It’s a consumer marketplace out there, and multivitamins are no exception. One has only to walk down the supplement aisle of the local pharmacy or grocery store to become instantly innundated with shelves upon shelves of various options. If you take multivitamins yourself, reflect for a moment – how did you choose yours? It turns out that that all multivitamins are not created equal.

If you turn over your multivitamin bottle to examine the label, you’re likely to see a long list of vitamins, and/or minerals listed. Vitamins include the standard vitamins that we think of: vitamin A, several variants of B, C, D, E, folate, and others. Minerals are chemical elements that we need for cellular function, and include iron, copper, zinc, and selenium.

Some vitamins that are available are marketed towards certain age groups. For example, a children’s multivitamin would have a very different composition from an adult multivit. Some formulations are targeted towards adults over age 50, most often because they contain a little more vitamin D for bone protection. There are also particular multivitamins for pregnant women, due to an increased requirement for nutrients such as folate and iron. Within the ‘regular adult’ multivitamins, you will find a wide range of selections, with varying compositions in each one. Some multivitamins contain iron as the only mineral, while some contain a whole host of minerals, including the ones listed above.

So the big question is: How do you know which multivitamin is right for you? The bottom line is that it is important to speak to your doctor to find out what type is best for you. For people who have kidney problems, some multivitamins would not be appropriate. Patients who have had bariatric surgery have very special vitamin requirements, depending on the type of procedure being done. The vitamin D provided in a multivitamin is rarely enough – discuss with your physician how much is right for you. Additional calcium supplementation may be appropriate as well – again, be sure to talk to your doctor!

Dr. Sue © 2010