What's Really in Your Multivitamin?
There's no question that the right amounts of vitamins and minerals are crucial for optimal health, and many of us are deficient or inadequate without even knowing it.
While it's important to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) – the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient and micronutrient requirements for most healthy people – it's challenging to know if you're getting enough of the right nutrients every day without obsessively tracking every meal and snack.
That's where multivitamin supplements come in.
A multivitamin can provide optimal amounts of micronutrients in forms that your body can absorb. It is a simple, yet often overlooked step, many of us don't realize we should take. As important as it is to remember to take your multivitamin, it's also vital to ensure unhealthy ingredients and fillers aren't sneaking into your multivitamin.
As a celebrity fitness trainer, I've seen thousands of multivitamins on the market. While multivitamins offer nutritional insurance for not-so-perfect modern diets, every multivitamin is not made the same.
The list you'll find below is a great way to weed out multivitamins that may not provide the most health benefits, while helping you find the right one to take for optimal health.
Ingredients to Look For
It's important to note that these ingredients should be included in multivitamins for both men and women. Check the ingredients on your current multi, or use this list as a handy guide when shopping for new ones!
Unfortunately, magnesium is hard to find in most multivitamins. It's a bulky ingredient, making it challenging to fit into pills and capsules.
Magnesium is important for bone health and energy production and may promote better sleep and support resiliency to high-stress levels. Nearly half of Americans lack this essential mineral and feel better once they add it to their rotation.
Blueshift's innovative pod-based, drinkable approach to supplementation means they have more room for bulky ingredients like magnesium. Their Foundations AM+PM formulas both contain magnesium – half the dose in the AM formulation and the second half in the PM, making it even easier to reap all of its benefits.
Aside from helping your body absorb calcium and phosphate from food, Vitamin D3 helps to support healthy immune functioning, helps regulate your mood and works with calcium to maintain skeletal, nerve, and muscular health.
Unfortunately, about 42% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D3. Dairy avoidance, living in a northern latitude, and having a darker skin tone are all risk factors for deficiency. Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, fatigue, and even depressive symptoms.
That's why every Blueshift Foundation (multivitamin and multimineral) AM blend includes the sunshine vitamin in its most bioavailable D3 form.
Check your multivitamin for B-Vitamins, especially B12, B6, and Folate.
B12 is key for energy production, neurological function and helps form DNA and red blood cells. B6 keeps the nervous system, cardiovascular and immune systems healthy. It also helps convert food into energy and is essential for neurotransmitter and red blood cell production. Folate is needed for cell growth, metabolism, and supporting healthy fetal growth.
Every Blueshift AM Foundations multivitamin includes optimal levels of these B-Vitamins in bioavailable forms to energize you and help you kickstart your day.
The more you learn about Choline, the more surprised you may be that most multivitamins on the market don't include this essential nutrient. If it is included, it's often added in low amounts that aren't truly beneficial because, like magnesium, it is a bulky ingredient and hard to fit into pills.
Unfortunately, about 90% of Americans are not getting enough of this micronutrient! This is believed to be, at least in part, due to the "war on the eggs."
Choline is used to form cell membranes and neurotransmitters in the brain that play an important role in memory, mood, and nervous system function. It is also essential for healthy brain development.
Every Blueshift Foundation includes Choline in both AM+PM doses for optimal health.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral and your best friend when it comes to making sure your immune system is working correctly. It's also a key player in metabolic functioning.
Blueshift uses Zinc Glycinate in every AM Foundations formula. Attached to the amino acid glycine, this type of zinc becomes more absorbable and readily available for your body to use.
Calcium is an essential mineral, meaning your body does not produce this nutrient on its own, and it must come from your diet or supplements. It is critical for skeletal health, muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve signaling. It also supports immunity and tissue repair.
Blueshift includes Calcium in their PM Foundations formulas. They use a highly absorbable form, Calcium Citrate, which doesn't require stomach acid for absorption and is easier on your digestive system compared to other forms of calcium.
Now that you've checked your multivitamin to ensure it includes the ingredients above, it's time to learn about fillers and other sneaky ingredients found in many multivitamins on the market.
Ingredients (Fillers) to Avoid
Supplement labels often have a section called "Other Ingredients." This is where you can find out if your current multivitamin includes things like binding agents, coatings and glazes, artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, sweeteners, and fillers.
These "fillers" do exactly what they sound like – they fill space. In other words, they add bulk to your supplements so they don't appear to be half full.
While there is an endless list of fillers these days, we've included a few important ones to watch out for.
This additive is often used in pills and capsules. It's considered a “flow agent” that prevents ingredients from sticking to each other or to the machine that creates the pills.
While generally considered safe, consuming too much of this additive may irritate the mucosal lining of your bowels, resulting in not-so-fun GI issues.
Blueshift Foundations pod-based multivitamins never include this additive, making these drinkable supplements even more appealing to those following a clean lifestyle.
The FDA states that artificial colors: "offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and 'fun' foods."
In other words, they can cover up potential degradation of the active ingredients.
While colors like Red 40, Blue 2, and Yellow 5 may look pretty and make our multivitamins look more appealing (we're looking at you, gummies), if the active ingredients in the vitamin have been degraded by exposure to light, air, moisture, heat, or poor storage conditions, we want to know.
Blueshift Foundations multivitamins, like all of their nutritional supplements, are free of artificial colors.
Added Sugar and Artificial Flavors
Many multivitamins, specifically in gummy form, are full of added sugars. Not only are these sticky added sugars bad for your teeth, but a few grams of sugar here and there add up. Many people find themselves consuming a teaspoon of sugar before the sun even comes up, just from their morning "health boost."
It's also crucial to watch out for sugar alcohols which may disrupt your gastrointestinal lining and wreak havoc on your gut. Always check your label to know what you're consuming.
Blueshift's Foundations steer clear of sneaky, sugary disruptors like cane sugar, tapioca syrup, and dextrose.
Reach for Better Multivitamins
While this list may seem intimidating, it's important to recognize that some of the most popular multivitamins may not be the best choice for you. Plus, taking the time now to learn which brands include optimal dosing and ingredients can make a big difference in your health over time.
Once you find a good multivitamin that's designed for your needs and lifestyle, make it a habit to take it consistently for the best results. While a multivitamin alone doesn't create a healthy lifestyle, it's a great way to supplement a healthy diet and exercise routine to help you feel (and look) your very best over time.
About the Author
Celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto and an Honors Degree in Kinesiology from University of Western Ontario. He is also certified by The American College of Sports Medicine and The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology, and served as an exercise and nutrition scientist for Canada's Department of National Defense.
Pasternak is a New York Times Bestselling Author whose books include 5-Factor Fitness, 5-Factor Diet, The 5-Factor World Diet, The Body Reset Diet, The Body Reset Diet Cookbook, and 5 Pounds. Harley's titles have attained global bestseller status, which has led to translation in 14 languages in over 25 countries around the globe.