There are no perfect answers about what an ideal multivitamin should contain. Whether you’re a man, woman or child will help determine the product that’s best for you, as will your age, your dietary habits and the like. You may also need to take some nutrient as separate supplements, since multivitamins don’t always provide adequate quantities of some nutrients (for example, most multivitamins contain minimal quantities of calcium, because the full RDI of calcium is simply too bulky to fit into a single multivitamin pill). The following are some suggestions for nutrients to look for in a good multivitamin:
Vitamin A and Beta-carotene
Look for a product with more beta-carotene than vitamin A. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A (meaning the body converts it into vitamin A as needed). It’s far less toxic in large quantities, and it can be utilized by the body as needed. Moreover, it appears that beta-carotene offers more protection against cancer than vitamin A.
Benefits of Vitamin A
- Assists in bone development and growth
- Acts as a cofactor in essential enzyme reactions
- Supports healthy testicular and ovarian function
- Enables normal retinal function
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that should be supplied at levels well above the minimum requirements (60 milligrams). Some prominent researchers advocate taking huge amounts of vitamins C – tens of thousands of milligrams daily – while others suggest a more moderate 700 to 1,500 milligrams a day. Higher daily intake may only temporarily raise blood levels of vitamin C, though this could be beneficial. If you want to take more vitamin C than your multivitamin provides, you can easily take a separate supplement.
Benefits of Vitamin C
- Prevents and treats scurvy
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant
- Assist in iron absorption
- Helps treat anemia
- Promotes collagen growth in connective tissue
- Helps wound and broken bones heal
- Treat urinary tract infections
Many multivitamin formulas contain bioflavonoids, which are thought to enhance the action of vitamin C. Research shows that bioflavonoids also help reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Benefits of Bioflavonoids
- Help metabolize carbohydrates and amino acids
- Assist in formation of fatty acids
- Support healthy blood cells, hair, skin, nerves, bones and male reproductive organs