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Not all vitamins are equal: why you should care

When it comes to choosing supplements, the cheapest isn’t always the best.

It is often said that less is more, but not when it comes to multivitamins. Premium brands tend to come at a higher cost for good reasons, and with multivitamins they are due to a broader number and quality selection of ingredients. Here are some questions to ask when shopping for multivitamins.

What do they contain?

Carefully reading the labels is a great starting point for navigating the rows and aisles of supplements available in stores. Besides ensuring that formulas contain the basic vitamins and minerals, some well-balanced multivitamins also come with added extras, such as antioxidants derived from natural herbs.

As highlighted by Dr Leslie Tay’s sampling of medicinal soups, the use of herbs, among other ingredients, for their medicinal purposes, is centuries old, making supplements comprising a blend of essential vitamins and antioxidants somewhat of a healthy treat.

The quality of ingredients is another important consideration, as lower-cost alternatives are often loaded with synthetic chemicals, which are not easily absorbed by the body. For example, vitamin E in its synthetic form is dl-alpha tocopherol. What you would want, instead, is d-alpha tocopherol. Another thing to look out for is quantity. When it comes to B vitamins, a low content of less than 10mg will not produce the desired effect on bodily resistance.

Can you trust the brand?

Do your research as well as look out for clinical studies and international certifications such as from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, says Dr Theri Griego Raby, founder and medical director of The Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern.

Similarly, Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, recommends opting for a brand that has been certified by a third-party testing agency.

With the number of choices on the market, brands promoting their products in Singapore should also comply with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) requirements.

What are your needs?

Beyond taking a multivitamin to fill in a nutritional gap, consider your personal needs, changing dietary requirements and individual lifestyle choices.

There are supplements tailored for men and women, as well as age. For example, multivitamins aimed at women in their childbearing years often contain higher doses of nutrients such as iron and folic acid, as these help prevent birth defects. Those targeting men, on the other hand, don’t often include iron.

If you have dietary restrictions, you can also select multivitamins without added lactose, yeast, egg or artificial flavours. Above all else, eating a healthy balanced diet provides the best source of nutrients.

The next time that you’re shopping for multivitamins, bear in mind these tips for choosing a premium multivitamin that can support your health and well-being. You’ll be on your way to a happier and healthier you.