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Should You Take A Multivitamin?

The Best Multivitamin/Greens Powder You Can Buy!

Posted by NutritionMax - September 30th, 2016

There’s certainly no question about it – nearly every American is deficient in at least one vitamin or mineral on a daily basis as a result of poor dietary choices, poor gut absorption, poor bioavailability, or all of the above.

Due to a fast paced lifestyle, convenience is attractive which makes for a diet abundant in energy dense and nutrient depleted foods.  National surveys have demonstrated that there’s certainly a prevalence of micronutrient insufficiency in Americans.

The most common deficiencies are low protein, vitamin D, zinc, iron, magnesium and essential fatty acids (omega-3).

Dangers Of Micronutrient Deficiency

A broken diet in the long run can inflict health complications, which is why you NEED to address it this second.  If you’ve ever experienced symptoms like fatigue, lack of sleep, poor energy, dizziness, mood swings, depression that just never seem to disappear, it’s a sign of some underlying problem - and it could be rooted in a nutrient deficit.

Even a deficiency of one micronutrient can impair immunity and increase susceptibility for chronic diseases like osteoporosis and cancer.  However, be aware that it’s not that simple.  Deficiencies contribute to or worsen these problems; they’re not the single cause.

In order to fill in the nutritional gaps, I strongly recommend daily multivitamins or greens powders.  They’re an inexpensive, simple and a safe way to reach nutrient sufficiency.

In fact, The Journal of the American Medical Association has published the recommendation that every person take a multivitamin daily saying that "…suboptimal intake of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly.

Before I delve into how to identify a high-quality product, there’s one overriding factor that must be addressed.  Gut health.  It is the number 1 limiting factor with extracting vitamins and minerals from anything that goes into your mouth.

Gut Health 101

The first step in digestion takes place in the stomach and involves the release of hydrochloric acid (HCL).  Minerals and certain vitamins are bound to amino acids from the food you eat.  HCL disbands the minerals from the proteins and activates a protein-digesting enzyme called pepsin, so the minerals can be assimilated properly.  Therefore, it’s clear that if you have low HCL or are on antacids/PPIs, you have a very decreased level of HCL and suboptimal mineral absorption.

The other problem is that if low HCL is present, the mineral-amino complex remains intact and allows other binding agents to join in, which ultimately makes absorption even more difficult.  If there are “ligands” nearby from food, like citrates and ascorbates, regular absorption can occur.   This is why you see vitamin/mineral supplements be listed as “calcium citrate” or “magnesium glycinate.”  These are the chelating agents that facilitate absorption.  

The 4 Major Components That Make A Great Multivitamin/Greens Powder

As mentioned previously, your ability to break down nutrients and absorb them is utterly important, multivitamin or not.  An optimally functioning GI system is paramount.  

  1. The “additional ingredients” of the multivitamin/greens powder are first thing to look for.   Unfortunately, not a lot of evidence exists on the bioavailability of multivitamins because many companies don’t test their own products and there’s also a scarcity of published human clinical trials on how well supplements are absorbed.  It’s very difficult to test this because there are many variables that influence nutrient absorption.  Furthermore, in vitro and animal model testing don’t reflect human bioavailabilities.  

    Despite this, the absorption rate of many generic multivitamins can be seen as quite poor largely due to the coatings, synthetic ingredients, binders, fillers and excipients that glue the ingredients together and create its bulk.  You end up excreting most of this in the urine and basically wasting your money.  These fillers effectively impair the release of nutrients like vitamin E, calcium, B6, iron, folic acid and B12. Therefore, analyzing products for these added ingredients is mandatory.

  2. There are also greater bioavailable, active forms of certain vitamins that you want to look for such folate as 5-MTHFR, Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin, and in some cases Vitamin B2 as Riboflavin 5’Phosphate and Vitamin B6 as Pyridoxal 5’Phosphate.  Vitamins once ingested go through all sorts of changes and conversions.  These are the end stages of that process, essentially making the ability to utilize them easier.  When I examine a product, this the second most crucial factor I look at.

