Today the panorama of the supplement market is very vast and we often find ourselves in difficulty both when it comes to understanding if it is necessary to take a supplement and in choosing the most appropriate supplement within the category of interest. In this short guide we will reflect on what are some of the aspects to consider when choosing a multivitamin supplement.
Common mistakes NOT to make
As anticipated, the food supplements market is very rich, characterized by a multitude of elements that at first glance seem to make the items all the same. The most common mistake when choosing products is to throw yourself headlong into catalogs or websites, without however having clear what we need to look for or what we really need. This attitude often leads us to end up comparing products on the basis of price or to choose the product more driven by the advertising message or worse still to fall into the misconception of “ more is always better ”. In order not to fall into these errors, we must first understand why we should choose to buy a product.
What are multivitamin supplements
Multivitamins are supplements formulated with the aim of providing a supply of both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins useful to meet the needs dictated by deficiencies or increased demands (due to particular conditions, both physiological and not).
The question to ask to understand if we can choose to take a multivitamin is: "Do I really fit into a group of individuals or a portion of the population that can derive real benefits from taking a multivitamin?". So let's see, on the basis of this fundamental question for the choice, some examples of groups of people who may really need to integrate vitamins.
When they are really needed
In some cases, the intake of vitamins is really necessary, to the point that even the guidelines recommend supplementing these micronutrients. Below we list some of the main slices of the population that benefit from it:
- Sportsmen who carry out intense activities with repeated solicitations for several days a week may need a supplement of vitamins. This is especially true if they undergo prolonged periods of calorie restriction . In these periods, in fact, while trying to follow a balanced diet, situations can occur in which the intake of micronutrients is below the recommended levels and the intake of vitamins through a supplement can be essential. In these cases, both the antioxidant action of some vitamins and the contribution to the maintenance of strong structures are important.
- People who, despite not following a restricted calorie regime, are unable to consume adequate quantities of fruit and vegetables, the main sources of vitamins in their diet. Also in this case , the prolonged reduced intake of vitamins can give rise to deficiencies and, if the individual is unable to resume consuming fruit and vegetables and consequently reach an adequate intake of vitamins, supplementation can be considered a excellent strategy. In this way both the antioxidant effect and the adequate quantities are guaranteed to carry out the specific metabolic functions to which the vitamins contribute (and we remember that they are very many).
- The option of supplementing the intake of vitamins can also be considered for women in pre-pregnancy , during pregnancy itself and during the period of breastfeeding of the baby. In these periods, the adequate intake of vitamins is very important for the well-being of mother and child. Folic acid, for example, in the pre-pregnancy phase is very important, essential for the correct development of the fetus, and you should always consult a health professional (such as a gynecologist) who knows how to advise if, what and in what quantity to take it. specific product.
- Older people can benefit from taking a multivitamin as their body's absorbency can be reduced and not all nutrients in the foods they eat are absorbed. An example is the reduced absorption of vitamin B12, which in some cases occurs with advancing age.
- People with malabsorptive pathologies or intolerances that lead to the exclusion of many foods can experience vitamin deficiencies related to the vitamins of which those foods or that category of foods are particularly rich. In this case, supplementation is useful to balance the lack of consumption of specific foods.
- Stressed subjects who need to optimize the intake of micronutrients to optimize cognitive performance, such as students or people who do very demanding jobs from the point of mental life. The integration of a multivitamin can make the difference, guaranteeing the body all the micronutrients to perform the essential enzymatic functions and restore the right energy load.
Once it is clear whether you are in a group of people who can benefit from the intake of vitamins , you can focus on the product to be selected. Since this is a multivitamin it would be advisable for it to contain all the vitamins, both water-soluble and fat-soluble, in adequate quantities. In more particular cases, it is also possible to search for a product that contains only one vitamin: in these cases it is usually the treating physician who, following a clear-cut deficiency or increased need, recommends which and for how long to integrate (as in the specific case of folic acid during pregnancy). The most careful manufacturers to maximize the benefits offer the possibility of choosing products with specific formulations for men and women, who have different and precise needs. The quality of the product must be ensured by the presence of certifications that highlight the quality of raw materials and production processes. In this sense, the choice should be directed towards producers who guarantee the consumer access to this information: transparency in the field of food supplements is always synonymous with reliability and value.
As we have observed, the choice to take a multivitamin must always be contextualized to an actual need and one should not choose to take supplements without first having ascertained that these are necessary. In this first phase it is advisable to contact a competent health professional, who knows and can analyze the situation in which you find yourself and suggest whether to supplement with a multivitamin. Then you can choose the product either with the help of the professional or independently, always taking care to verify that the quality of the product is guaranteed by appropriate certifications.
Bibliography - Sitography
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Nutrition and Athletic Performance, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 543-568 doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852