How to Pick a Good Multivitamin

Part 2 of a 3-part multivitamin series

All multivitamins are not created equal! There is not one multivitamin that is appropriate for everyone.

Increasingly, most health-conscious consumers are taking a multivitamin, but oftentimes the specific forms of vitamins contained in their multivitamin are not the best-absorbed or utilized forms.

Where to Start – Micronutrient Testing

Picture3Ultimately, the only way to truly know which multivitamin is best for you is to test your micronutrient levels. We are all genetically unique, eat at least slightly different than anyone else we know, have different exercise and stress levels and different absorption rates. All of these factors (and more) combine to create unique nutrient needs. At Leaves of Life, we test most patients’ nutrient levels (if you’re not testing, your ultimately guessing, after all) to ensure that nothing is missed.  Most patients who are not taking a quality multivitamin have multiple areas where they are deficient.

The most common nutrient deficiencies we see in our practice are:

  • Zinc: Deficiency can cause or contribute to depression. Zinc activates more than 200 enzymes involved in cell regulation, immune function, pH balance, DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, lipid metabolism, wound healing, thyroid function and digestion.
  • B12: The most common symptom of deficiency is fatigue, closely followed by depression.  Blood testing is NOT an accurate way to assess B12 status unless measuring methylmalonic acid.
  • Vitamin C: Crucial for collagen and elastin formation (the main structural proteins in skin, cartilage and blood vessels), necessary for production of adrenalin, noradrenalin, cortisol and carnitine.
  • Chromium: It takes 4 chromium molecules for each insulin molecule to plug into cell receptors and allow glucose to enter the cell for energy production.  Low levels are highly associated with elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Vitamin D: Deficiency increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, several different types of cancer, depression, auto-immune disease and loss of bone.

For more information on micronutrient testing offered by Leaves of Life, check out our lab testing menu.

What to Avoid

Picture4Look at the label and avoid multivitamins that contain the following:

  • Synthetic vitamin E: Listed as dl-alpha tocopherol,  synthetic vitamin E is poorly absorbed and utililzed in the body.  D-alpha tocopherol is natural vitamin E. One letter makes all the difference – just remember “L” stands for lousy. Choose d-alpha tocopherol, or even better, if purchasing a vitamin E as a stand-alone vitamin, choose one that contains all 4 tocopherols and all 4 tocotrienols since vitamin E is actually a complex.
  • Calcium carbonate: Is the chemical name for sidewalk chalk, and is poorly absorbed, making it likely to show up in bone spurs, kidney stones and arterial plaque.  Oyster shell and coral calcium are simply other forms of calcium carbonate, and are best avoided.  Instead, choose citrate, gluconate, amino-acid chelate, microcrystaline hydroxyapatite calcium (MCHC) or TRAACS chelated calcium.  There will still be specific forms some people absorb better than others, so testing is best to assess doseage and absorption.
  • Food colorings: After all, there’s no reason to supplement colorings, and many reasons not to – they’re just one more toxin for your body to deal with. So if you can get over the “embarrassment” of being seen taking a brownish/greenish multivitamin, you’re better off.
  • Folic acid: Occurs nowhere in nature and must be converted by the MTHFR enzyme into folate before it is usable by the body.  We find that nearly half of our patients don’t make this conversion well (based on genetic testing).  Choose folate, folinic acid or methyltetrahydrofolate (sometimes called MTHF) instead.
  • If there are no chemical forms listed on the label, assume the company has nothing to brag about! The better forms of vitamins are more costly to incorporate, so companies that use them want you to know.

The next post will discuss the most common mistakes people make when taking a multivitamin, and the basics we should all consider taking regularly.

Until next time, wishing you good health!


Copyright Patty Shipley. All rights reserved.

One thought on “How to Pick a Good Multivitamin

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