Ten Things to Know About Multivitamins

by Ellen Troyer
CEO & Chief Research Officer
Biosyntrx Nutritional Technology
May 13, 2011
It’s easy to become confused with so many multivitamins choices available. To help sort out the facts, here are ten things eye doctors and their patients should look for when recommending or selecting an ocular health/full-body multivitamin supplement.
1. Both eye doctors and patients need to do some research on their own since, in many cases, they may be taking the multivitamin formula they choose every day for the rest of their lives. Visit the web sites of ophthalmic-based companies and get to know the qualifications of the scientists involved.
2. Nutritional biochemistry is a complex subject, so look for multivitamin formulations that are designed by biochemists who work closely with molecular biologists, biomedical researchers, and ophthalmologists and optometrists whose research and expertise areas include nutritional influence on the eye. Experience and quality matter, so become an informed consumer.
3. An absolutely vital player in the design and manufacturing process of great multivitamins is a raw ingredient researcher who puts purity and bioavailability ahead of bargain pricing. Remember, you are taking the multivitamin product every day, so ingredient quality counts.
4. An experienced chemist is also required to successfully encapsulate a full-spectrum multivitamin product that includes efficacious amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and the entire host of B vitamins, as well as a vast array of minerals and a large number of phytochemical (plant-based) job-specific antioxidants and amino acids that will live cohesively together in a small capsule for no less than 24 months without becoming unstable. This is not an easy task, but it can be accomplished by artful chemists with “Dr. Phil” type skills and advanced knowledge of raw ingredients and their tolerance for close multiple partner relationships. Manufacturing process counts.
5. Always look for multivitamins from companies that guarantee their products are manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. Also require that these GMP standards are validated by a third-party regulatory group like NSF or USP.
6. Look for multivitamins that include a biochemically-balanced combination of at least 40 micronutrients. Nutrients never function in the human body on their own as well as they do with an entire host of metabolic co-factor partners. An example is zinc. It requires a vitamin B6 partnership for most every human metabolic process. Another example is Vitamin E, which always requires selenium for optimal results. It is interesting that the ARED formulation includes zinc without B6, and it includes vitamin E without its co-factor partner, selenium.)
7. This is a good place to mention that angiogenesis (neovascularization) associated with diseases of the retina is dependent on copper, therefore large amounts of dietary or supplemental copper should not be recommended for the AMD or diabetic retinopathy patient. In the case of low cost AMD supplements, inexpensive zinc oxide should be replaced with zinc monomethionine in all products. It does not require a balancing amount of copper to prevent zinc-related anemia, and it’s easier on the kidneys. Again, appropriate raw ingredient choice is more important than cost when it comes to product safety.
8. Look for eye-care multiples that include a full-spectrum of natural vitamins, minerals, and ocular and full-body job-specific phytochemical antioxidants, as well as the mitochondria housekeeper nutrients, and digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCL) for enhanced absorption and less gastric upset for folks with a low tolerance for multivitamins. Again, raw ingredient quality and purpose matters.
9. It’s important that consumers know that micronutrients from natural sources are more expensive, but they have proved to be safer and more effective than synthetic sources. Two examples are beta carotene and vitamin E. Synthetic beta carotene as a vitamin A source is linked to increased risk of lung cancers in smokers, while the far more expensive natural beta carotene has not been linked to increased risk of lung cancer. The inexpensive synthetic form of vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol) has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, while the natural, more expensive form, D- alpha-tocopherol, has not been linked to increased risk of heart disease.
10. Look for eye-care multiples designed by experienced scientists around peer-reviewed and published nutrition science, not marketing and political hype. An example is the use of beta carotene as a source of vitamin A in multiples designed for the vision patient. The carotenoid nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, have proved to be important players in the macula pigment’s ability to protect the retina from blue light damage associated with degeneration. Supplemental beta carotene in any form interferes with the body’s ability to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin. This information is critical to the consumer striving to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. Note that the ARED formulation and the ARED copy cat products still include beta carotene as a vitamin A source in spite of valid published science suggesting otherwise.