Search Ask the Dietitian
Where can I find a dietitian who is smart about vitamin supplements?
I have been discussing with doctors this issue of the vitamins, but none could give me that convincing explanation and advice as you did. What you say make lot of sense i.e. making expensive urine. Thanks a lot.
The reason I said you would make expensive urine is your body absorbs about 15% from a vitamin supplement, assuming you don't have a deficiency for a particular nutrient. The rest is excreted in your urine.
Are multivitamins helpful or harmful?
If you eat more than 1600 calories and a variety of food, you may be wasting your money and making some very expensive urine. Though, taking one multivitamin per day that has 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamins and minerals will not hurt you.
If you are consuming less than 1600 calories per day, you are not getting all the vitamins and minerals you need. In that case, I would suggest you take a multivitamin that has 100% of the RDA for all vitamins and minerals.
I'd like to know what multivitamin contains the highest content of vitamin A, D, E, K. I would like to know where I could find this multivitamin.
I cannot recommend one specific brand. In the US, multivitamins usually contain only 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowances. Usually only 17 nutrients (protein, vitamin A, D, E, C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folacin (folic acid), B12, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine and selenium) plus some other nutrients are included. Vitamin K (involved in blood clotting) is only available by prescription because of toxicity.
To get higher dosages (greater than 100%) of vitamins or minerals, you would have to purchase each separately. Some, including Vitamin A (max. 25,000 IU), are limited to the dosage you can purchase over the counter without a prescription.
Your body prefers to extract the vitamins and minerals from whole foods and excretes excess vitamins and minerals from supplements via in urine or feces. Remember how you use nutrients is based on genes that are thousands of years old and depended on food, not pills. There is however research to support higher than normal intakes of some vitamins or minerals for specific disease prevention or treatment.
Is it advisable for non-pregnant adults (female and male) to take pre-natal vitamin pills?
Non-pregnant adults may take pre-natal vitamins. However if needed, a daily multivitamin that has 100% the adult Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) would be more appropriate.
Please post the conversion factor between an international unit of a vitamin and its metric equivalent. i.e. how many IU = X milligrams or micrograms?
An international unit of a vitamin varies. I use the following table from "Food Chemistry and Nutritional Biochemistry by Zapsalis and Beck.
Vitamin A, 1 IU retinol = 0.300 - 0.344 micrograms
Vitamin A, 1 IU beta carotene = 0.600 micrograms
Vitamin E, 1 IU tocopherol = 1 milligram
For beta carotene, I have calculated the following conversion for 25,000 IU of beta carotene = 15,000 micrograms.
I take a multivitamin every day. I figure it balances out what I don't eat right in my diet. What ingredients should I look for in a multivitamin?
Your body can absorb around 10 to 15% of the nutrients in a vitamin pill. The rest goes down the toilet as urine. So for every $10.00 you spend on supplements, you could be flushing $8.50 down the toilet. Your money would be better spent on food. The human body prefers to take a food, break it down and take the nutrients it needs. Remember that you are dealing with a cave person's body. I think you are depending too heavily on the supplement and not giving enough credit to the nutrients in your food.
A vitamin is like an enzyme or catalyst. It assists in a chemical reaction. By themselves, they will help prevent a nutritional deficiency and in persons on very low calorie diets (less than 1200 calories per day), vitamin supplements provide missing nutrients. Vitamins though are not enough. You need protein, fat and carbohydrate to build and maintain the human body. If you focus on eating a variety of foods, your requirements of vitamins and minerals will probably be met. Unless your doctor has recommended a specific vitamin for a health problem you have, you may be wasting your money on supplements.
Search Ask the Dietitian