be a little easier on the stomach. You will notice that whole-food multivitamins are more expensive because the ingredients are more expensive.

Women vs. Men

Okay ladies and gents, you know how different you are from the other sex, and so are your nutrient needs. Many vitamin companies develop formulas to address women-specific needs or men-specific needs. Women's formulas often have extra folate (especially important should pregnancy occur) and more calcium and magnesium (for bone health). Men's formulas sometimes have more selenium for prostate protection. Men's multivitamins generally do not have iron while women's multivitamins do; the reasoning behind this is that menstruating women lose iron when they bleed. You will also notice differences in supplemental nutrient blends that are added to women's vs. men's formulas. For example, women's formulas may have hair and skin blends while men's formulas will have a special prostate blend.

Aging Women & Men

As you age, your nutrient needs change. Iron is often removed in women's 40/50/55+ formulas and special hormonal support blends are added to support menopausal symptoms. More calcium and magnesium may be added to women's 40/50/55+ formulas as well to help prevent osteoporosis. In men's 40/50/55+ formulas, you will often find more B12 and folic acid for cognitive support. Men's 40/50/55+ formulas also tend to have added prostate support.