Every person requires nutrients for good health, growth and protection from disease. These come in the form of vitamins and minerals, essentially from food sources. Iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, manganese, silicon, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D and folic acid are some of the major nutrients required by us. RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) refers to the minimum quantity which is required by a person, in relation to his individual needs. When he cannot attain this RDA from food sources alone, he has to depend on vitamin supplements to meet these shortcomings. If the RDA is not met, there is a possibility of occurrence of various health problems such as deficiency diseases, metabolic disorders, chronic fatigue, insomnia, lack of concentration, etc., and it can lead to a downfall of overall health and wellness.
Multivitamins supplements are a form of combination of essential vitamins and minerals, which are used to make up for nutritional deficiencies in the body, when food sources are falling short. These pills provide protection from conditions such as macular degeneration and also reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Choosing a multivitamin supplement
The aim of taking a multivitamin supplements is to make up for the nutritional gaps in the diet. But you have to keep a few things in mind while choosing a vitamin supplement, which are listed as follows:
1) Content of the Supplement
The most important part of choosing a vitamin supplement is, knowing its nutrient content. You should get a fair idea, whether it is furnishing the RDA of vitamins and minerals. Read the label to know about the amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K, folic acid, iodine, potassium, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron and beta-carotene, etc present in the supplement. Also, be careful that it should not contain mega doses of these nutrients, as they may be harmful. Be sure about the expiry date too.
2) Personal Parameters
Another important issue while selecting a multi vitamin is your personal parameters like age, sex and requirement. You have to choose a supplement according to these, as the requirements of males and females may differ, and so may those of young and old people. Children may need different supplements as compared to the elderly. Similarly, the requirement of women of childbearing age may differ from those of menopausal age.
3) Form of the Supplement
It really matters that what form of the multivitamin supplement you are looking for. Children may want them in syrup or powder forms, while older people can have them as tablets or capsules. When you are looking for a supplement which is absorbed and shows effect rapidly, you may have to go for the injectable form.
4) Your Regular Medication
Multivitamin supplements are also chosen keeping in mind, any regular medication you are taking in routine. For this purpose, you need to consult your doctor before taking any multivitamin supplement. Those who have a history of a chronic condition need to practice extra caution.
5) Cost effectiveness
Another very important thing while choosing multivitamins is that they should be cost effective, which means that the benefits should be balanced with the cost. Take your supplements with meals for better absorption.
Need of Multivitamin Supplements
A balanced diet is the best way to stay healthy and a far better approach than resorting solely to taking multivitamins. However, there are some people for whom it is essential to have these supplements on daily basis. They include the following:
1) Pregnant women
Folic acid is a vitamin which is a must for pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy in near future. Folic acid is essential to bring down the risk of a disease called spina bifida, which occurs in unborn children. Some other nutrients required by them include iron, calcium and zinc.
Vitamin D supplements are required by breastfed children. Similarly, children of growing age may require other growth nutrients.
3) Postmenopausal women
Calcium and vitamin D supplements are needed by postmenopausal women as these nutrients strengthen the bones and lower the risk of osteoporosis.
4) Senior Citizens
Another group for whom vitamin supplements are necessary is that of people aged over 50 years. Vitamin B supplements are needed by them so that the body can absorb nutrients effectively from food sources.
5) Physically Active People
People who are physically active may need an extra dose of vitamin supplements. Similarly, those having some deficiencies may require them. Supplements may also be useful for vegetarians and patients of insomnia. Also, people suffering from particular diseases or conditions may be recommended to take these supplements.
Always start having a vitamin supplement only after getting the advice of your family doctor. They are not a substitute for healthy and balanced diet.