  3. The third component is dosage.  Multivitamins are usually properly dosed, but many greens powders aren’t. The dosages of vitamins in several greens powders are all over the place.  Some vitamins are super high, others are super low with variations in between.  This is done on purpose and in some cases required by law.  For example, iron has to be below a certain threshold.  If you can find one that has a high amount of all vitamins, especially the B family, you’ll be in good shape.  And no, you really shouldn’t worry about excess above the Daily Value (DV).

  4. The final and rather “bonus” part of a solid product is virtually anything else added that isn’t a vitamin or mineral.  Whether that’s raw superfood plant concentrates, sea vegetables, herbal and fruit extracts or probiotics.

Microalge Benefits

I LOVE seeing microalgae in supplements.  Algae in general produce lots of antioxidants and bioflavonoids, they contain all the amino acids, strengthen immunity and contain chlorophyll which helps metabolize carcinongens and reduce free radical damage. Spirulina and chlorella have a ton of benefits.

For instance, spirulina assists with blood sugar control and cravings (everyone has that craving problem, right?).  Chlorella houses an array of minerals, all of the B vitamins and substantially increases immune activity; specifically, natural killer cells.  Some really awesome multivitamins don’t possess these unfortunately, so in the event I’m lacking these in my diet, I will buy it specifically.  My longtime go-to is this high quality combo from Onnit.

Plant Concentrates, Mushrooms & Enzymes

You likely wouldn’t buy wheatgrass, barley or alfalfa sprouts and eat them, so anytime you can find these concentrates in powders, is a huge plus.  Wheatgrass in particular increases red blood cell count and cleanse the blood.  Many other herbal extracts like dandelion root, milk thistle and artichoke have a therapeutic effect by enhancing liver detoxification, which is beneficial for the toxicant burdened individual.  

Sometimes you’ll find mushrooms extracts like from reishi.  This alone as a supplement would be an incredible idea because it’s been known to shield DNA from free radical damage, increase immune cells and amplify antioxidant levels within 90 minutes upon ingestion.

Enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics tie a well package product together because virtually everyone needs probiotics in their diet for a robust immunity and gut health.  (For more information on this, check out my article on the importance of probiotics)

My Greens Powder/Multivitamin Recommendation

As I was perusing greens powders one day as I normally do to see what else is out there, I stumbled across an astonishing product - a greens powder and multivitamin in one from Athletic Greens.

Sure, there’s a bunch of other stellar greens powders too, and I’ve taken a bunch of them, but this one in particular is special.  When I first tried it, I felt amazing.  There was just a greater sense of mental clarity, awareness, reaction time and energy – all things that caffeine can’t truly produce long-term.  

This company doesn’t use hot-milling either.  Many other companies use this technique and it sucks because it damages nutrients, leaving far less available nutrients in the product.  These guys create a pure product that contains a majority of these organic superfoods I mentioned above, but in combination I personally favor over other brands.

And there’s NO artificial ingredients. NO  gluten, dairy, corn, peanuts or eggs. Non-GMO (win).

Additionally, it contains highly bioavailable vitamins and minerals in their active form like folate and B12.  The added probiotics make the entire process of digestion so much easier, which is something many people lack and why I’m a huge proponent of them.

My recommendation is to definitely check it out here. And it tastes just fantastic too. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Thoughts

So, do you even really need this or a multivitamin? Perhaps not. But would you benefit from the plethora of nutrients, some of which you’re probably lacking?  Absolutely.  So, you need it.

Despite what the media and doctors want to say about the “dangers” of vitamins, it’s all fear mongering.  Multivitamins/greens powders are designed to “cover your bases” and ensure daily adequacy of each micronutrient is met for optimal health.  However, a sound whole foods diet should always be the priority, as this is the blueprint for a healthy body. Your health depends on them.

If you want to try it out, please report back here and let me know how much you love it!

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posted by NutritionMax
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NASM CPT, Master's in Human Nutrition
Precision Nutrition Sports & Exercise Nutritionist

Justin Janoska is a professional fitness coach and a clinical nutritionist who specializes in helping people with challenging diseases. He runs an online coaching platform where he helps people like you reach build muscle or lose weight.

For an intimate coaching experience, visit

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what's the best multi to take? I've been taking the GNC Mega Men brand, but the pill is too big for me to swallow .

Time to get on a multivitamin soon I think!!

i take mine once a day! fish oil too! and sometimes CLA!