We all try to get our nutrients from our food instead of a medicine cabinet, but meeting all your nutrition needs with just food is not possible. On top of that, there may be other life factors that make supplementation necessary — pregnancy, menopause, or even chronic conditions.
One study in 2020 found that vitamin deficiencies are commonly linked to chronic diseases, and supplementation may help. Even a complete diet may not be giving you the nutrients you need, when you need them. That’s where multivitamins come in.
For starters, a daily multivitamin can help provide a good foundation for your health. It can also protect you when you’re experiencing stress, sleeping poorly, or not getting regular exercise. Even with a “perfect” diet, these issues can make it tough for your body to properly absorb the nutrients.
But with so many vitamin and mineral combos, how do we know exactly what to look for when shopping for a multivitamin? Luckily, we have seven ingredients your multivitamin should have, no matter what brand you choose.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is important for bone health. Not getting enough of this vitamin can increase your likelihood of getting sick, your chances of bone and back pain, bone and hair loss. Working an office 9 to 5 life, and applying sunscreen (which blocks vitamin D synthesis) makes getting vitamin D hard. This vitamin is also hard to come by in food, which is why Taub-Dix says to look for this ingredient in your multivitamin.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means that we must get it from food or supplements. Magnesium is best known for being important to our bone health and energy production. However, magnesium may have more benefits than that. This mineral can also calm the nervous system and reduce stress, ease sleep problems, regulate muscle and nerve function. But a lot of people are magnesium deficient because they aren’t eating the right foods, not because they need supplements. Try eating more pumpkin, spinach, artichoke, soybeans, beans, tofu, brown rice, or nuts before jumping to supplements for solutions.
Over 40% of adults in the country have a calcium deficiency. This means those people aren’t getting the mineral they need for strong bones and teeth. Women in particular start losing bone density earlier, and getting enough calcium from the start is the best nutritional defense against this loss.ED
Zinc tends to be low in older people and anyone under a lot of stress which is basically everyone. And it makes sense. Zinc supports our immune system and helps our body use carbohydrates, protein, and fat for energy. It also aids in wound healing.
The average Indian diet isn’t rich in foods that offer zinc, and the body can’t store zinc, which is why your daily supplement should highlight this ingredient.
Iron should be in your multivitamin, but not everyone needs the same amount of iron. Some of the benefits of iron include increased energy, better brain function, and healthy red blood cells.
Those who eat red meats typically get enough iron, but certain circumstances like having your menstrual cycle, going through puberty, and being pregnant may increase the amount of iron you need. This is because iron is essential during times of rapid growth and development. Vegetarians and vegans may also want to make sure their multivitamin has iron, especially if they’re not supplementing meat with other iron-rich foods.
Folate (or folic acid) is best known for aiding in foetus development and preventing birth defects. But if you’re growing out your nails, fighting depression, or looking to combat inflammation, this ingredient is important, too.
7. Vitamin B-12
The B-vitamin complex is like a factory made up of eight diligent workers who band together to create and sustain our body’s energy supply by breaking down the micronutrients we consume (fats, proteins, carbs).
But each has a specialised role, too. Vitamin B-12 works to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vegan or vegetarians are prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency because most food sources are animal-based like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, get it from food first. Our bodies are designed to reap nutrients from the food we eat, and we will get all the nutrients we need, as long as we’re eating a varied and balanced diet.
Because at the end of the day, supplements should be considered bonus boosters, not replacements for food.