There’s no substitute for a healthy diet, but picking the best multivitamin and mineral formula can be a smart way to supplement one. The key to reaping the potential benefits is to know what ingredients—and in what amounts—to look for on the label. (Research suggests that higher-than-recommended amounts of select nutrients may actually be detrimental to health.)
For women seeking a good multi, Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients (Rodale), and nutrition consultant and co-founder of Bazilian’s Health Clinic in San Diego, offers the information in the screened box on nutrients commonly found in daily supplements. Beyond these, some ingredients are best avoided altogether, Bazilian says. “You don’t want a lot of extras—avoid multis that have added herbs, mega-doses of select nutrients, or boosted antioxidants or proprietary ‘formulas,’” she recommends. “There’s a time and place for properly prescribed herbs, but not in your multi.”
To find products that live up to their labels, check out the unbiased Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplements Review at ConsumerLab.com. And keep in mind that you don’t have to go it alone. “Consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for specific questions and guidance,” Bazilian suggests. Your needs can vary based on age, your state of health, any medications you may be taking and other variables. Be sure to ask your doctor for a recommendation if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, too.
Whatever formula you end up taking, don’t overlook the importance of getting essential nutrients primarily from your diet. “Supplement carefully if you do and focus first on foods,” Bazilian advises.
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