In a perfect world with a healthy diet you should obtain all the vitamins you need from the food you eat. A 2004 Nielsen survey found that only 12% of all Americans claim to eat the 5 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables per day! That means a huge portion of us are not getting the nutrition our bodies need to feed our cells, run our systems and remain healthy.
Vitamins perform many necessary functions; for example; help clot blood, make energy, allow you to see in colors, keep your teeth healthy and strong, and regulate metabolism.
So, what do we need to do? Vitamin supplements may be the answer. The American Medical Association recommends a daily multi-vitamin supplement for all adults. Around 78 million Americans regularly use a multivitamin. That’s roughly 26% of the population.
Here is what to look for in a good vitamin:
Absorbable – breaks apart for easy digestion. Most nutrients are absorbed in your small intestine early in the digestion process. You can test your vitamin to see how well it breaks down. Drop it in a glass of vinegar, come back in 30 minutes, it should be dissolved.
High Potency – look for amounts that are above the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). The United States government first released RDA values in 1941 during WWII for our soldiers.
Free of preservatives, colors, fillers, impurities and additives. This is hard to determine, but you should check out the ingredients on the label below the vitamin amounts. If you find things like magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, glucose, aspartame, propylene glycol, yellow #5 or blue #2 you may want to do some further research before purchasing. I suggest looking up the compounds and seeing what they really are. Vitamins may even have trace levels of lubricants that come from the machines used to make the tablets.
Vitamins from organic sources may be more easily digested. Organic sourced vitamins may also use words like: Food State, Food Source, Food Base, or All Natural.
Check for an expiration date on the bottle. Good vitamins expire. So if your bottle does not contain an expiration date throw it out and get a different brand.
The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Lyle MacWilliam is a wonderful resource. In this book 510 vitamin products were tested using 14 criteria including; completeness, potency, bioavailability, cardiac health triad, homocysteine reduction triad, bone health, antioxidant triad, and metabolic support. Below is a list of his top 5 vitamin supplements:
USANA – Essentials
Douglas Laboratories – Ultra Preventive X
Vitamin Research Products – Extended Plus
Source Naturals – Life Force Multiple and Elan Vital
Free Life – Basic Mindell Plus
Nutrient deficiency can lead to long term health concerns. A daily multivitamin is one way to increase your intake of nutrients.