Modern society has become obsessed with supplements, yet the truth is that one doesn’t have to take a cabinet full of these to ensure good health.
First and foremost, we need to ensure that we get most of our essential nutrients from the food we eat. Instead of spending thousands on supplements, we should rather invest on stocking our fridges and pantries correctly. Once this is done then we only need to top up our nutrient intake with an exceptionally good multivitamin.
A quality multivitamin provides a solid foundation for one’s health and is recommended, especially for specific groups of people such as those who suffer from serious illnesses, digestive problems, the elderly, pregnant women and those on restrictive diets.
However, with so many vitamin and mineral combos on the market, how does one make an informed decision on a multivitamin? According to experts there are seven key nutrients that a good multivitamin contains.
This vitamin helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is beneficial for bone health. A lack of vitamin D can also result in a low immune system, hair loss and bone pain. While the natural source of this vitamin is sunlight (15 minutes to sun exposure is enough for a daily dose), given the indoor, sedentary lifestyle so many of us live today this is not always possible. As this vitamin is also hard to come by in food ensure that the multivitamin you choose has 600 IU of vitamin D per day (children and adults) and up to 800 IU for the elderly.
Having enough of this nutrient is key to overall good health. Zinc supports our immune system, assists in wound healing and assists our bodies use carbohydrates, protein, and fat for energy. Modern-day Western diets are not rich in this nutrient, and the body is unable to store it, so it goes without saying that it is crucial to have this nutrient in a multivitamin. Experts recommend a multivitamin containing 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Zinc which for women is 8mg and 11mg for men.
Magnesium is crucial for bone health and energy production. It can also assist with stress reduction, balancing blood sugar, muscle function and with the production of protein, bone and DNA. Although many foods have natural Magnesium, a good multivitamin should also offer a substantial amount. The recommended daily dose for an adult is between 300 – 320mg.
Ever since we were small, we have heard how important calcium (and the foods that contain it) are important for us. Well, nothing has changed. Unfortunately, almost half of modern-day society does not ingest enough calcium which puts bone and teeth health at risk. The recommended amount of calcium per day is 500 – 700mg for most adults and a quality multivitamin should provide at least one third of this.
Iron is essential for energy, brain function and during times of rapid growth and development and must be ingested daily. This is however a tricky nutrient as not everyone needs the same amount. Individuals who eat red meat usually get enough, however the RDA of 18mg for adults increases for pregnant and menstruating women. Vegans and individuals who do not eat red meat, may also need to supplement with iron, but as too much iron may can have adverse effects medical advice should be sought before deciding.
Also known as Folate, this nutrient is especially important for growth and development. So, it goes without saying that it is not only essential for pregnant women, but also for regular bodily functions such as hair and nail growth. It also assists with combating depression and inflammation. Four hundred micrograms (400 mcg) is the recommended RDA for adults.
Most of us are aware of how important the B-vitamin complex is because it works in unison to break down the micronutrients we ingest to create and sustain energy. Vitamin B-12 also helps maintain nerve and blood cells healthy and assists with DNA production. Individuals who do not eat animal-based products (such as vegans) are prone to be deficient in this nutrient and should consider a multivitamin with this complex. The RDA for adults is less than 3 mcg.