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What you need to know about Multivitamins…

With the endless brands & aisles of multivitamins out there, choosing a multi can be one confusing experience! Also, misconceptions about vitamin & mineral supplements keep flooding our minds – they are not medicine to treat illnesses, they do not have magical anti-ageing miracles, they are not food substitutes, & more more more is not better! The reason behind this post is due to the huge number of people I see in my practice that take way too many supplements than their body needs!

 Basic Criteria When Choosing a Multivitamin:
Your choice of multi should at least provide 100% of the Daily Value or Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for all of the vitamins: (Note recommended intakes vary depending on age and gender)

  • B Vitamins – B1 (thiamin) , B2 (riboflavin), B12, B6, B3(niacin)
  • Vitamins C, D, & E (less than 100mg for vit E)
  • Folic acid
  • Minerals – It should contain 18mg of Iron, 100mg of magnesium

The reason why large doses of multivitamin supplements can be harmful is due to the toxic effects that can occur. For example – vitamins K, D, E, A are fat soluble vitamins; which means that they are stored in our liver and body fat for a long time. Consuming a large dose of these vitamins over a long period of time, especially vitamin A, can be toxic resulting in harmful side effects.

Who would need supplements?

  • Expecting mothers will need to supplement their diet with folate (400µg)- we recommend to start a supplement for a month before conception & then for the 1st 3 months of pregnancy to prevent the baby from developing neural tube defects.
  •  Vegans, who eat no animal products, may be deficient in vitamin B12.
  • People on weight loss diets that are very restrictive or those on a very low in fat.
  • People on special diets for allergies/food intolerances that may be restrictive.
  • Those suffering from malabsorption problems such as coeliac disease, pancreatitis, diarrhoea.
  • People recovering from serious illness or surgery. 

Things to remember when opting for a multi:

  • Get a health professional’s opinion on whether you require a multivitamin supplement.
  • Enquire about the multivitamins’ bioavailability i.e. how easily absorbed they are by the body.
  • Check whether the supplements are approved by accredited laboratories and/or bodies like the FDA – Food & Drug Administration.
  • A multivitamin does not replace a healthy diet and is only used when your diet is inadequate.
  • Multivitamins are not cures for illnesses such as colds/infections.

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