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A Complete Guide to Multivitamins

Multivitamins are a great way to ensure your body has the vitamins and minerals it needs. Use our complete guide to multivitamins to help you pick the right one.

By 1MD Editorial Staff

0 minute read

Last Updated April 20, 2022

A Complete Guide to Multivitamins

In a perfect world, we would get all of the nutrients we needed from food. In reality, life gets in the way. Whether it is finances, lack of time, or age-related changes to your body, getting the nutrients you need can be a daily challenge. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Your health is in your hands, or more accurately, your health is in the 37 trillion cells in your body. The cells that need essential nutrients to keep you healthy. And when your daily diet cannot deliver these, you can count on a daily multivitamin to pick up the nutritional slack.

What Are Multivitamins?

Multivitamins are once-daily nutritional support containing essential vitamins and minerals. They can vary in price, quality, content, and form. Typically multivitamins are found in tablets, soft gels, capsules, or powder. Tablets and capsules are often the most affordable option but can be hard to swallow. Powders are easily digested, easy to mix into your favorite drink, and an easy way to get nutrients on the go.

The amounts of vitamins and minerals within each multivitamin are close to the daily recommended amounts a healthy person should get each day. Take a look at your multivitamin label to see what percentage of the daily value (%DV) you are getting. Recommended daily values vary by age, sex, and health, but most multivitamins are designed to ensure the body gets what it needs when diet falls short. 

Some people take both multivitamins and supplements to support overall health, which means they are not the same thing. Multivitamins contain multiple vitamins and minerals for whole-body health, whereas supplements will typically only contain one for more targeted support. If your doctor has advised that you are lacking in one specific vitamin, a supplement can help maintain sufficient levels of that vitamin. But, if you are looking to maintain overall health or are living with dietary restrictions, multivitamins will have all your bases covered.

Healthy, nutritious Buddha bowl

Why Do We Need To Take Multivitamins?

Ideally, every daily diet would consist of plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthful fats. But, in reality, not everyone manages to eat such a healthy diet. A recent report from the U.S Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee identified that the average American diet is not a sufficient source of essential nutrients for most people.

What does this mean for you? It means essential nutrients may be missing from your diet. But, the good news is that by adding a complete multivitamin to your day, you can still get the nutrients you need:

  • Water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins 
  • Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K 
  • Major minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus

Vitamins and minerals are essential for overall health, serving as raw materials that support multiple functions in your body, including:

Nourished Gut: B vitamins and zinc support gut lining health, vitamin C aids proper digestive processes, iron supports gut microbiome health, and magnesium helps reduce typical oxidative stress in the gut. 

Happy Heart: Vitamins A, C, and E help relieve occasional oxidative stress, while some B vitamins support healthy cholesterol levels to benefit overall heart health.

♦ Strong Bones: Vitamins D and K, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium help support proper bone mineralization and strength.

Active Immunity: Vitamins A, C, and E provide antioxidant support and help promote healthy immune responses, while zinc supports healthy immune cell function.

Healthy Brain: B vitamins help promote healthy brain tissue function, vitamin C reduces typical oxidative stress, and calcium and magnesium support neural activity and cognitive functions, including memory. 

Diets based on calories

How To Take Multivitamins for Maximum Benefit

You wake up rested and ready for the day but need the right fuel to get and keep you going. This makes breakfast the perfect time to feed your body all the nutrients it needs. This is why multivitamins, regardless of the type, are designed to be taken daily, ideally in the morning. 

Most multivitamins should be taken with food as a way to stimulate digestion and support proper absorption of the nutrients. Not only does this ensure that these valuable nutrients get where they are needed, but it also helps to reduce occasional stomach upset that may occur when taking certain vitamins and minerals.

For maximum benefits, take your multivitamin daily. The amounts of each included vitamin and mineral are based on a daily 2000-calorie diet, and you should always take them according to the directions provided on the label unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Always speak with your doctor before taking a multivitamin alongside other supplements to ensure you are not getting too much of any one nutrient. 

