A multivitamin is intended to supplement a persons diet with vitamins, dietary minerals, and other nutritional elements that they may be lacking. Multivitamins are available in tablets, capsules, pastilles, powders, liquids, and injectable formulations.
- If you recognize a greater need for a particular vitamin or mineral, and you get adequate amounts of the rest, it’s better to buy that product separately. There are many inexpensive formulations of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), iron (ferrous sulfate), and calcium.
- Remember to take coffee or tea at least 30 minutes after meals because these can decrease the availability of iron by up to 50 percent.
- Never take supplements with hot drinks because these destroy some nutrients. Never take them with cold drinks either because absorption is slowed down. And definitely, alcohol and supplements don’t mix. Room temperature water is best.
- Take vitamins A, D and E with meals. These are fat soluble vitamins and are better absorbed if you take them with food. Most minerals are also taken best with food.
- If you have to take two doses (commonly with vitamin C or calcium), take them at different times of the day to lessen the risk of upset stomach.
- Vitamins in large amounts are toxic. Do not give adult vitamins to children.
- “Natural” supplements cost more than synthetic versions but are chemically identical and similarly effective. The exception is vitamin E. Natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) comes from soybean, sunflower and corn oils. Synthetic vitamin E is made from chemical reaction that produces different forms of tocopherol, not all of which are as well absorbed as d-alpha.
- Be careful with “special formulas” targeting women, the elderly, or stressed-out professionals. Look at the content, not the advertisement. A multivitamin can’t prevent disease by itself. It should be accompanied by a healthy diet, adequate rest and exercise.