Multinutrient supplements may be taken for a variety of reasons,
These include some of the following:
- To help prevent deficiencies brought about through imbalances in the diet, For example, older adults are at risk of malnutrition(1). A person recently diagnosed as coeliac may find a sufficiently mixed diet difficult to get if they are learning how to cope without bread and wheat products in the diet.
- May help improve the Immune System, especially in the elderly. Vitamin C, Antioxidants and other nutrients commonly found in many multivitamins and minerals have a role in our immune system(2).
- People with high Stress levels may benefit from a multinutrient supplement(3).
- To help meet extra nutritional needs required at certain times, for example Iron plus vitamins C and B12 to help reduce risk of Anaemia.
- Helping to ensure an optimum level of some nutrients in the body. Research shows that the body can use certain nutrients at higher levels than are commonly found in the diet alone.
- The use of a multinutrient supplement can help ensure that (synergistic) factors are present where the diet may be lacking, for example Vitamin D for Calcium and Vitamin C for non-haem iron absorption, and so on,
- To ensure optimum use of Essential Fatty Acids, by providing important nutrients (especially Zinc, Selenium, vitamins B6 and C) necessary for conversion of linoleic acid to gamma linoleic acid to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that help regulate hormone balance, blood pressure, and can have a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
- A multinutrient supplement may be taken to help compensate for losses brought about by food production methods, such as:
1. Intensive farming methods causing over-use of soil.
2. The selection of crops for shape, size, colour and the ability to grow in locations not naturally suitable.
3. Use of nitrates, phosphates and so on that impair uptake of some minerals.
4. Methods of transportation and time spent in various types of storage.
5. Food processing methods such as chopping peeling, and mechanically recovering.
6. Food preserveing methods like canning, bottling, drying and the addition of food preserving agents. Minced beef containing Sulphur dioxide (preservative) loses 90% of the Thiamin within 48 hours. Freezing food is not as detrimental as some other food preserving methods.
A varied diet rich in unprocessed foods, full of fresh fruit and vegetables, should provide all the vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy. However, sometimes we skip meals eat on the run or consume too much "junk food", either because we are too busy or too tired.
Various people have an increased risk of Vitamin And mineral deficiancies in the diet, these include:
- Pregnant and breast-feeding women
- The elderley and those with poor appetites
- People on a restricted diet: slimmers, coeliacs, food intolerances
- Faddy eaters - children, teenagers and so on
- People whose diet consists mostly of processed or refined foods
- Menstruating women
- Smokers and drinkers
- Athletes and highly active people
>li>Vegetarians and vegans
A multivitamin and mineral supplement should be a first consideration for people who are feeling generally run down or ?under the weather?.
Additional supplements such as: Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Antioxidants, B complex, or herbs may be safely suggested to complement a multinutrient. Extra calcium may be suggested as its molecular size is such that it is bulky and may be required in larger quantities than a multivitamin and mineral can usually supply.
Points to consider when choosing between brands include:
A)Type of supplement
TIMED RELEASE is suitable for most people, especially if they are healthy and have an efficient Digestive System. An ?insurance policy? type supplement, timed release provides long term protection for athletes, active people and those slightly under the weather.
Timed release formulas extend the time that high levels of water-soluble vitamins B and C are available to the body, and absorption is greatly improved.
Timed release formulas should undergo a dissolution test which meets British Pharmacopoeia standards to ensure the tablets dissolve over a six hour period. A timed release tablet must be taken with a main meal.
STANDARD RELEASE supplements are ideal for everybody, especially people who are ill, convalescing, eating small meals or those who have digestive problem. A standard release product will release its nutrient content very quickly, allowing optimum absorption and utilisation when taken with a meal.
Standard Release supplements are ideal when:
- Sudden high levels of physical or mental Stress are likely, a standard release multivitamin could be taken two or three times a day, well spaced apart.
- Where a person?s digestion time appears to be fast, a standard release would be more beneficial than a timed release because the timed release tablet may not disintegrate totally before elimination.
- Stress decreases digestive efficiency by reducing secretion of hydrochloric (HCl) and slowing transit time. This results in food not being broken down well and therefore overall absorption of nutrients is poor.
B) Relative strength of a product
Particular notice should be taken of the Antioxidants, B vitamins and Zinc content of the product or whichever nutrient of which the consumer wants the most. It is worth noting that certain nutrients like Calcium and minerals combined with Amino Acids from protein (to maximise absorption), cannot be found in great quantity in a multinutrient formula because they take up a lot of space in the tablet.
C) Suggested intake
Directions should be clearly marked. One or two per day with food or the main meal, depending on directions for use is the accepted norm.
What form do the nutrients take? If the product contains minerals bound to protein, the quantity of mineral may appear to be less, but the absorption rate will be higher, gastric irritation will be reduced as well. Amino acid chelated minerals mimic the body?s absorption process by binding the mineral to protein. The mineral is then absorbed through the amino acid absorption sites, thus increasing the bioavailability of the mineral, and reducing wastage.
E) Range of nutrients
Products vary enormously. If additional factors are included, are they in meaningful amounts? It may be helpful to read the label thoroughly, and look for factors like choline, inositol, methionine, Bioflavonoids and digestive aids before making a final decision.
F) Quality of ingredients
Does the label declare that the ingredients are hypoallergenic? Are the formulations free from sucrose (sugar), lactose (milk sugar), salt, yeast, wheat, gluten and peanut derivatives? Are there any artifical colours or flavours?
Diet and lifestyle can influence health and well being. Nutrition requirements vary depending on an individual's pace of life and according to the existing state of health, it is important that the diet contains the correct amount of vitamins, mineral and other nutrients to match the needs of each individual. For those who do not achieve this for any reason, or for groups who are at risk of dietary deficiency, taking a multinutrient supplement may be a valuable addition to the lifestyle.
1. Clin Infect Dis 2000: 11; 33 (11): 1892-900
2. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Aug; 66 (2); 478S-484S
3. S Afr Med J 2000; 90 (12); 1216-23
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