Go To: Top 10 Multivitamins for Men
What is a Multivitamin?
Multivitamins are perhaps one of the most commonly used supplements in both the bodybuilding and fitness community, and the general population.
These vitamin and mineral supplements are typically manufactured by many of the same supplement companies from which you might be buying your protein powder, creatine, fish oils, and so on, and they can provide a convenient means of filling in the gaps, so to speak, of your diet.
Whether you are a hard-training athlete, a competitive bodybuilder, or simply an average person who exercises on a regular basis, a multivitamin can provide you with the additional support your body needs to recover from workouts and promote optimal health and well being.
What Types of Multivitamins are There?
The main distinction to be made with multivitamins is whether they are targeted at men, women, or a unisex audience.
Multivitamins developed more for a male audience with typically boast a higher content of testosterone-boosting ingredients such as zinc while female-orientated equivalents may include more iron or folic acid.
Having said that, any decent multivitamin supplement will include a broad spectrum of ingredients and it is usually the quantities of these ingredients that will vary.
Here is a rundown of the kind of substances you should look for in your multivitamin supplement:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid
- Pantothenic Acid
Multivitamins such as Universal Nutrition Animal Pak are targeted at bodybuilders and hard-training athletes, and this kind of product will usually include a range of amino acids, such as:
- Aspartic Acid;
- Glutamic Acid;
- Tryptophan; and
This kind of bodybuilding-orientated multivitamin also takes into consideration the fact that the individual may also be using other supplements or substances that could have a potentially detrimental effect of kidney or liver health.
With this in mind, you may also find ingredients such as:
- Milk Thistle;
- Oriental Ginseng;
- Para-Aminobenzoic Acid; and
- Pyridoxine α−Ketoglutarate
Digestive enzymes are also included in many high-quality multivitamin supplements, these may include:
- Pancreatin; and
We will touch on standalone antioxidant supplements in a separate FAQ but you may also find some of these in higher-end multivitamins:
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
- Citrus Bioflavinoids
- Coenzyme Q10
- Grapeseed Extract
- Pine Bark Extract
How do Multivitamins Work and What are the Benefits?
Multivitamins contain such a wide array of ingredients that an entire library could be written on the various ways in which they function in the body.
Even so, we can narrow the benefits down as such:
- Hormonal support
- Antioxidant protection against free radical damage
- Digestive support
- Enhanced insulin sensitivity
- Immune support
- Increased bone and teeth density
- Improved mood and energy levels
- Absorption and utilization of minerals and vitamins
- Increased cell division, growth, and repair
- Optimal cell and tissue hydration
- Absorption of nutrients from food
This list is by no means exhaustive, and the exact benefits you reap from your multivitamin will vary somewhat depending on your personal needs and the product you choose.
Assessing the Quality of Multivitamins vs. Other Sources
Simply put, there is no way you’re going to be able to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals offered in a multivitamin from whole food sources, especially in the quantities typically found in a decent supplement.
Of course that is not to say that multivitamins are superior to food or vice versa, and in fact you should always do your utmost to ensure you are eating a varied diet with plenty of fruits and especially vegetables.
Who Can Benefit from Using Multivitamins and How?
We can clearly see from the benefits listed above that just about every human being on the planet could stand to benefit in some way from using a multivitamin supplement.
There is no denying that none of us have a perfect diet which covers all of our nutritional bases, so adding a multivitamin to our diet could definitely make a world of difference.
Having said that, there are particular groups of people who could stand to benefit even more so from using a multivitamin, such as people engaged in intensive bodybuilding programs, high-frequency athletic activities, the elderly.
People following a restrictive nutritional method such as a Paleo, ketogenic, vegan, or vegetarian diet may also benefit greatly from using a multivitamin supplement as these approaches can often lack important nutrients.
Which Foods Are Similar to Multivitamins?
There obviously aren’t any foods that contain multivitamins per se, but fruits and vegetables are particularly high in many of the vitamins and minerals that you will find in the average multivitamin supplement.
Vegetables and leafy greens are particularly effective as a dietary source of nutrients such as these because they usually offer the added benefit of providing a large amount of fiber with very few calories.
Examples of nutritionally-dense vegetables include:
- Leafy greens (arugula, spinach, kale);
- Tomato; and
The sky is the limit when we’re talking about fresh produce such as this so be sure to add at least some green fibrous veggies to each of your meals.
Do I Still Need to Eat Fruits and Vegetables and other sources of vitamins if I Use a Multivitamin?
Yes you most certainly do.
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of your diet that will provide you with an abundance of fiber to ensure digestive health, while also offering a diverse array of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) that may not be included in your multivitamin supplement.
Try to eat some greens at every meal and your body will thank you in the long run.
Will I Develop Deficiencies if I Don’t Use a Multivitamin?
This is entirely possible but it isn’t likely if you are eating a variety of protein sources, vegetables, essential fatty acids, and so on.
Whole food sources should form the foundation of your diet, and a multivitamin is largely there as a form of added insurance to help bolster your current nutrition.
Bodybuilding multivitamins go a little further than this in the ingredients they provide and the quantities they provide them in, so of course the benefits are often greater in terms of your recovery capacity from training.
Related: Best Supplements for Recovery
Do Multivitamins Have any Side Effects?
One major anecdotal recommendation to make when using a multivitamin is to consume plenty of water both around the time of your dosage and throughout the day in general.
You may notice a discoloration of your urine shortly after taking a multivitamin supplement; this is very common.
Whether or not this means you are peeing away the money you’ve spent is open to question; however, one thing is for sure – many of the vitamins and minerals in these products are water-soluble.
Water-solubility in vitamins and minerals basically means that your body needs water in order to absorb and utilize the compounds effectively. If you are dehydrated then there is little your body can do to actually make use of the nutrients you are providing it with.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Use Multivitamins?
Most multivitamins are best taken with food and with plenty of water.
It is also worth noting that just as some of the nutrients in multivitamins are water soluble, many are fat-soluble.
Examples of this include Vitamins A, D, E, and K, so to make full use of these essential vitamins make sure you consume your multivitamin with a fat-rich meal; a breakfast of whole eggs fried in coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil is perfect for this, but don’t forget to add some spinach and make an omelet to get plenty of fiber and added nutrients!
How Many Should You Take
There is typically very little risk of you overdosing on a multivitamin; however, it is always strongly advisable to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most are designed to be taken ONCE DAILY.
Choosing the Right Multivitamin Supplement
We’ve already covered the main differences between a male and female multivitamin, and most people can happily get away with using a generic unisex multivitamin.
Assuming you’re lifting weights or generally “working out” on a regular basis then there is absolutely no harm in investing a little extra into a bodybuilding multivitamin; your present author’s personal favorite is Universal Nutrition Animal Pak as it offers a truly impressive array of ingredients.
This is obviously not to say that you should absolutely use one supplement over another because it will really depend on your budget, training goals, and the actual relevance of a product to your level of experience and how hard you are training versus how hard you think you’re training.
The product you choose will also be influenced by whether or not you are currently using any standalone vitamin and mineral supplements, so use your own due diligence with this one and remember no any multivitamin is better than none at all.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.