People often ask about taking vitamins to help optimize their nutrition and to prevent illnesses or deficiencies.  Generally, adding vitamins is a good idea, since these are sources beyond their typical diet that may ‘fill in the gaps’, so to speak, in areas that we may be lacking adequate nutrients. Resent findings in nutrition suggest that supplementing with a multivitamin is prudent and may help adults and children generally fair better and show lower mortality rates.  In one study, 300 healthy children were divided into two groups that took a chocolate beverage, however, only one group had vitamins added to the drink containing B-vitamins such as B-12, folate and Vitamin C.   After 120 days, the children receiving the vitamin supplement showed enhanced micronutrient status as well as improved aerobic capacity.

Are Multivitamins Safe?

Generally, multivitamins have a remarkable track record of safety, especially compared to prescribed medications.  Several deaths in children have been reported who consuming too much of a multivitamin containing iron. In 2010 within the US,  71,000 reported exposures to various vitamin formulations resulted in 15 major reactions but no deaths; while in the same year, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths.  Although, life-threatening reactions or associated deaths from taking a multivitamin is extremely rare, it is prudent to check with your physician if you are on medication prior to using a new product to reduce the risk of an adverse reaction.

What Type of Multivitamins Are Best?

People want to know not only what types of multivitamins are effective but the amount of vitamins they should take.  An independent group of scientists have made available information on multivitamins at  www.multivitaminguide.org  Refer to this link for a detailed rating of the quality and effectiveness of the available multivitamins. Surprisingly, the most widely marketed vitamins such as Centrum and One-A-Day are rated below what is recommended.  And the cheapest vitamins found at the large discount stores, like Wal-Mart, have the lowest ratings and are unlikely to be a significant help in providing quality nutrients.  So, some vitamin supplements are well worth buying and some are what doctors often say ‘a waste of money’; it depends on what you are getting.

One quick way to tell if the multivitamin product was designed primarily ‘for the sale’ rather than as a quality source of nutrition is the type of minerals it contains. For example, if it contains magnesium as an ‘oxide’ instead the “chelated” form (or linked to an amino acid) such as magnesium malate or glycinate, it may not be a quality product.  The oxide form is a cheaper form which is less useful to the cells.