Taking a multivitamin supplement can improve your nutritional profile if your choice of supplement, dosage and dosing method are sound. What you eat or drink affects how well your body absorbs the individual nutrients in vitamin and mineral compounds. The type of multivitamin supplement you buy may perform best when taken with or without food or orange juice. Special coatings on the pills may also affect how and when the nutrients reach your colon, which is the location for vitamin and mineral absorption.
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Multivitamins usually include two kinds of essential dietary vitamins, those that dissolve in water before they get to your colon and those that bind to fatty acids and dissolve with the help of bile acids in your colon. Water-soluble vitamins include the eight B vitamins and vitamin C; fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. If you buy a compound with all of these vitamins, taking your daily pills with food that contains fat will optimize absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. Overdoses, rather than acidic foods such as orange juice, are the main source of side effects from multivitamin use.
Multivitamins With Minerals
Many multivitamin compounds are prepared with essential minerals as well as vitamins, with iron being a major added mineral. If you take a multivitamin with minerals, or MVM, for its iron content, check the supplement label to see whether it also contains vitamin C, a nutrient required for iron absorption during digestion. If it does not, taking your MVM with a serving of orange juice will help you get as much supplemental iron as possible into your system.
As with any dietary supplement, follow the label instructions for multivitamin dosages and the timing and frequency of dosing. If your brand includes fat-soluble vitamins, consuming your dose along with meals or beverages that provide 2.4 grams of fat per meal or a total of 21 grams of fat per day will be enough to facilitate vitamin absorption, according to a study of vitamin A dosing of schoolchildren in a 2007 edition of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." This minimal amount of fat does not exceed the recommended daily allowance of 65 grams of total fat suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drinking 1 cup of orange juice or eating a suggested serving of wheat bran cereal flakes would contribute 0.5 grams of fat to your daily totals. One cup of 1 percent fat milk would provide 2.4 grams of total fat.
Consult a doctor regarding drug interactions before you take a multivitamin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that vitamins E and K can affect your health if you take blood thinners. Avoid megadoses and potential toxic effects by choosing brands with no more than 100 percent daily values of vitamins.