I stopped taking multivitamins a number of years ago. Recently, I found myself feeling a bit sluggish. I was concerned that my body might be lacking in some nutrients that I wasn’t getting in my diet. If I was going to start taking one again, it wasn’t going to be the generic, mass-produced versions you see on the shelves at the local drug store. It had to be high quality. I realize most people don’t know what makes a multivitamin worth buying. So let me break it down for you.
The most important thing you should look for when choosing a multivitamin is whether it is based from whole food or from synthetic ingredients (i.e., those that are sourced from a lab). The benefits of eating/choosing a whole food based multivitamin are great. For example, when you’re looking at the vitamin C component, it will say vitamin C from strawberries, cherries, or citrus fruit. This is the best choice because when we eat these foods in their natural form we get all the ascorbic acid (the primary component of vitamin C) along with all the other synergistic compounds that make up the full vitamin C complex. Vitamin C is a complex–it is not just one thing. When you buy a synthetic multivitamin, you are getting the ascorbic acid listed on the bottle, but none of the compounds that make up the entire complex. This is a very important distinction, because these molecules all work together to improve absorption in the body.
When you look at multivitamins containing whole food ingredients, you might notice on the container that it says if they are based on raw ingredients, unprocessed, from real food. You have to be careful though, because labeling can be very misleading. One of the things you should look for is the kind of claim or statement that says whole food or “derived” from whole foods. You should avoid those. In the case of raw, this means that the source was not pasteurized, cooked or processed, which is fantastic. This product will contain all sorts of live probiotics and enzymes, which is a huge benefit when it comes to digestion capability.
When reading the label on the back of the container, you’ll see that it lists all the different vitamins it contains. What is of primary importance is the ingredients list which shows you where these vitamins are coming from. When you buy your multivitamin from reputable companies like Garden of Life or Vitamin Code, there will be a list on the back of the bottle with a whole host of organic fruits and vegetables. It is essentially a day’s worth of fruits and vegetables packed into a capsule. It is not an excuse to avoid eating fruits and vegetables. You should use your multivitamin as an insurance policy. We all find ourselves in situations from time to time where the food available to us is not optimal. When you are at a sporting event or a live show and your choice of snack is a slice of pepperoni pizza or a highly processed bag of popcorn, neither is ideal. What a multivitamin will do is fill in those gaps.