March 20, 2013

Do I need a Multivitamin and how do I select one for me?

Everyday I try to convince people to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. I try to do it, but fail most days due to my hectic counseling schedule.

" A Multivitamin is a Nutritional Convenience to your Nutritional Indiscipline". I myself have been taking one for about close to 8 years running. I skip a day or two here, but a Nutrition test a few years back had me looking at chronic deficiency in  Vit B 12 and D. So here is my 6 Secrets  to choose your multivitamin. 

Here goes 

You need to check if each of the vitamins and minerals listed on the label is present in the right amounts. For example, the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) set by the World Health Organization for vitamin C is 45 mg per day. That standard was set decades ago in order to prevent diseases such as scurvy, a deficiency disorder resulting from a lack of vitamin C in the diet. 

Most multivitamins claim they provide 100% of the RDI for vitamin C, but is that enough? Is your goal to avoid scurvy or to achieve optimal health? 

If you want to achieve optimal health, you must disregard the ‘% Daily Values’ listed on the product label (which are based on the RDI values) and instead look for a supplement that contains the optimal doses of each vitamin and mineral. For instance, in the case of vitamin C, the consensus of the medical community is that at least 200 mg are required daily for optimal health. 

Secret #1 to picking the right multivitamin is to disregard the RDI percentages listed on the label and look for supplements that contain the Optimal Daily Intake values of each vitamin and mineral. 

Did you know that many brands of multivitamin tablets are poorly absorbed by your body because their active ingredients are broken down by the acid in your stomach? 

So, how do you overcome this problem and get the active ingredients into your bloodstream? Not easily, but it is possible! The pharmaceutical industry has been doing this for years by covering the tablet with an enteric coating. 

First they develop a tablet that will disintegrate at a certain pH (acid level) within a specific time. This is based on the pH level found in the upper intestine. (Note: although the stomach is highly acidic, the upper intestine is slightly alkaline). Next they coat that tablet with a special acid-resistant enteric coating that can withstand the stomach acid for the period of time that it takes to pass through the stomach to the upper intestine. 

When a person swallows the tablet, it passes through the stomach intact. Then within 10 - 20 minutes of entering the duodenum (upper intestine), the enteric coating disintegrates, releasing the active ingredients. These ingredients then take another 30 - 60 minutes to fully dissolve so they can be absorbed in your bloodstream. 

By using an enteric coating, manufacturers are able to greatly increase the bio availability and absorption rates of their multivitamins. 

Secret #2 to picking the right multivitamin is to look for a multivitamin with an enteric coating. 
There are a number of things you should be on the lookout for when picking a supplement: 

  • Preservatives 

Preservatives are a type of additive used to help extend the shelf life of the multivitamin. If the product boasts a shelf life of more than 2 years, it is a sure sign there are preservatives inside. Some preservatives are known to cause asthma, nausea, vomiting, and headaches in susceptible individuals. 

  • Coloring 

Though some artificial food dyes have been banned because they are believed to cause cancer, there are still many artificial dyes in use in supplements today. They are also linked to allergies, asthmas, and hyperactivity. 

  • Sweeteners 

Some multivitamins contain sweeteners, many of which are artificial sugar substitutes containing no natural sugars, such as saccharine and aspartame. Artificial sweeteners are linked to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and allergies. 

  • Flavorings 

The most common food additive is flavorings. These are usually comprised of a large number of chemicals. Artificial flavors are linked to allergic and behavioral reactions, yet these ingredients are not required to be listed on the label as they're generally recognized as safe. 

  • Allergens 

Substances that are commonly associated with allergies include gluten, peanuts, soy, and dairy. If you suffer from any of these allergies, make sure you read the labels carefully and avoid products that can trigger them. 

Secret #3 to picking the right multivitamin is to choose multivitamins that do not contain preservatives, coloring, sweeteners, flavorings, and allergens. 

Some manufacturers cannot afford to give any money-back guarantee. As soon as the customer opens the bottle, no refunds are available. These manufacturers typically offer sub-par products that have low customer satisfaction. Such companies can quickly go out of business if they give consumers the option to return the products. 

A good company with a good product typically offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. This gives consumers enough time to try the product over the course of several weeks to determine if it works for them. 

Companies that have very high levels of customer satisfaction can afford to offer even longer warranty periods without being affected negatively because their return rates are exceptionally low. 

There are companies that offer up to 12 months of unconditional money-back guarantee. If you see multivitamins with such a long warranty period, that’s a sure sign customers love this product and buying it is a safe choice. 

Secret #4 to picking the right multivitamin is to look at the length of the money-back period each manufacturer offers. 

Consumers have been conditioned to believe that the more expensive a product is, the better it must be. Shrewd supplement vendors take advantage of this popular belief and inflate the prices they charge for their products in order to create the perception of higher quality. 

Network marketing companies are notorious for doing that. They include one or two unique ingredients in their multivitamin formulas and market them as one-of-a-kind supplements in order to justify their high price tag. 

If you compare such supplements with similar products from regular vitamin manufacturers, you would discover that the composition and quality of the multivitamins offered are frequently the same. 

Do not assume that because one product is more expensive than another, it is better. 

Secret #5 to picking the right multivitamin is to disregard price as a criteria in your selection process. 

In many countries, vitamin supplements are considered food additives. As such, they are not held to the highest standard set by regulatory agencies. Such products are classified as “food-grade” which means that each multivitamin tablet does not have to contain the exact amounts of each ingredient listed on the label.

In contrast, “pharmaceutical-grade” supplements adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). These practices dictate that manufacturers minimize or eliminate instances of contamination, lack of uniformity, and poor quality. As a result, consumers are protected from purchasing a product which is ineffective or dangerous.

Supplement manufacturers are not required by law to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices, but some of them do so voluntarily in order to ensure that their products are safe, pure, and effective.

Secret #6 to picking the right multivitamin is to look for products manufactured according to GMP guidelines. 

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