Let’s Talk Nutrition-Accompanying Video here:
This post is going to be an introduction to the world of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The title question is do I need a Multi-Vitamin? Answer, yeah, probably you do. Vitamins and Minerals are essential for our overall health. Vitamins and minerals help boost our immune system, heal wounds/injuries, and generate new cells and tissues on a daily basis. Sometimes, when you are on the go, it can be challenging to meet all of your Vitamin and Mineral needs from your diet.
One problem, ever take a look at the Supplement/Vitamin section at your local Super Market or Pharmacy?? Which one to pick?
To help you find the best answer for you, let’s go back to a topic from previous posts: food manufacturing and processing. If you recall the post about reading a nutrition label and about vegetable oils, the less processed a food is, and the more you understand the ingredients, probably the better it is for you. The same is true for Supplements and Vitamins.
Let’s take a look at a sample label of a Multi-Vitamin:
Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E). Contains <2% Of: Acacia, Beta-Carotene, BHT, Biotin, Boric Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Calcium Stearate, Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin, (Vit. B12), FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Stannous Chloride, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May Also Contain <2% Of: Ascorbyl Palmitate, Maltodextrin, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil.
Wow, are you confused yet? I sure am. Let’s pick out one of the confusing names and analyze what it actually is: “Microcrystalline Cellulose” is essentially refined wood pulp and is used as a texturizer, an anti-caking agent, and a bulking agent in food production. The most common form is used in vitamin supplements or tablets…basically to help bind tablets together. Yummy, right? If I was going to take a supplement like this, I would want to do my own research on all of these mystery ingredients, as well as the manufacturing process.
Let’s take a look at another sample of a Multi-Vitamin supplement label:
Ingredients: Wild Harvested Spirulina Algae, Organic Blue-Green Algae, Chlorella Broken-Cell Algae, Organic Barley Grass, Organic Alfalfa Grass, Organic Wheat Grass, Organic Purple Dulse Seaweed, Organic Acerola Cherry, Organic Rose Hips, Palm Fruit, Organic Lemon Peel, Organic Orange Peel, Organic Beet Root, Organic Spinach Leaf.
The supplement above is an example of a “Green Powder” if you will, but these supplements can be made into capsules or tablets by more natural means than Microcrystalline cellulose.
Why does this matter? Bioavailability. Bioavailability is the relative absorption of a nutrient from the diet…so, when you consume a supplement or food, how much of the nutrients make it through your digestive system, into the bloodstream to cells that need those nutrients.
As you might imagine, vitamins and minerals found in whole foods or minimally processed whole food sources are much more bioavailable than manufactured supplements. Additionally, food sources often contain complimentary/enhancing Vitamins and Minerals. For example, you need vitamin D to enhance to absorption rate of Calcium for bone heath. Rather than a manufactured supplement, you could make a dish with salmon, tuna, or egg yolks for some vitamin D, and pair with calcium rich foods such as collard greens, broccoli, dried figs, oranges and dairy foods (Milk contains vitamin D and Calcium). The possibilities are endless!
So, I hope this information is helpful for you in picking out a multi-vitamin of your own, or perhaps getting curious about food combinations to help meet nutrient needs. Thanks for reading, have a great day!