Getting all the nutrients you need on a daily basis can be a difficult task. Most people find it daunting to incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein. Natalie A. Nevins, DO, an osteopathic physician from Hollywood, California, explains how you can incorporate multivitamins and supplements into your diet to help satisfy those nutrient needs.
“Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein are crucial in ensuring that we get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed on a daily basis. Multivitamins are not intended to take the place of a healthy diet, but they can provide a healthy foundation in case you don’t get certain nutrients on a given day,” says Dr. Nevins.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, listen and partner with their patients to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors can influence health and wellbeing.
Choosing a Multivitamin
Dr. Nevins notes that there are a few things to consider when taking a multivitamin.
Get the right multivitamin. “Your multivitamin should include vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyrixidine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D, E and K. Minerals should include copper, chromium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc,” Dr. Nevins indicates. Multivitamins are recommended to be taken daily and at any age.
Multivitamins should include 100% of the recommended daily allowances. “By taking the maximum amount, this ensures that no matter your diet, you will fulfill your daily recommended vitamin and mineral intake,” she says.
Take the pill that’s right for you. If you have issues with swallowing pills, consider smaller pills, chewable pills or powders you can mix with water. If you have any food sensitivities such as wheat or dairy, or prefer a vegetarian preparation, make sure to check the ingredient label. “Multivitamins generally provide the same benefits, so find the one that works best for you,” Dr. Nevins says.
Eat something. “Taking vitamins on an empty stomach can upset it and make you feel nauseous,” she says.
Keep track of what you take. “If you take many supplements, you may be getting more than you need of certain vitamins and minerals, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. You may want to contact your physician about any potential risks, especially if you are taking prescription medications,” Dr. Nevins says.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
In addition to a multivitamin, sometimes additional vitamin and mineral supplements are needed:
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan. Vegetarians often lack nutrients found in meat, like B12 and iron. “A multivitamin should stabilize your B12 intake, but many find the need for an additional iron supplement,” says Dr. Nevins. For vegans, who might miss out on their daily dose of calcium and Vitamin D, Dr. Nevins recommends drinking soy milk or any other fortified milk alternative to keep levels up.
If you’re feeling down. “People with low levels of vitamin D, magnesium and omega-3s are more likely to show signs of depression,” says Dr. Nevins. When this happens, she recommends adding all three. “Omega-3s have been shown to support brain health, and magnesium has been shown to help the body feel calm, relaxed and satisfied.”
If you want to boost your body’s resilience. “The spice turmeric and flax seed oil help to reduce inflammation in the body and fight off sickness,” says Dr. Nevins. This oil helps support the joints and improves heart and brain health.
“Vitamins don’t take the place of eating healthy. It is important to keep up a well balanced diet and to eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals when you are able to,” Dr. Nevins points out. “Multivitamins are there as your safety net in case you fall short on vitamin and mineral intake with your diet.”