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Making Sense of Multivitamins

Filed Under: Vitamins and Minerals at 1:33 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Kidney BeansAbout a week ago, my sister’s roommate decided to add some nutrition to her life. She was going to do this with vitamins. Wandering through her parents’ home, she collected forgotten vials filled with various forms of supplements and tucked them into her bag. The morning after her collection, she took at least six different pills. She was sick for the rest of the day. Why? Specifically, it’s anybody’s guess, particularly since she’s not even sure which vitamins she ingested, but in general, it’s because she approached supplements without gathering information. Properly taking vitamins or a multivitamin involves understanding what you’re doing, and that starts with why.

In an ideal world, we would all eat perfectly balanced meals. Every day, our bodies would receive the exact amount of vitamins and minerals needed to function normally. We would have no deficiency concerns. Unfortunately, that world doesn’t exist. We consume excessive amounts of fat, sugar, salt, etc. and limited amounts of nutrients. To compensate, we have supplements. These pills complement our diets, making up what we fail to obtain from real food. They ensure that we have enough vitamins and minerals to aid growth, digestion and nerve function, use carbohydrates, fats and protein for energy, and keep our teeth and bones strong.  Without them, many of us, especially smokers, heavy drinkers, vegetarians, pregnant or postmenopausal women and restrictive dieters, would be woefully lacking.  Therefore, their presence is a good thing, but you have to make sure that you know how to take them, in addition to why.

Knowing how basically means knowing what. You need to know what you’re missing in order to take what you need. That’s where your doctor comes in handy. She can go over your diet with you, look at blood tests and analyze which vitamins and minerals are most needed in your life. Sadly, this will often be more than one. In the end, it will probably be easier to take one multivitamin rather than six or seven different pills, and that’s fine. Vitamin overdose is rare.  When you take a controlled multivitamin, you generally aren’t at risk; it’s the blindfolded vitamin/mineral cocktail that could cause problems. So, confidently opt for a multivitamin. However, be aware that these little guys aren’t so little. Many multivitamins are the size of kidney beans (as pictured above). It’s to be expected since they are packed with all sorts of nutrients (calcium and magnesium being the heaviest offenders) as well as fillers, binders, coating and disintegrating agents. All of it is necessary so that you can get your 100 percent daily values and not gag while doing it.  But, if the pills are too huge to handle consider chewable or liquid versions. They work just as well without the swallowing pain. Whatever you decide, do your research first, talk to your doctor and know what’s going into your body. Compensating for deficiencies should lead to improved health and nothing else.

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3 Responses to “Making Sense of Multivitamins”

  1. Latifa Jones says:

    woah that girl sounds like an idiot.

    hopefully this blog post will set her straight!

  2. Leonidas says:

    We can only hope, Latifa, that the blog saves her.

  3. Hale Vitamins says:

    The problem is that most Americans are uneducated when it comes to multivitamins. Consumers need to read the labels and ingredients found in each product. There are plenty of good websites that can lead you to the correct product.

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