Multivitamins and Supplements for the Family

Quality multivitamins are an essential that everyone should incorporate into their daily lives, just like water. It should be a no brainer. The purpose of a multivitamin is to provide nutrients that are not taken in through the diet. They are like a bridge to help close the nutrient gap. Multivitamins are also used to treat vitamin deficiencies caused by illness, poor diet, digestive disorders and other conditions. It is best and safe practice to start a multivitamin habit in children that are at least 12 years old. Some children as young as 4 may take multivitamins but their needs may not be the same as an adult, especially if they are healthy and growing as they should. Your pediatrician will recommend any vitamin usage for your child. That being said, incorporating a multivitamin into the daily habits of pre-teens and teens is very beneficial as teens tend to have more control of their diets, often seeking less healthy alternatives such as fast food, junk food, sugary drinks etc. Everyone, regardless of their gender or age, should be focusing on health and proper nutrition.

Here are a few common and beneficial vitamins for women to start incorporating either into your daily life or your teens

When choosing a Multivitamin, your best bet to ensure you receive quality ingredients without fillers is at your local health market. Try to stay away from commercial vitamins that are commonly found at a cheap price in drug stores. Finding a local health food store often offers high quality brands that are USP certified.

Confused yet? Trust me, we know! Taking a walk down a vitamin aisle is like a kid taking a walk down candy lane, or a mom trying to shop at forever 21. Overcrowded, overwhelming and cheap and just bad for you.

To help curb your confusion on choosing a multivitamin for anyone in your family, follow these simple guidelines on what to look out for- brought to you by UT Southwestern Medical Center

  1. USP verification: This is the ultimate stamp of approval. USP verified means that the vitamin you are looking at or holding in your hand is pure and contains only the ingredients that are listed on the label. The S. Pharmacopeial Convention is an independent, nonprofit organization. The organization uses a particular seal. Experts warn- Don’t be fooled by labels that simply use the letters “USP.” You can Check your multivitamin online to ensure it is USP verified. (
  2. Appropriate daily values of ingredients: Choose a multivitamin with 100 percent of the daily value of most of its ingredients. You should note however that some nutrients, such as calcium, can’t be included in a multivitamin at 100 percent – if it was, the multivitamin would be too large to swallow. You can either purchase a calcium supplement to meet your daily requirements or can eat calcium rich foods to help bridge that gap.
  3. The right balance for your age and sex: Nutrient needs vary depending on gender and age. For example, premenopausal women need more iron, while older adults need more calcium. A dietitian or your family doctor can help you determine how much of specific nutrients you need for your age and gender.
  4. Essential micronutrients: Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium are the big players in the vitamin game. But a good multivitamin will contain micronutrients that are also essential in making sure your body runs like a well-oiled machine.

These micronutrients include:

  • Thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin
  • B6 and B12
  • Folic acid, pantothenic acid, and biotin
  • Calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc
  • Iodine, borate, and molybdenum
  • Vitamins A (including beta carotene), E, and K
  • Vitamin D2 or D3

Experts recommend you skip multivitamins that are made with additional micronutrients for which there are no recommended daily values. It will only add to build up in your system.


You need your antioxidants! When our body is exposed to certain external and internal elements, it reacts by creating free radicals, these are unstable molecules created by cells and are just extra waste in the body. If the body is unable to process and remove this waste, then oxidative stress can occur with has been linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis and stroke; respiratory diseases, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, UV exposure, cigarette smoke, pollution, radiation, exposure to chemicals, such as pesticides and drudge (including chemotherapy), industrial solvents and excessive exercise are all examples of external elements. Internal elements include tissue trauma from inflammation and injury, consumption of refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, certain dyes (red dye #40- found in almost everything) and additives, mitochondrial activity etc.
Though all of these elements are seemingly unavoidable, like pollution; the good news is that there are literally hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect against this specific cell damage and oxidative stress.

