There are many vitamin complexes available on the market of dietary supplements - multivitamins, vitamin and mineral sets dedicated to various groups, e.g. athletes, people with thyroid diseases, overworked... Who should take a vitamin complex? How to choose the best vitamins?
Vitamin complexes - who should take them?
Polish people are among the nations that buy the most OTC drugs and dietary supplements. We like to support ourselves, as well as to take good vitamins. But is it right?
The choice of vitamins for adults is huge. Nowadays you can buy a vitamin complex for every single problem - weakened hair and nails, sleep problems, memory before an exam session, for athletes, for pregnant women, for male fertility...The list is practically endless. It leads to the question: do I need a separate vitamin complex for all of this? Or is it better to take a multivitamin and not worry about anything else?
There is a popular phrase: „Jack of all trades is a master of none”. The same applies to vitamin and mineral preparations. There is no such thing as a single best vitamin for everyone because every organism has slightly different needs, everyone lives in different conditions and eats differently. Therefore, it is impossible to create a ranking of vitamins recommended for everyone under all circumstances.
The primary source of vitamins and minerals should be a varied diet rich in vegetables, fruit, cereals, whole grain products, eggs, fish, nuts and healthy oils. If you see that your diet is not good enough, it lacks colour, you eat monotonously, mainly the same products, you eat irregularly or you eat random products - then a vitamin complex is certainly for you. In certain population groups, it is very difficult to cover the demand for vitamins and minerals with the diet on its own. Such people should take vitamin supplements. Of course, not just random ones, but those dedicated to a particular group. A vitamin complex for a pregnant woman has a different composition than for an elderly person with a reduced appetite.
When is it advisable to take a vitamin complex?
- In case of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the body.
- Definitely for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Smokers, frequent alcohol and drug users.
- When following a low calorie weight loss diet.
- For older people, who are often chronically ill and have problems with appetite.
- When following a vegan diet, sometimes also a vegetarian one.
- For women who menstruate a lot.
- People with digestive and absorption disorders.
- After bariatric surgery.
How to choose the best vitamins on the market?
We already know that ranking vitamins is impossible because the needs of the people taking them are too varied. However, there are some unchanging criteria that help you choose the best vitamins on the market.
Looking for the best vitamins, you need to focus on three criteria:
- dosage – ideally one or two tablets should cover the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals;
- form – supplementation makes sense if the vitamin set contains their bioavailable forms. Only high absorption enables the actual use of vitamins and minerals contained in the complex. It does not matter that one multivitamin tablet contains 300 mg of magnesium oxide since magnesium oxide is only absorbed up to 3%. It is more beneficial to take B vitamins in a methylated form because selenium will be absorbed better in the form of selenomethionine than sodium selenate. Such analysis should be done for each component of the vitamin complex;
- exclusions – some components of vitamin and mineral packs block or completely exclude the absorption of each other.
The best vitamins for adults are complex suited to your body's needs, not bought blindly without analysing your symptoms. The best-absorbed vitamins in tablets are slightly more expensive than those with few active ingredients and low bioavailability. Remember, even a high-quality vitamin and mineral set can be harmful if you take a supplement that does not match your needs.
Vitamins for men and women - what is the difference?
In the offer of dietary supplements, there are multivitamins designed for women and men. They differ slightly from each other in their composition. In preparations for men, the doses of vitamins and minerals can be higher than in vitamin complexes for women, because the demand for these components among men is higher (mainly due to body weight). The distinction between complexes of vitamins and minerals dedicated to women and men is also due to the fact that women may have deficiencies of other components than men.
The most visible examples involve folic acid and iron. Women are much more in need of their supplementation because folic acid is essential for normal pregnancy, while the iron is lost with menstrual blood. Women are also more prone to calcium deficiencies, especially after menopause. Vitamin complexes for men contain potassium in larger quantities to support the cardiovascular system (cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death among men), zinc to support male fertility, plant extracts such as ginseng and ginger to improve vitality, as well as sabal palm to strengthen hair. In fact, many men complain about their hair falling out with age.
Vitamin supplements do not necessarily have to be gender-specific. However, ready-made vitamin sets sometimes make it easier to ensure the intake of all necessary substances in the right doses.