What Should I Consider When Choosing a Multivitamin?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 06 January 2020
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Multivitamins are available in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders, liquids, and chewables. They can be taken in a single daily dose or spread out throughout the day. A multivitamin can also be found in a variety of combinations and potencies. When choosing a multivitamin, your first priority is to make sure it provides at least 100 percent of the eight essential vitamins: thiamine or B-1, riboflavin or B-2, niacin or B-3, B-6, B-12, D, E, and folic acid.

It's also important to limit the ingestion of certain vitamins that can be toxic in large dosages. This is the case with vitamin A, which has been found to increase the risk of hip fractures when more than 4,300 international units (IU) are taken daily. Beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, is a good alternative and does not carry the same risks. The same is true of Vitamin C. An excess can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.


A good multivitamin should also provide a minimum of minerals. This includes chromium, copper, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. You should get at least 50% of these minerals from your multivitamin, as the rest is most likely provided by your diet. Magnesium, in particular, can be obtained from whole-grains and may not require supplementation. Calcium is better taken separately, as the daily recommended levels are too large to be contained a single pill, and you may be shortchanging your body if you depend on your multivitamin alone.

Price is usually a reflection of quality when it comes to buying a multivitamin. The major problem with cheap vitamins is that they're usually full of fillers such as starches and silica. A high-quality multivitamin is usually all-natural and does not contain fillers.

Lastly, make sure you read the label thoroughly. Look for the words laboratory tested and quality guaranteed. This means all ingredients have been tested for potency, contamination, and other industry standards, such as analysis for salmonella and E. coli. It also assures the buyer that the ingredients listed on the label are actually in the multivitamin. Also look for an expiration date. Multivitamins are guaranteed to retain their potency past their expiration date.

Things to avoid include "timed-released" vitamins, which have no true impact on absorption; and phosphorus, which we already get enough of from our diets. A word of caution: while a multivitamin may also contain iron, this supplement is better avoided. Most people obtain all the iron they need from foods. Those who suffer from anemia should consult their doctor, who can recommend an appropriate iron supplement.



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Post 2

Who in their right mind would want a full dose of K+ in a multivitamin?

Potassium is a very important mineral that needs to be balanced with magnesium and sodium.

You better be suffering from hypokalemia to request this. If not, you need to re-evaluate the sources of your medical advice.

Post 1

Is there any possible way to get a full dose of potassium? Not even supplements give you a big percentage of your recommended daily allowance.

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