Choosing a multivitamin or an individual vitamin supplement is often confusing. Deciding if
you need or should take vitamins further contributes to the confusion. Add to this the promotional hype
about supplements and the issue becomes very cloudy indeed!
Ideally, the proper combination of vitamins and minerals should come from food sources. Nature
has provided an abundance of vitamins and minerals conveniently wrapped up in organic packages
designed for maximum absorption and utilization by the body. What nature provides, processing takes
away, with much of the nutrient value being lost. This is why some vitamin and mineral supplementation
So what is the best type of vitamin & mineral to take?
Good question; and, depending upon whom you ask, you'll get different answers. Manufacturers
have invented new and different ways of compounding vitamins and minerals so they'll be better
absorbed. Studies are cited which "demonstrate" the increased bowel uptake of their product. Several
studies comparing the different varieties of vitamin supplements have shown little if any difference as far
as their ability to be utilized by the body. It appears that if a person is in need of a particular substance,
then they'll absorb it no matter what form it's taken in. This is because the body alters the binding sites on
the cell surface to absorb more of the deficient nutrient. What this means is that if you need it , it will be
absorbed and if not, then it won't be absorbed as much.
How much should I take ?
This is dependent upon a number of factors which your physician can assess. We first look for
the signs of a vitamin or mineral deficiency through the history and physical examination. Next we look
at dietary intake to assess the nature, quality and variety of the food. Notice that I didn't say quantity of
food. This is because most people take in large quantities of nutritionally deplete food which only
provides excessive calories. People often feel hungry shortly after eating because there haven't been
enough nutrients, resulting in over weight and under nourished people.
* In general, a small amount of supplementation with meals is recommended every day.
* During the winter months, slightly higher amounts of specific vitamins such as C and B complex
may be needed as metabolism changes to meet the demands of the colder weather. Additionally, they
provide protection from the increased exposure to colds and flu's.
* During the summer, a smaller amount of supplementation is required as the diet is higher in fruits
and vegetables which are abundant in nutrients.
* The elderly should take slightly higher amounts of vitamins and minerals as the ability to absorb
nutrients becomes less with age. Certainly the requirements for nutrients does not change but the
requirements for calories is lower.
* Taking too many vitamins and minerals however, results in waste and vitamin toxicity.
If you have questions about your vitamin and mineral supplementation, please do not hesitate to
contact your physician as they can provide a comprehensive nutritional evaluation.
What is the best brand ?
There is no "best" brand to buy, despite what advertisers tell you. We recommend that you read
the label as when buying any item, to see if coloring or preservatives have been added. If you have
questions about over-the-counter brands, your naturopathic physician can provide a list of multivitamins which are rated as to
vitamin content and economic value.
Dr. Tom Kruzel practices in Portland, Oregon and can be reached at (503) 667-1961