Vitamin Junkeys

How to Choose a Multivitamin Ep 51


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How to Choose a Multivitamin
Vitamin Junkeys Episode #51 (running time 8:38)
Date: November 10, 2009
Podsafe Music: Ice Cream by Christopher Dale Courtesy of MeVIO Music Alley
Show hosts: Jennifer Lyall & Dr. Jean Jacques (Dr. JJ) Dugoua, ND HBSc PhD (Cand.)


What are some important things to look for when choosing a multivitamin? How do I pick a multi-vitamin?

What ingredients should be avoided in multi-vitamins?

Should I look at the Recommended Daily Value percentage on my vitamin bottle?

Does it matter what form you take a multivitamin in- in a capsule, in a tablet or in a liquid?

Does a man need a different formula than a woman?

Do you need to take a different multivitamin at different stages in life?


Today, we’re going to be talking about how to pick a good multivitamin.  But before we get into that, we’re going to see what JJ’s taking today.

Surprise, surprise I am taking a multivitamin, woo-hoo.   So, what’s different about the multivitamin I’m taking today is that this multivitamin doesn't only contain multivitamins and multiminerals, but also contains something called coenzyme Q10, which is great for your heart.  It’s great for anti-aging.  It’s also great for energy.  So, this is a wonderful super supplement.  So, I’ll talk a bit more later on in terms of the different multivitamins with things like coQ10.  So there we go.

What are some important things to look for when choosing a multivitamin? How do I pick a multi-vitamin?

When you’re picking a multivitamin, you want to look for three things.  

1. What Vitamins are included

2. What Minerals are included

3. What other ingredients are in the multivitamin.

You want to make sure it has all the water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and all the B vitamins, so B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid, biotin, etc.

And then you want to look at the minerals.  Now what’s very important about your minerals is that you want to make sure that the minerals are in the citrate form.  The citrate form is best absorbed and the most absorbed form of the minerals that you could take in a supplement.  So, you want to look for things that’ll say calcium citrate, zinc citrate, iron citrate.  These are the most absorbable forms of the minerals.

And then you want to look at the other things that are added.  So I just mentioned how coQ10 could be added in your multivitamin.  You may look for things such as gingko could be added, ginseng could be added.  Some amino acids maybe added so you could get broccoli, you could berries.  It depends on the multivitamin.  You could get a lot of super foods that are going in these multivitamins, which really adds to giving you more of a therapeutic benefit.

What ingredients should be avoided in multi-vitamins?

You should be careful of "other ingredients".   Now these other ingredients are what are used to make the capsule or are used to make the tablet.  So, things you definitely don’t want to see are sugar.  Particularly, you see this a lot in kids vitamins and obviously you know what happens when you give a kid sugar right?  So try to avoid that.  So if you are giving a kid a vitamin, normally it’s going to be chewable.  Because if they’re too young, they’re not going to take a big capsule or a big tablet so it has to be a chewable.  But you could get like cherry syrup as a sweetener.  There are a lot of natural sweeteners out there that are quite good.  So no sugar.

Make sure it doesn’t contain any dyes.  So you look for yellow dye number 2 or 6.  You know things that say red dye number 4.  You want to make sure you avoid all of that.  You want to make sure you avoid anything that sounds a bit too chemically like titanium dioxides.  So that’s a coating that they use around the pill.  Also too, you want to avoid things that seem like they really shouldn’t be there like aluminum or tin.  You want to make sure those are not in your multivitamin.

Jennifer attended a session a few weeks ago and we looked at the listing of a very common main brand of vitamin, a multivitamin that you just get at the drugstore.  And the naturopath was looking through the ingredients and there was tin in it and then there’s all the food dyes.  And he’s like, “Okay this is why you do not buy this one.”  You’re better off spending more money on something that’s going to have more good stuff in it.

Definitely.  You get what you pay for.  And some people, you know, they don’t want to take fish oils, they don’t want to take probiotics, they want to just take one multivitamin a day and that’s it.  So if you’re going to do that then make sure you get the best bang for your buck and really speak with someone and get like a really, really good multivitamin that encompasses all that.


Should I look at the Recommended Daily Value percentage on my vitamin bottle?

That’s the daily amount that’s required that should be part of your diet.  Because you’re taking a multivitamin for more therapeutic benefits to really prevent disease, you want to have the highest number possible.  So I don’t usually use them as a marker, I use it more really of the vitamins to really match what I’m trying to help with the patient’s symptoms or what diseases I’m trying to prevent.

Does it matter what form you take a multivitamin in- in a capsule, in a tablet or in a liquid?

Yes and no.  The most absorbable is liquid, however challenges with liquid is shorter shelf life so it tends to go bad more often.  The other challenge with liquid is taste.  Sometimes they don’t taste the greatest.

Then next are capsules.  Capsules are great.  They’re usually very well absorbed.  However, if you’re a vegetarian, obviously you’d want a vegecap versus a gelatin cap ‘cause the gelatin is animal based.

And tablets; tablet is the more tougher to absorb; however the benefit of tablet is that a lot more ingredients can be compressed into a tablet versus a capsule.  So for example for every tablet you take, you may have to take two capsules to match what you’re getting in that tablet.  So it makes you having to take a lot more pills and some people don’t like that.

So they all have their pros and cons.

Does a man need a different formula than a woman?

Yes, depending on their age.  The big difference is the iron content.  Men don’t need to take iron usually.  What you’ll see is on a man’s multi it will be free of iron.  Women, from the age of their first period to menopause, should be taking iron.  And then after that they’ll get multis that are usually higher in calcium and also they’re iron free.

Do you need to take a different multivitamin at different stages in life?

So for example a woman who is going through pregnancy, then you have a prenatal multivitamin.  The big issue with the prenatal multivitamin is that you decrease the amount of vitamin A because if you have too much vitamin A then it could cause birth defects.  Plus they are designed to have doses of the vitamins and the minerals are in line with providing safety during pregnancy.  Another example is that the folic acid level will be higher in a prenatal vitamin.

Today, we’ve covered basics of what you should look for in multivitamin, what you should not have.  And it sounds like it’s good to even just check in with your healthcare practitioner just to make sure you choose the right one.


If you would like to find an alternative healthcare practitioner to help you address a health issue, you can find a naturopath, holistic nutritionist and other practitioners in your community through the Find a Practitioner link on our website

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Camera: Jerome Marrin,  Jerome Marrin Media Production 
Editor: Jerome Marrin,  Jerome Marrin Media Production
Sound Recordist: Jeffery Magat, Eqtion 


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Join Jennifer Lyall and Naturopath, Dr. JJ Dugoua as they have fun exploring alternative therapies and healthy living. Weekly episodes are released every Tuesday.

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