Although we are talking about supplements and multivitamins, it’s important to stress that it is always ideal to get our nutrition through whole foods. If we can maintain a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, fish, lean proteins, and healthy oils we likely don’t need a multivitamin to fill in the gaps. However, this blog series is all about being realistic and what to do if you don’t meet your nutrition needs with food every day. In this case, a multivitamin could be beneficial. So how do we pick the right one?
1. Look for USP mark on the bottle.
Primarily, you want to have peace of mind that what you’re taking contains what it says on the bottle. Unfortunately, since the supplement industry isn’t regulated there is no process supplement companies must go through to get a stamp of approval before hitting the shelf. They simply must prove that it isn’t harmful. Even then, after some time supplements will be removed or recalled due to safety concerns.
When considering a multivitamin or any supplement, it’s worth taking your time to do some research. Looking for the USP mark can save you time! According to quality-supplement.org “The USP Verified Mark on the label indicated that the product: Contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amount. Does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants. Will break down and release into the body within specified amount of time.” Here is a full list of USP approved supplements.
Note: even if there isn’t a USP mark it doesn’t mean it’s not a quality supplement, it just means you’ll have to do some of the research on your own.
2. Choose whole food supplements over synthetic.
Synthetic nutrients are created in a lab and whole food supplements, as the name suggest is pulled from natural sources. The best way to tell the difference is looking at the source of the nutrient. For example, most of us have likely seen Vitamin C as ascorbic acid – this is a good sign it’s synthetic.
So why does it matter? Vitamins and minerals are complex and have several components. In our example, ascorbic acid is only one component of the whole vitamin C complex. Selecting a whole foods supplement will ensure you are getting the entire complex nutrient you’re looking for which helps with absorption and function once in the body.
3. Do your research on the brand or company.
You want to make sure the brand you choose is reputable and practice with integrity. Looking at their history can be a good indicator. You want to choose a company that is responsible. Choosing supplements that are GMP certified can be a good indicator. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are guidelines that provide a system of processes, procedures, and documentation to assure a product has the identity, strength, composition, quality and purity that appear on its label.
These are three quick shortcuts to selecting a high-quality multivitamin or supplement. In my opinion if you decide to incorporate a multivitamin into your routine, it’s worth making the investment and choosing a high quality one, which many not always be the cheapest one on the shelf. My personal choice is Rainbow Light women’s multivitamin.