Your Ultimate Guide to Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamin and minerals are absolutely vital to human survival, as they are involved physiological processes to sustain life. Though they are naturally supplied from food, multivitamins and supplements also exist. While reaching for and consuming colorful produce naturally grants valuable nutrients, how can you maneuver the daunting and intimidating supplement aisle?

Do I Need to Vitamins and Mineral Supplements?

First off, dietitians do encourage the “food first” rule by obtaining vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet. But aside from vitamins and minerals, foods supply other nutrients supplements lack, including phytochemicals and fiber found in plant sources such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Mostly, it is important to remember a multivitamin is intended to supplement and not as a replacement or substitute for a well-balanced diet. That being said, multivitamins do have a time and place, as it can fill in the nutritional gaps of a westernized diet and assure adequate nutrients in certain populations that may be more vulnerable to deficiencies or requiring higher needs, including those following a vegetarian or vegan diet; individuals with a nutrition-related condition, including anemia or bowel disorder; women of childbearing age or who are pregnant or breastfeeding; and the senior population, especially over age 50.   

Are Vitamin and Supplements Regulated and Safe?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vitamins are regulated by the administration as “Dietary Supplements,” ultimately overseeing food labeling and approval of medications. Under the Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, vitamin manufacturers must identify dietary ingredients, while the label must reflect such additions. You can further assure vitamin and supplement safety by…

…identifying ingredients.

Take advantage of the label and identify the ingredients, which should at least include basic, yet vital vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, D2 or D3 (cholecalciferol), K, and beta carotene, biotin, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc. For a more detailed and comprehensive vitamin and mineral chart, click here. The additions of herbals and botanicals should also be warned with caution, as their safety is not fully known.

…realizing more is not better.

Though going for a second helping of veggies is admirable, it is important to remember more is not always better when it comes to supplements. Select multivitamins with no more than 100 percent of total Daily Values (DVs) and shy away from mega-doses, as there is not enough sufficient evidence to suggest if they are necessary or healthy, even surfacing conflicting data of preventing disease and provoking health risks if taking large doses.

…spotting false claims.

As a general rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it more than likely is. Along with staying weary of health claims found on social media sites and other unreliable sources, stay clear of products promoted as a “cure-all,” “quick fix,” or “metabolic enhancer.” The savvy consumer tends to recognize many herbs, botanicals, and other substances mixed into some multivitamins should be tread with caution.

…discussing with a primary healthcare provider.

For further backing regarding which vitamin and supplement you may benefit from, discuss with your primary care provider. Not only can they guide you to a safe product, but verify dosing recommendations and identify any potential medication interactions and side effects of its use.

Ultimately, and as stated above, a multivitamin cannot replace a well-balanced diet. To naturally ensure adequate nutrients, gravitate towards colorful produce, whole grains, lean meats, milk and dairy products, and healthy fat sources. If desiring or needing additional assistance, Balance by bistroMD delivers a la cart-style, nutrient-packed meals straight to your door! Not only are they rich in flavor, but supply the right balance of vitamins and minerals the body requires for optimal health. For more information on Balance by bistroMD and meal options, click here!