In the first part of this article, I spoke with experts on how to get the most from your multivitamins and minerals. We even discussed whether or not we need them at all.
It’s a huge industry, often driven by misinformation. In my first article, I started a list of eight myths to watch out for when it comes to getting the right vitamins and minerals inside you. Here are the remaining six red flags to keep in mind.
3. Is liquid form is better than a tablet?
According to Tod Cooperman, MD, and president of www.consumerlab.com, the form does usually not matter.
“You can do your own test on tablets at home. Put tablets in warm vinegar—swish it around—keep it warm for 30-45 minutes—most of the pills should break apart. If they don’t, the product may not be delivering what it promises,” he says.
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The test is only for regular pills, not for chewables, time-release or enteric-coated pills.
When you buy them—check best-by date—make sure you use up the content of the bottle by the time you reach that date. The best to store is in cool, dry place away from sun. However, fish oil/probiotic should be refrigerated.
Susan B. Dopart, MS,RD, C.D.E, author of the book A Recipe for Life, http://www.susandopart.com/store/, also advises not to fall in the trap of the “natural” and “synthetic” claims
“If a vitamin supplement were truly ‘natural,’ it would cost so much than no one could afford to buy it,” she says.
4. Does price matter?
“Price does not necessarily correspond with quality. Some good quality vitamins and minerals are inexpensive. There is usually no reason to spend a lot,” says Cooperman.
In one of the latest reports from www.consumerlab.com, some of the lowest cost approved supplements by category were:
General Adult: Nature’s way Alive! Daily Energy Multi-Vitamin Multi Mineral (12 cents per day)
Men’s: Berkley & Jensen Men’s Daily (3 cents per day) and One A day Men’s Health Formula (8 cents per day)
Prenatal: Rite Aid Prenatal Tablets with Folic Acid (4 cents per day)
Senior women’s: Nature Made Multi for Her 50+ (12 cents per day)
Children’s: Flintstones Plus Bone Building Support (14 cents per day)
5. Supplements work when taken daily
Dopart affirms that “you do not have to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for every vitamin and mineral every day – look at what you eat over the course of the week.”
6. “Take at the same time so you don’t forget”
It’s not the time you take your multi what matters most. It’s how you take it. These are general recommendations that the experts make when popping your multi:
-- When taking calcium, do not take it with other minerals since it will overpower other minerals in terms of absorption.
-- Drink plenty of water when taking calcium to avoid any constipation side effect. Excess of vitamin C – e.g., over 1,000 mg – can lead to an increased risk for kidney stones. So does excess calcium. Vitamin C will increase the absorption of iron found in plant-based foods – nuts, grain and vegetables – while calcium, chocolate, coffee, tea and antacids can decrease the absorption of iron.
-- When taking Vitamin D, do it with a large meal. Studies show that increase the absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin. Calcium, iron/vitamin C can all interfere with prescription medications
7. One-size fits all
There is a reason why you see a multi according to the age, gene and other health concerns. However, beware that while experts may recommend taking a multi, the majority of them do not offer the same recommendation when supplements have herbs and other components added that are not vitamins and minerals.
Cooperman highlights that it’s very important to stick to what’s right for age and gender.
“You don’t want a child to take his or her mom’s multi," he said. "Similarly, men and women have different needs for iron and other minerals.”
8. Energy boost
Still, many people believe that when running low in energy, popping a multi will be the panacea to their problem. Dopart, though, says that when lack of energy is the problem, it usually relies on altering their macro-nutrient intake – like carbohydrates, protein and fat – rather than their micro-nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
Marta Montenegro inspires people to live healthy lives by giving them the tools and strength to find one’s inner athlete through her personal website MartaMontenegro.com. She created SOBeFiT, a national fitness magazine for men and women, and the Montenegro Method DVD workout series – a program she designed for getting results in just 21 days by exercising 21 minutes a day . Marta is a strength and conditioning coach and serves as an adjunct professor of exercise physiology at Florida International University.