Multivitamins: All you need to know before you choose

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What are multivitamins?

Are nutritional supplements that include several micronutrients, such as vitamins, metals, trace elements, and also other nutritional ingredients such as amino acids, fatty acids, probiotics, antioxidants and herbal extracts. Micronutrients are essential for overall health and proper function of the body.

Multivitamins are designed to cover certain nutritional needs. The main ingredients of those supplements are water-soluble B complex and C, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, metals and trace elements such as iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, manganese, calcium and magnesium.


Forms of multivitamins

There are available a lot of multivitamins forms. They can be found in effervescent tablets, in capsules, in vegetarian tablets, in chewable, as syrup or in spray form.


Multivitamins categories

For men: Contain more B complex vitamins and magnesium.
For women: Contain more iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D. Ποιές είναι οι κατηγορίες των πολυβιταμινών
For children and adolescents: Include nutrients for proper growth.
For older 50+: Contain more B complex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and also lutein or lycopene for eye health.
For athletes: Contain more micronutrients and also antioxidants and herbal extracts that increase endurance, such as flavonoids, carnitine, Q10.
For extra energy: Include toning herbal extracts and antioxidants such as Q10, royal jelly, ginseng, gingko biloba, and guarana.


Are multivitamins necessary?

Multivitamins are necessary for those that already lack one or more nutrients from their diet of for individuals that are risk of developing a deficiency. Pregnant and lactating women, vegetarians and vegans, individuals on low-calorie diets, or with health conditions that affect nutrients absorption, with foods allergies are groups at risk.

Our diets often lack nutritious foods groups and of nutrients. Nevertheless, not all micronutrients are equally essential. Linus Pauling Institute suggests a multivitamin supplement for adults, in order to cover 100% of their nutritional needs in vitamins, metals and trace elements.


Steps to choose the right multivitamin

What about the certain need?

Do you just need to add some nutrients to your diet or do you have a deficiency? Are you a 50+ adult or vegetarian?


Is your diet balanced?

If the answer is yes you probably do not need a multivitamin. If no choose one according to Dietary Reference Intakes that are approved by world health and nutrition organizations.

What about the nutritional label?

All ingredients of the multivitamin supplement must be written on the label. Avoid supplements that provide more than 100% of daily requirements, and also those with extra iron and iodine.


What about allergens and excipients?

What out for those ingredients if you have allergies or nutritional intolerances: gluten, sugar, lactose, artificial sweeteners, soy.


For how long I must use a multivitamin?

Your doctor, pharmacist or your nutritionist can advise you. Do not take multivitamins long-term if it is not necessary. There is no extra benefit and also increased doses of nutrients can have adverse effects.


Which form is better for me?

Age, swallowing difficulty and some health conditions such as peptic ulcer determine the right form of your multivitamin.



Age, sex and health state determine daily intake of micronutrients. As a general rule multivitamins must cover 80-100% of Dietary Reference Intakes. Your doctor, pharmacist or your nutritionist can advise you. Multivitamins for adults are not appropriate for children. You can take your multivitamin during the day without restrictions, and better after meals if you have a sensitive stomach.


Side effects

Children, pregnant and lactating women, individuals with renal or liver disease must not take multivitamins without their doctor’s opinion. Also, adults and children with a nutritional deficiency must only take multivitamins after prescription, in order to avoid hyper-dosage. Drugs such as antacids, thyroid, certain antibiotics must be taken 4 hours apart from multivitamins.

Always remind that multivitamins cover micronutrient needs, but they do not replace the normal diet and they are not therapeutic to any health condition. A healthy balanced daily diet is the overall target.


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