How To: Finding the Best Multivitamins for You and Your Family
Health-conscious individuals generally try to eat a balanced diet that gives them the range of vitamins and minerals their bodies need. However, this isn't always possible--sometimes our needs exceed resource availability. It can be a struggle to get unpalatable vegetables down the hatch and one solution is to supplement your diet with a multivitamin. But more specifically, the best multivitamin for you. According to Jane Higdon, Ph.D., of Oregon State University, "Recent research indicates that several of the nutrients found in standard multivitamin supplements play important roles in preventing chronic diseases... [and] ensure an adequate intake of several micronutrients that are not always present in the diet in optimal amounts."

What to Look for when Browsing Multivitamin Supplements

When looking for the best multivitamin supplements, it's important to take into account the recommended daily allowances for each vitamin and mineral. These allowances, known as the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), set a standard for multivitamins according to one's estimated daily needs. Note that during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy, or as aging progresses, these needs may change.  Women and men, as well, may experience a difference in needs. For example, higher levels of iron and folic acid may be needed during menstruation or pregnancy.

What to Avoid

Try to avoid multivitamins that exceed the DRI levels by more than 200 or 300 percent. Consuming more than the recommended levels is not only unnecessary, it may be harmful. Though excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins will be flushed out of the system via urine, fat-soluble vitamins may tax the liver or be poisonous to other bodily systems. Avoid taking multivitamins with fillers; instead, look for a multivitamin with only the necessary ingredients. Shop's multivitamin section for only the highest quality multivitamins.

Exceptions to the Rule

There is one exception to this. Vitamin D, derived from sunlight, is a vitamin that many individuals may struggle to find enough of. Living in low light areas, spending the majority of your time indoors, or simply needing more vitamin D due to darker skin pigmentation can contribute to this. According to  Harvard, this includes "most of the U.S. population, [so] taking 2,000 IU is reasonable and well within the safe range." Wholefood Vitamins Wholefood vitamins are a little different. Though including a myriad of vitamins randomly capsuled together is fine, wholefoods vitamins take this a step further by providing the nutrients you'd find in a certain specific food item. The reasons for doing this have to do with the complex and beneficial relationship between nutrients as they exist within the organism. One example is derived from garlic, which has had the strong smell removed and is condensed into a fast and easy supplement. Some of the best multivitamins are derived from whole food ingredients. Shop Mega Food multivitamins to browse an array of whole food multivitamins. Getting Started

Age and gender-specific vitamins

To get you started in your search, here are four age- and gender-based categories of multivitamins to choose from.  Prenatal vitamins can be an intelligent investment for a woman to take in her post-puberty life but are essential when bringing a child to term.  Children's vitaminswomen's vitamins, and men's vitamins can also be found at these links. Be sure to consider any special dietary needs you have such as extra iron or calcium, as well as where you live as this may affect your needs for vitamin D. Lastly, remember to talk to your doctor about these needs before beginning. Resources
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