What are Multi-vitamins?
Multi-vitamins are nothing but dietary supplements that provide essential vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements. They are available in a lot of forms which can be categorized as tablets, capsules, pastilles, powders, liquids, and injectable formulations. Injectable formulations are the only form of multi-vitamins which are administered and available under medical supervision, other than that all forms of multi-vitamins are recognized as a category of food by the UN authority of food standard.
Scientific evidence indicates that multivitamins do not prevent chronic ailments like cancer and heart diseases. Even though, there may be specific people who may benefit from these supplements (for example, people with poor nutrition or the ones with high risk of macular degeneration).
Your body’s natural defenses against cell damage can be strengthened by the help of this special group of vitamins and minerals called antioxidants. Your body’s natural defense system against the by-products created by these cells while generating energy relies on the use of antioxidant vitamins like beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C and E and antioxidant minerals such as selenium, copper, zinc and manganese.
Products, Components and their Roles
Multivitamins are often formulated and are made keeping different consumer sectors in mind, such as prenatal, children, mature or 50+, men’s, women’s, diabetic or stress. These multivitamin formulas are available as tablets, capsules, bulk powder, or liquid.
Compositional variation in various brands offers substantial consumer choices. The UN food and drug administration allows a multivitamin to be called “high potency” if at least two-thirds of its nutrients have at least 100 percent of the daily value (DV). High potency usually means substantially increased vitamin C and B, with some other enhanced vitamin and mineral levels. Basic commercial multivitamin supplement products often contain the following ingredients:
Vitamin A: This vitamin is found in two forms: Retinol and Beta carotene. Vitamin A helps improve night vision, enhances skin quality. It also strengthens your immune system.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is found in two main forms: cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol. Vitamin D helps maintain and enhance the growth of your bones and teeth.
Vitamin E: This vitamin is found as a group of compounds called tocopherols. Vitamin E provides protects cell membranes and fats from oxidative damage.
Vitamin K: This vitamin is found as a group of compounds, including phylloquinone. Vitamin K assists and is required for normal blood clotting and energy metabolism.
Vitamin B1: This vitamin is found in thiamin. Vitamin B1 helps in producing adequate energy by metabolizing carbohydrates.
Vitamin B2: This vitamin is found in riboflavin. Vitamin B2 helps utilize energy acquired from fats and proteins.
Niacin: Also known as vitamin PP (nicotinic acid) helps enhance energy metabolism.
Pantothenic Acid: Also known as vitamin B5 helps enhances energy metabolism and production of neurotransmitters which assist in normal functioning of the nervous system.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin is found as a group of compounds including pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 assist in protein metabolism.
Vitamin B12: This vitamin is found as a group of compounds including cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin. Vitamin B12 helps enhance red blood cell production, DNA synthesis and enhances the functioning of the nervous system.
Folic acid: also known as vitamin B9 or M. Folic acid helps in enhancing the production of red blood cells and DNA synthesis.
Biotin: Also known as vitamin H helps in fat and protein metabolism.
Vitamin C: This vitamin is found as a group of compounds, including ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps maintain connective tissues (including tendons, ligaments and cartilage). It also assists in quickly healing wounds, producing hormones, maintaining the immune system.
Sodium: Helps regulate body fluids and is involved in energy release, functioning of nerves and muscle contraction.
Potassium: Is used in the body's fluid balance and is involved in membrane functions, muscle function and reduces blood pressure.
Calcium: For bones and teeth, blood clotting, hormone secretion, muscle and nerve function.
Magnesium: Involved in muscle tone and activates enzymes.
Iron: Necessary for the manufacture of hemoglobin in blood (red cells) oxygen transport and transfer to tissues, activates enzymes.
Zinc: For growth, bone metabolism, activation of enzymes, release of vitamin A from liver, immune system, taste and insulin storage.
Copper: Essential for enzyme function, especially blood formation, bone metabolism, immune system, nerve function and energy metabolism.
Manganese: Necessary for enzyme activation and cell structure (works with calcium and iron).
Molybdenum: Involved in enzyme functions.
Selenium: Have an enzyme function protecting cell membranes and fats from oxidative damage (works with vitamin E).
Chromium: Enhances the action of insulin on glucose uptake by cells.
Iodine: A necessary component of thyroid hormones.
Phosphorus: Accommodates energy stores, bones, membrane function and growth.
Why should you consume Multi-vitamins?
Multivitamins are not absolute substitutes for healthy food or a healthy lifestyle but they can sure provide a nutritional back-up for a less-than-ideal diet. “If your diet lacks whole food groups or if you don’t eat enough variety of foods- you would benefit from a once-daily multivitamin”, says Karen Ansel, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Experts might not agree about the effects of multivitamins. But, in bridging nutrient gaps, it’s reasonable to assume that multivitamins not only support general health, but they may help head off chronic conditions or other health risks.
Who should consume Multi-vitamins?
Men, women, children and elderly all can benefit from consuming multivitamins daily. Our bodies do require certain nutrients that we simply can’t make on our own in order to function properly. Reasons like strict dieting, poor appetite, changing nutritional needs, or less-than-healthy food choices most people don’t get the nutrients they need from food alone. Thus taking a multivitamin is safe and an easy way to fill the small nutritional gaps that you may face on a daily basis.
How to select Multi-vitamins for yourself?
Like we said multivitamins are generally formulated to cater the nutritional needs of different audiences at various stages of life. With changing situation and needs a well-chosen multivitamin can ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need as you age.
For women: These multivitamins are designed for women who are in their child-bearing years. These include nutrients like iron and folic acid that help reduce birth defects in women capable of becoming pregnant.
For men: These multivitamins are formulated to fulfill the nutrient requirements of adult men who are in their 50s and they contain higher doses of certain vitamins and minerals.
For seniors: These are especially formulated for men and women who are over the age of 50. Absorption slows down for a few nutrients like calcium, vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin D after you cross 50. Thus these formulas help in easy absorption and fulfill your requirements.