You probably remember hearing your mother say “Take your vitamins” every day. And you did. Those delightful children’s vitamins in the shape of Fred Flintstone and Bugs Bunny were fun to take and tasted good too. But as you grew up, your body’s needs changed. And so did your vitamins. Now, there are so many vitamins on the market it can be hard to decide which one to try. You no longer only have to make the decision between Fred and Bugs. The following information will hopefully make it a little easier to decide which vitamins to purchase.

The first rule of determining which vitamin will do your body the most justice is to try to determine about how long the vitamin will take to dissolve in your system. Most vitamins come in a rather large, hard, coated tablet. Most of these tablets are coated with a type of polymer that allows the tablet to pass through the stomach without being digested so it can dissolve in the small intestine to improve absorption. Personally, I do not like the thought of ingesting indigestible plasticized polymers just to take in a few nutrients. The main problem with these types of coated vitamins is their inability to fully breakdown in the digestive system. Now, there are plenty of ‘experts’ out there who claim the best vitamins to take are the ones that are enteric coated. However, if they would have read the Porta-Potty studies that were written a few years ago, they may change their mind.

The Porta-Potty studies involved the testimonials of many sanitation workers who have seen partially dissolved vitamins in the bottom of the portable toilets as they cleaned them. Some claimed to have even been able to still read the brand name stamped on the pill. Just think- that pill survived the transit through a human body and then was soaking in the liquid in the portable toilet. If the enteric coatings on these tablets are beneficial, then the pills should not pass through the body only partially digested.

The Physician’s Desk Reference (that huge book you may have seen lying on your doctor’s desk) states that only 10% of the nutrients in traditional vitamin/mineral pills and capsules are absorbed by your body. How does it feel to know that you are throwing away 90% of the money that you spend on these supplements? In order for the vitamin to be absorbed properly, it must first be converted into a form that your body can use. This means going through the digestive process. However, the digestive process destroys the nutrient content of the vitamin. So, what are you supposed to do to ensure you are getting the most nutrient absorption?

You could try a liquid vitamin, which is a great deal better than a pill form but the same rules apply here also. The liquid has to survive the digestive process in order to be absorbed. So, what you are looking for is a multi vitamin that is in a pill form, but has a high absorption rate. The only problem is you will not find any information on absorption rates on any vitamin bottle.

I have found the best vitamins to be the ones that you can find in health food stores, such as Whole Foods, that carry a nice selection of organic health products. Usually these types of vitamins do not come in a bottle where you take one pill a day. They usually come in boxes that contain a month’s supply of vitamins and minerals and each serving is packaged separately. These vitamins are not enteric coated, but do have a very thin coating that allows the tablets to slip through the digestive process and immediately begin absorption in the small intestine. These types can be thoroughly utilized by the body and provide better results than their enteric coated cousins. All of the vitamins and nutrients are not compressed into one huge, hard to swallow tablet, but instead come in several smaller, easier to swallow pills. One pill is a mineral, one is a vitamin, and the others are usually specific supplements aimed toward specific customers (men, women, seniors, etc).

I have performed many tests using these types of vitamins compared to the coated ones and the results can be shocking. I compared a well known brand of organically produced vitamins and 5 brands of your general supermarket types ranging from costly to cheap. The organic brand I was currently taking myself, and the other 5 samples were donated by friends who were actively taking them.

For the first test, I placed each of the tablets (the entire packet of the organic brand, which contained 4 tablets) in a teacup and filled the cup with warm water. The other 5 brands were broken into pieces to equal the size of the organic tablets. After 24 hours, the organic brand was completely dissolved. 3 out of the other 5 were partially dissolved and 2 were still whole. I repeated the test using a soft drink to more closely resemble stomach acid. After 24 hours, the organic brand was, or course, fully dissolved. 2 of the other 5 were almost dissolved, 2 were partially dissolved and 1 was still almost whole.
Of course this test doesn’t truly represent what happens within the human body, but it still gives a pretty good idea of a vitamin’s ability to be broken down and absorbed.

The most important factor of all in determining the best type of multivitamin for you is to do your homework, research brands and ask for samples. Many vitamin brands offer samples or coupons on their websites. Simply run a Google search for ‘vitamin samples’ or visit a few health food stores in your area. Many of them offer free samples at the check- out counter. You may want to conduct your own tests like I did by asking friends or family for one of their vitamins. You may want to try a few different samples of different brands for a few days each to help determine which makes you feel the best and works with your unique system.

Multivitamins are wonderful tools to help you live a healthier, more nutritionally balanced lifestyle, but they are not meant to combat a poor diet or other unhealthy habits. Get plenty of rest, exercise and fresh air. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and eat fresh fruits and vegetables when possible. This, combined with your newly found favorite multivitamin, can help you feel your best and live the healthiest lifestyle you can.

Author's Bio: 

Reiki Master/ Teacher trained in the traditional Usui Shiki Ryoho style- Obtained April, 2004

Certified Holistic Stress Management Specialist- Obtained July, 2007

Career Diploma in Fitness and Nutrition- Obtained January, 2008

Currently studying to obtain a Holistic Practitioner degree

Fields of study: herbal medicine, aromatherapy, reiki, stress management, holistic health, fitness and nutrition