How To Choose the Right Multivitamin

All multivitamins are not created equal. They will vary in the vitamins and minerals and amounts included. Based on your doctor’s recommendations, you want to look for a multivitamin that provides the nutrients you may be missing from your diet and one that compliments your health and lifestyle. A complete multivitamin will include a broad range of nutrients and no unnecessary fillers or additives.

Variety is key, so look for both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins as well as the key minerals for overall health. Check the label to find the amount per serving and %DV, so you will know how much of each nutrient you are getting and how this amount relates to the FDA-recommended daily amount. Ideally, you want to choose a multivitamin with values as close to 100 percent of the DV as possible.

You can also choose a multivitamin based on your specific needs. For example, women require more calcium as a result of normal bone density loss associated with aging and very specific nutrients when pregnant and nursing, while men require higher levels of vitamin D to support hormone production. It is also recommended that adults over the age of 50 get more B12 because the body’s ability to absorb this from food can begin to slow with age. The right multivitamin will be the one that meets your nutrient needs.

Possible Side Effects

Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients because they perform hundreds of roles in the body. But, there is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients, which is healthy, and getting too much, which can be harmful. Excessive doses of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to possible side effects such as headache, nausea, and upset stomach.

Woman reading a leaflet about side effects

If your typical diet is already well-balanced and nutrient-rich, you want to take care with multivitamins as some nutrients can build up and become harmful. Before starting any multivitamin, speak with your doctor because depending on the category of nutrients, possible side effects can be more serious when consumed in doses that exceed the upper daily limit.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

These dissolve easily in water and are broken down during digestion. While some water-soluble vitamins can stay in the body for longer periods of time, most are excreted when not used, meaning these cannot accumulate in the body or be taken in excess. Your body will use what it needs and get rid of the rest.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

These vitamins can stick around. They dissolve in fat, are carried through the body by carrier proteins, and then are stored away in liver and fat tissues. This means they can stay in the body for long periods of time, and unhealthy levels can build up. These are the guys you want to keep an eye on when checking multivitamin labels.

Minerals

These inorganic elements can accumulate if taken in excess, and some can be potentially harmful. This is especially true for trace minerals like copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. The body requires only a small amount for proper function, and mineral balance is important. High levels of one can cause a shortcoming in another, so always speak with your doctor about recommended mineral quantities before starting a multivitamin.

Depending on nutrient dosages and your health, it can be safe to take multivitamins along with other supplements. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor and use only as directed to maintain proper health. You also need to consult your doctor if you have allergies, long-term health conditions, or are pregnant or nursing before starting a multivitamin regimen.

The Ultimate All-In-One SuperFood Drink

Life does get in the way at times, making it hard to get the nutrients your body needs. But, that doesn’t mean you have to go without. As part of your daily routine, CardioFitMD™ can make sure you get the nutrients and superfoods that will keep your body going strong all day, every day. 

All you need is 12 fl oz of water and one scoop of CardioFitMD™ superfood drink mix. Not only will you get a broad-spectrum fiber, prebiotic blend, and potent beetroot powder, but you also get 20 essential vitamins and minerals, including 100% (or more) of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of the top 10 most prevalent vitamin and mineral deficiencies facing Americans today. 

For optimal heart, digestive, and immune health, weight management support, and active energy every day, CardioFitMD™ is the ultimate, all-in-one daily nutrition drink that will give you the power to easily take control of your heart and whole-body health.

The Bottom Line

A multivitamin is a daily guarantee that your body will get the essential nutrients it needs for optimal performance and health. A multivitamin makes a great supporting addition to your daily health routine but should not be the main source of your nutrients. 

Your daily routine should include a balanced diet, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices for maximum health benefits. And, just in case you don’t get all that you need from your diet, your multivitamin will be there to back you up.