Multivitamins—Health Insurance in a Bottle!

Why should I take a multivitamin? I eat pretty well!
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but eating a fairly healthy diet might not
guarantee that you are getting all of the nutrients needed for good health. You could be
eating your five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but dislike dairy products. Or
you could be under stress (and lately, doesn’t it seem like this is true for all of us?) and as
a result, your body is using up more nutrients than usual. Whatever the scenario, when
you consider the long list of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are required for
good health, and how hard it can be to get these from our diets, taking a multivitamin
really does seem like a logical choice to make.
What should be in my multivitamin?
Just to clarify, when people refer to a “multivitamin,” they really mean “multivitamin
and mineral and herbal supplement.” But in an effort to keep things simple, we’ll stick
with the term “multivitamin.”
Basically, whatever brand of multivitamin you choose should contain generous
amounts of just about every vitamin and mineral you can think of (with one key
exception) as well as a nice variety of other healthful nutrients.
For example, a high quality multivitamin will include vitamin A, either alone or with
beta carotene, the entire B-vitamin family (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, folic acid,
etc.), vitamin C, D, and E. Supplementing with all of these nutrients have been found
time and time again to help improve our health, and being deficient in any of them can
lead to problems.
Minerals to look for on the label include calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iodine,
zinc, copper and selenium, as well as chromium, manganese and potassium. As stated
above, one mineral that should not be present is iron. Although children often need to
supplement with this mineral, more current research is finding that adults do not require
additional iron, and taking it may actually lead to some health problems.
While traditional formulas tend to stop here, other brands of multivitamins may include
even more healthy nutrients, including things like bioflavonoids, chlorella, silica,
bromelain, choline and betaine. These ingredients can also be beneficial to good health
and are not always found in abundance in the average diet.
You might notice when reading the label that some or all of the nutrients listed give
you a much higher amount of nutrition than the “recommended daily allowance,” or
RDA. This is because while the RDAs were determined as a way to help eradicate
certain forms of serious diseases, they do not necessarily promote or enhance good
health. For example the RDA of vitamin C is meant to prevent scurvy, but it is not necessarily enough to enhance immunity or do any of the other things for which the
nutrient is well-known. With this in mind, the higher dosages typically found in a
multivitamin are meant to promote and enhance good health.
One last thing to look for on your multivitamin label is how often you should be taking
it. While the “one a day” tablets are convenient, another option is the brands which allow
you to take 1 or more during the day, thus allowing you to spread out your nutritional
boosts throughout the day. Any way you slice it, taking a multivitamin on a daily basis
should provide you with the nutritional health insurance you need to stay healthy.
References:
Balch and Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Third Edition, 2000, pages 13-34
Various internet sources

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