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Overall, vegetarian multivitamins are similar to any other kind of multivitamin on the market. Some might contain extra amounts of the kind of vitamins eating vegetarian diets can deprive the body of, and some might be marketed to certain customers, like children or older adults. Generally, though, all multivitamins, including vegetarian multivitamins, provide a certain percent of the Daily Value (%DV) determined by the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). More often than not, it’s up to the vegetarian herself to determine which vitamins her diet lacks and compare the different vegetarian multivitamins that can supplement her diet. Depending on her diet, she might find that a regular multivitamin, or a capsule, tablet, or liquid of a specific vitamin, is all she needs.
Once a vegetarian starts shopping around, she’ll encounter various kinds of vegetarian multivitamins. Similar to regular multivitamins, she’ll find vegetarian multivitamins marketed for children, elderly individuals, and people with various dietary needs. Some may claim to be of medical grade, others may advertise to be of the most potent quality. Some will be reasonably priced, and others will be cheap or even expensive. In short, there are as many different types of vegetarian multivitamins as there are regular multivitamins.
Generally, the most common vitamins vegetarians lack, or are at risk for lacking, are iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B-12. A good multivitamin for vegetarians will include ample amounts of these vitamins. Once she confirms their presence and that they meet or exceed the %DV, she can then shop around for consumer reviews, compare prices and the reputations of the manufacturers, and make her choice. She must keep in mind, however, that her diet might not lack these vitamins. She should examine the kinds of vegetarian food she eats before choosing a multivitamin.
Perhaps the most effective way to determine which vitamins she regularly gets and which ones she’s lacking is by examining her vegetarian diet. The three most common vegetarian diets are ovo-lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and lacto-vegetarian. Ovo-lacto-vegetarians might be the most common and lenient, as their diets include no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, but they do consume eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Ovo-vegetarians consume no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood but do consume eggs. Lacto-vegetarians consume no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood but do consume dairy products like milk and cheese.
Once a vegetarian is aware of the foods she’s consuming and those she isn’t, she can get a better idea of the vitamins her diet might lack and which vegetarian multivitamins she might need. Too often, people think of vegetarian nutrition as something of a mystery, when typically vegetarians can get all the vitamins they need by choosing healthy, vitamin-rich vegetarian food rather than “junk” food. If she has a good idea of which vitamins she’s getting, but isn’t sure if she’s getting enough or even if she’s lacking some, she might consider visiting a doctor. A regular family physician can perform simple blood tests to determine vitamin levels and help her better understand her vitamin levels and perhaps recommend a quality vegetarian multivitamin.
While there may be different types of vegetarian multivitamins, the biggest thing you may be looking for is whether or not the capsules is used from vegetarian sources. Otherwise, you shouldn't have any animal-derived ingredients in your multivitamin.
One thing to keep in mind when considering any nutritional supplement (vitamin, mineral, multi- or other) is the need for a comprehensive supplement that covers a broad array of nutrients from multiple sources, which is more important than just a few individual vitamins or minerals.
While research can tell us the exact benefits of each vitamin, mineral, and omega, it is important not to get too caught up with the targeted effects each nutrient has. Even today, we are finding in the
world of "epigenetics", there are things happening around (epi-) the genes that we had no clear evidence of before. (Sort of like the effect upon your emotions when you witness a heroic act of some kind -- not quite measurable -- but the effect is there, no doubt). So too is the case of the many, many nutrients that do not have names of the common vitamins and minerals, but do play an important role in the benefit and support of your good health, to a degree of which we are now just starting to get a glimpse.
This I mention because you should consider your need for a supplement that is greater than just one or a few of the individual parts of which a good one is comprised. You should consider a daily supplement that covers as much good nutrition as is reasonable for your body's needs.
You see, most of us are missing the forest for the trees. The vast majority of people are not deficient in one particular nutrient (vitamin, mineral or other). Sure there are cases, and unless you've been tested (the technology is here if you want to spend the time and money), then you probably are not deficient in one particular nutrient. Maybe today you are but this was a day of not-so-good eating that shows a deficiency on a test (not all work this way), but tomorrow a better diet brings about a 'normal' result. Either way, it's hard to know if the fluctuations in your vitamin and mineral and other nutrient levels is a cause of a problem today or will be in the future.
Most of us are deficient in a vast array of nutrients. We just don't eat enough plant-based foods. We overcook our foods. And even the foods that are suppose to be the source of good nutrition (fruits, vegetables, berries, plants, etc), all fall short of the nutritional content that they once had many decades ago -- this due to soil depletion, picking too early, exposure to the elements, chemicals, and even long transporting distances.
So the question you should be asking is: what is the best way to get a broad array of nutrition from the right sources in order to more adequately cover my nutrient needs for good health, wellness, and prevention?
I did some exploring and spent a year thoroughly researching all the supplements available on the market in order to make an informed decision and to share with others (the confusion and misleading information is rampant on the internet). In addition, I took a step back to look at why we take a nutritional supplement and from that answer drew to a conclusion on what specific criteria are needed to fully meet our daily nutritional needs as closely as possible, or at least as much as nutritionally possible without actually consuming a variety of home grown, organic foods (not always possible, I know!).
My findings are summarized here and I am happy to share them with you.
The first discovery made was actually a conclusion -- that the best supplements on the market actually have three criteria that makes them each an optimal daily nutritional supplement compared to others that don't meet these criteria. (These same criteria can be applied to those nutritional products that in a small percentage of cases are needed for specific, targeted uses or conditions, but here we are talking about daily nutrition for overall health and wellness).
Those criteria are: the product is made using the whole food; it is comprised of mostly (if not all) organic foods; and it includes superfoods -- those foods we know to contain relatively very high levels of nutritional content.
The three companies I found that make a product (a daily nutritional supplement) that fits these three criteria are: Barlean's Organic Greens, Green SuperFoods by Amazing Grass, AKEA Essentials.
There may be others that have the three criteria mentioned above, but the main focus was to find a complete nutritional supplement that is meant to cover the vast array of nutrients most of us miss in our typical day, not a supplement specific to a particular problem (i.e. vitamin D for depression-like symptoms).
I have personally tried all three, but opted for using the AKEA Essentials (now just called AKEA and owned by Asantae). The AKEA has the added benefit of having pre- and pro-biotic enzymes and fermented foods, all of which aid in the digestion and health of the intestinal tract. The taste of the AKEA is something I enjoyed over the others, although my philosophy is I would consume any product regardless of taste if I knew it contained a very high level of very high quality nutrients. However, the AKEA does taste good.
The other point to make here is that you won't find the best daily nutritional supplements in a capsule, pill, or tablet form, at least not if you expect to get adequate amounts of nutrients. Of course, you could take 10 or more per day, but with that approach you are better off with a powder. Also, liquids will always (I have not found one without one of the common preservatives - usually a benzoate of some sort - among the roughly 30-plus evaluated) have some sort of preservative because water will invite mold and the preservative prevents the mold. And the preservative is not a beneficial nutrient, so this delivery method was voted down.
Those three criteria can be debated on whether or not they are necessary, but if your focus is to get added nutrition into your body that you know is missing, in order to support your good health and prevention of sickness and disease, then doesn't it make sense to set some very high standards on what you will take?
What you choose should be the very best that you can afford! It may be what keeps you from being sick, and quite possibly preventing serious illness in the future, especially if you're not eating a variety of organic whole foods and superfoods -- on a daily basis!
Hope you find this information helpful.