Okay, so, maybe you eat a few too many cookies and a few too few veggies on a regular basis. As long as you pop a multivitamin every day, you should be fine, right?
Multivitamins aren’t really the one-a-day space food that they’re made out to be. For all our advancements in the technological age, the science behind these supplements is actually pretty obsolete.
And yet, multivitamins are still a crucial component of an intelligent supplement strategy. So how do we tailor our expectations to be based on the clinical data of reality, without getting caught up in marketing schemes for these so-called superfood panaceas?
Read on, fellow wellness seeker, to learn about a food-first approach to micronutrients and how to buy the best multivitamin to fill the gaps in our still-human diets.
In This Article:
- Improving your diet before supplementing multivitamins
- How to choose the best multivitamin supplement
- What to avoid when buying a multivitamin
- What to look for when choosing your multi
Food First: Supplementing Multivitamins Won’t Make You Healthier
Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight. You don’t have to give up your cookies.
Why? Because a food-first mentality isn’t the same thing as a fad diet or fanatical fasting. Rather, it’s a shift in mindset away from what we’ve been taught by the sales tactics of the supplement industry.
It can be boiled down as such: You can’t out-supplement a nutritionally bankrupt diet.
It’s true — regardless of what you’ve heard from health influencers, no amount of vitamins, supplements, oils, or potions can make up for a diet that lacks a diverse range of nutritious foods.
That’s why Dr. Neal created the Wellness Pyramid after 20 years of explaining: yes supplements are great, but no they aren’t the key to immortality. The Wellness Pyramid simplifies this really complex thing — holistic, or whole-being, health — into a compact graphic that illustrates this principle.
We start, then, at the bottom of the pyramid, laying the groundwork for genuine, long-term health. The 5 foundational domains are diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes.
Most applicable in the realm of multivitamins is diet.
Walking the Middle Path of Nutrition
But you don’t have to go full paleo or cut out your favorite treats. You can if you want, but most of us…don’t really want to do that.
So, instead, we walk the middle path, making manageable changes and taking everything in moderation — including moderation. That looks something like:
- Eating more whole, fresh foods and fewer processed foods.
- Getting 1-2 cups of fruits and veggies (each!) per day.
- Balancing meals with all 3 macronutrients (healthy fats, complex carbs, and protein).
- Eating small, frequent meals and having snacks every few hours to maintain healthy energy levels, blood sugar, metabolism, and brain functioning.
Not so bad, right? Once you’ve optimized your diet — and done some work in the other 4 foundational domains, too — you can take multivitamins confidently, knowing you’re not wasting money on well-branded bunk.
How to Choose the Right Multivitamin Supplement
Except… Creating a multivitamin supplement strategy that actually works isn’t as simple as fixing your diet first.
While that is the non-negotiable first step, once you cross that hurdle, the next stumbling block involves finding a multivitamin with the appropriate forms and doses of critical nutrients. This part should be easy, but thanks to the loose regulations and even looser standards of the wellness industry, it’s not.
So before you shell out your hard-earned cash, check out Dr. Neal’s insider tips for buying the best multivitamin supplement available.
Multivitamin Buying — The Don’ts:
Don’t Buy Demographic-Specific Multivitamins
We’ve all seen them — multivitamins for women, multivitamins for men, multivitamins for children, seniors, vegans, dog owners, hair models, skydivers, the list goes on.
At first blush, it might seem like a great idea to buy a multivitamin with specific nutrients for your specific demographic or health concern. You’re not crazy for thinking that.
The issue lies in the fact that most of the supposedly targeted nutrients included are only added to give the illusion of a powerful formula. These kinds of gimmicky vitamins almost never include the proper forms and doses of the compounds listed, and they come from bottom-of-the-barrel sources.
Don’t Just Buy the Multivitamin with the Most Ingredients
You should avoid multivitamins that brag about ungodly numbers of different nutrients for essentially the same reasons you should avoid demographically branded multis.
More doesn’t always equal better; there’s a limit to what you can fit in a capsule.
And we should know, what with our proprietary supplement formulations and all! Typically, when you see a multivitamin with a supplement facts panel as long as your receipt, you’ll only be getting minuscule amounts of the nutrients listed.
Like, 1-5mg. Seriously.
It’s not just that these supplements contain low doses and are therefore less effective — they’re useless without the proper, clinically studied doses of the nutrients contained.
Learn More: 3 Spooky Supplement Marketing Tactics Unmasked
Multivitamin Buying — The Do’s:
Do Your Research on Nutrient Forms Before Buying
Most people think that getting any form of a vitamin is better than getting no form of the vitamin. That’s not really the case.
Take calcium, as one simple, yet emblematic example. We always recommend calcium hydroxyapatite because it’s the same form of calcium that’s found right there in our bones. This makes it super bioavailable and easy to absorb.
Other, cheaper forms of calcium are more difficult to absorb. But the real concern lies in the fact that unabsorbed calcium in your gut can cause major tummy issues.
Even the most comprehensive-seeming supplements, when examined a little closer, can be seen cutting corners to save on manufacturing costs.
They’ll use folic acid instead of tetrahydrofolate. They’ll use pyridoxine instead of P5P. None of the B vitamins are in their methylated state. Minerals are in their most basic form as if they were scraped off a rock and put right into the capsule.Dr. Neal Smoller
So when choosing a multivitamin, look for the supplements that use the most bioavailable form of each nutrient — no ifs, ands, or buts.
Do Examine the Doses Included
Yep, we’re circling back to multivitamin doses again because the importance of it cannot be stressed enough.
When it comes to dosage, manufacturers are banking on the fact that you haven’t done your research and don’t know how much of each nutrient your body needs. They’re counting on you to see multivitamins as cure-alls, despite the fact the formulas have way less of each active ingredient than a stand-alone supplement would have.
The doses are so low, we call them “Fairy Dusted” doses. They just sprinkled a little ingredient in there so they can make the claim on the label.Dr. Neal Smoller
To be a savvy shopper of multivitamin supplements, you have two choices:
- Investigate the clinical data and scientific findings on the proper doses of each and every vitamin, nutrient, herbal compound, antioxidant, etc., included.
- Buy your supplements from a reputable manufacturer that prioritizes efficacy and evidence-based formulations at equitable retail prices.
A Multi-Pronged Attack on Multivitamin Marketing Schemes
When done wrong, they’re a bad investment at best and a dangerous gamble with low-quality ingredients at worst.
But you don’t have to worry about getting swindled by skeevy marketing tactics of supplement suppliers anymore, right!? Equipped with Dr. Neal’s integral do’s and don’ts for buying multis, you’re a veritable multivitamin maestro.
And if you need a copilot to help navigate the world of futuristic superfood space supplements, just give us a call. Chat with one of our supplement strategists for free via Counterside Consult anytime, anywhere.