Not at all multivitamins are created equal. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, check the ingredient list of your multivitamin against the list below with care. From Be Fruitful: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Fertility and Giving Birth to a Healthy Child.
1. Check the vitamin A first for a maximum of 2,500 IU of vitamin A as vitamin A palmitate, vitamin A acetate, or retinol palmitate. Up to 15,000 IU of beta-carotene is allowable. It’s fine if it reads vitamin A 100 percent as beta-carotene.
2. Be sure it contains iron 18 mg (most men should not take supplemental iron).
3. Iodine should be 150 mcg.
4. Folic acid should be 400 or more mcg (it’s okay to have up to 1,000 mcg or 1 gm).
5. DHA may not be in it at all. If it is, look for a dose of 300 mg or more. Ideally EPA is in your vitamin as well. Most likely you will need to take fish oil capsule(s) in addition to your multi. Look for a molecularly distilled omega-3 with 300 to 400 mg of DHA and 500 mg of EPA, and take it with your largest meal of the day.
6. Vitamin D—you will want at least 1,000 IU per day (or more if your lab work shows you to be deficient). Most multis won’t have this much and you will need to add an additional supplement. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is recommended but vegan products will likely have vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and this is okay, too.
7. Vitamin E—do not buy a multi with dl alpha tocopherol—it’s the synthetic form, and a sign of a poor product. If the label reads d-alpha tocopherol, that is okay; better yet are 200 to 400 IU of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols.
8. Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin): 2.4 mcg.
9. Other vitamins: a multi will likely contain vitamins C and B (there is a whole family of B vitamins—B1, also called thiamine; B2, also called riboflavin; B6, also called pyridoxine Hcl; B3, which is Niacin or Niacinamide; B12 [cyanocobalamin]; B7 [Biotin]; and B5 [pantothenic acid]).
10. Trace minerals: a multi should also contain small amounts of copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. (You will likely need to supplement with some additional calcium.)