The first stop for most people when looking to overhaul their health through nutrition is a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. Such a multinutrient supplement is by no means a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle, but rather a synergistic addition to it. This is necessary to ensure that we have an optimum baseline of nutrition and a multinutrient supplement also provides additional support for those with higher nutrient needs, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, those with poor digestion, or individuals with a particular health condition.
To the average person the market appears to be saturated with multinutrient supplements and we can become easily confused by all of the bus banners and A-boards telling us about the next best thing.
When looking for a multinutrient supplement, choose wisely and make sure it has the following attributes:
- What are the forms of each nutrient? – not all forms are created equal. It is vitally important to know what the vitamin or mineral is bound to as this can either aid or impede absorption in our gut. For instance, ferrous sulphate (available from the GP) and iron citrate (a common form of iron provided in food supplements) are worlds apart in the nutrition world, with the latter being the preferred form as it is far better absorbed and avoids common side effects (e.g. constipation) when taking iron from the GP. Other differences you may have noticed are different forms of vitamin C, as either ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbate for example, the latter of which is a ‘buffered’ form which many find gentler on their digestive tract and easier to tolerate. This goes on for each nutrient available on the market, there are ins-and-outs of each form and a reason why a nutritionist may prefer one over the other depending on the condition of the client. Modern research is enabling us to find out which forms of nutrients are the most ‘bioavailable’, meaning that the body can absorb and use them straight away. Methylated B vitamins are an excellent example of vitamins in their superior form, such as methylfolate and methylcobalamin as the most bioactive forms of folate (or folic acid) and B12 respectively.
- What are the levels of each nutrient? – are the nutrients provided at an effective baseline level per daily dosage, such as 400mcg methylfolate, 400mcg methylcobalamin or 1000 IU vitamin D3? Also consider whether you may have elevated nutrient needs and so may require a higher supplemental dosage of key vitamins and minerals from a multinutrient supplement e.g. a menstruating female may require much higher level of iron depending upon their diet compared to menopausal and a vegan/vegetarian may require a higher level of vitamin B12.
- Does it contain any excipients? – often certain ‘excipients’ are necessary to make a supplement viable and stable and are harmless when consumed in tiny amounts from a supplement, whereby others may be unnecessary and damaging. It is always best to check that the multinutrient supplement contains only a minimal amount of excipients and it can be a good idea to contact the manufacturer so they can explain them to you.
- Which format is it supplied in? Practicalities around administration of the product is very important. If you have difficulties swallowing large capsules or tablets, check the size provided by a particular supplement to make sure you will be able to swallow them easily and if not source maybe a liquid or powder. If you have poor digestion, consider taking a capsule multinutrient over a tablet form as they are easier to digest and absorb. By asking ourselves these questions we can decipher which would be the best format. We definitely don’t want to spend good money on a product that is ideal to support health requirements but unable to take it because of the taste or texture.
- How much does it cost, per day, per month? Rarely do we come across any individual who is not concerned about cost, so we are very aware of how much of an impact this product may have on monthly outgoings. But to reassure you, it is often a really good idea to breakdown the cost of your chosen multinutrient supplement per day and often you will find that it costs much less than a daily takeaway coffee, a small price to pay for investing in your wellness and long-term health.
Got a question?
The brand you can talk to:
We have a team of Clinical Nutritionists at the end of our advice line, open to you, for product support and advice (5 days a week). 0121 433 8702 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Or head to our advice page where you can find Healthnotes.
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