Below is a list of common and familiar sources of antioxidants that come from outside of the body:

  • Vitamin A: Dairy, produce, eggs and liver.
  • Vitamin C: Most fruits & vegetables, berries, oranges and bell peppers
  • Vitamin E: Nuts & seeds, sunflower & other vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables (think collards, kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Beta-carotene: Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as peas, spinach, mangoes, and the most notable- carrots
  • Lycopene: Pink & red fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Lutein: Green, leafy vegetables, corn, papaya and oranges
  • Selenium: Rice, corn, wheat & other whole grains as well as nuts, eggs, cheese and legumes (black beans, kidney beans)

Other examples of antioxidant food sources are eggplant, red grapes, black and green teas, goji berries, pomegranates, blueberries, lentils, broccoli and YES DARK CHOCOLATE- hallelujah!

Plant based foods contain phytonutrients which are all antioxidants. Not all antioxidants are the same however, each one serves a different function and are not interchangeable, this is why having a varied diet full of colorful fruits and veggies is important in order to get the antioxidants your body needs.

B Vitamins

The next class of vitamins essential for women are the B vitamins. B Vitamins are a group of 8 essential vitamins that all have unique functions yet work together in the body.

  • B-1 (thiamine): breaks down sugars, creates brain chemicals, produces fatty acids & synthesizes certain hormones
  • B-2 (riboflavin): energy production, break down of fats, converts B-6 to a coenzyme for bioavailability
  • B-3 (niacin): creates energy from carbs, fats and proteins into a form the body can usel metabolic processes, expression of DNA in cells
  • B-5 (pantothenic acid): creates new coenzymes, proteins and fats, used for energy and metabolism
  • B-6: amino acid metabolism, breaks down carbs and fats, brain development, immune function
  • B-7 (biotin): breaks down fats, carbs and protein, regulation of DNA
  • B-9 (folate): DNA replication, metabolism of vitamins, metabolism of amino acids, proper cell division
  • B-12: contains the mineral cobalt used for creating new red blood cells, DNA synthesis, brain and neurological function, fat and protein metabolism

Eating a healthy, varied diet (remember, eat the rainbow) will generally provide all the B vitamins a person needs, however if you choose to supplement, selecting a full B-complex supplement is the best and most effective as it contains all of the 8 essential B vitamins. Ask a doctor before taking any supplements to be sure they will not interact with medications.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally produced by your body as a response to sun exposure. Since there is much controversy over time in the sun and skin cancer, It is recommended that you focus on getting your Vitamin D either from foods or supplementation. Vitamin D is responsible for bone and teeth strength which is essential for preventing conditions like osteoporosis. It also protects against a wide range of diseases and conditions such as type 1 diabetes.

Fun fact: Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin at all! It is a precursor of a hormone called a prohormone. What is the difference? Well Vitamins are nutrients that the body does not naturally produce and must be consumed. The body however, can produce vitamin D through sunlight. If you do decide to spend some time in the sun, experts recommend going outside where UV rays are peaking, generally between 11am-2pm, this is when vitamin D production will be at its highest. Forgo the sunscreen for only 20 minutes and then apply the SPF. Sunscreen will block the UV rays that are needed to trigger the production of vitamin D. Rule of thumb: When outside, if your shadow is bigger than you are, vitamin D production will be minimum.

Vitamin K

Lastly, you should try to get adequate amounts of the fat-soluble vitamin K each day, either with a supplement or in your diet. Vitamin K benefits the body in various ways. Bone health, cognitive health and heart health are three benefits that vitamin K gives. However, the most important function of this nutrient is the production of prothrombin which is a protein that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism.

Dark, leafy greens are where vitamin K likes to live in high amounts. Foods such as kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, parsley, raw spinach, grapes, hard boiled eggs and soybean oil are all great sources of vitamin K.

This is one nutrient where experts don’t recommend supplementing due to the fact that most adults in the U.S. are consuming enough vitamin K through their food and taking any type of supplement can lead to toxicity. If you are taking or been prescribed blood thinners, anticonvulsants, or cholesterol lowering medications, talk to your doctor about your vitamin K intake as it may interact with several common medications.

Remember, exceeding 100 percent of the daily value of any nutrients is not helpful. Some nutrients – like vitamins A, D, E, and K – can build up in the body and become toxic.

Scholarly articles and Research Resources: