NUTRITION ACTION HEALTHLETTER
ou don’t need a fancy multi.
Some of our Best Bites are
brands that are sold at stores
like Eckerd, Kmart, Kroger, Rite Aid,
Safeway, Sav-on, Walgreens, and Wal-
Or you can walk into just about
any pharmacy and pick up a bottle of
Theragran-M (or one of its clones).
So why do you need our chart (see
Because multis haven’t adjusted
their ingredients to keep up with the
latest recommendations from the
National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
And even the Academy’s advice—which
is up to five years old for some nutri-
ents—may be out of date.
For example, recent studies suggest
that high doses of vitamin A may raise
the risk of hip fracture and that the lat-
est recommended levels of vitamin K
may be too low to protect your bones.
And a high dose of vitamin E may make
What’s more, labels can mislead
For example, a bottle may
say that a multi has 100 percent of the
Daily Value for vitamins A, C, and K.
say is that the govern-
ment hasn’t changed the Daily Values
since the mid-1970s.
Experts now rec-
ommend more C and K, so 100 percent
of the Daily Value is
than a day’s
And experts recommend less
vitamin A, so 100 percent of the Daily
than a day’s worth.
To simplify your search for the per-
fect multi, we’ve evaluated dozens of
brands to find our Best Bites, using dif-
ferent criteria for men and pre- and
we separated the best from the rest.
You can follow the same steps if you
want to check out brands that aren’t in
Look for 100 percent
of eight vitamins
A multi is supposed to supplement, not
replace, your diet.
But it’s easier to look
for a multi that has a full day’s worth of
each vitamin and mineral than to try to
guess how much you’re not getting
from your food.
Our Best Bites have at least 100 percent
of the Daily Value for thiamin (B-1),
riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), vitamins
B-6, B-12, D, E, and folic acid.
have at least 90 mg of vitamin C, which
is the new recommended level for men
(it’s 75 mg for women).
than the current Daily Value (60 mg).
Limit vitamin A
According to a 2002 Harvard Medical
School study of 72,000 women, those
who consumed between 4,300 interna-
tional units (IU) and 6,600 IU a day of
vitamin A had a 43 percent higher risk
of hip fracture than those who con-
sumed 1,700 IU or less.
The risk was
greater in women who got even more
than 6,600 IU.
Only one kind of vita-
min A, retinol, was linked to weaker
It’s found in animal foods
(dairy, liver, eggs, etc.).
which the body converts to vitamin A,
is found in fruits and vegetables.
doesn’t increase the risk of hip frac-
The vitamin A in supplements
can come from retinol (often called
vitamin A palmitate or acetate), from
beta-carotene, or from a combination of