LiveWell Louisiana

Navigating the Vitamin Aisle

We’ve all been there before, standing in the vitamin aisle at the grocery or drug store overwhelmed by the hundreds of options that line the shelves.
May 29th, 2015 by: Touro Infirmary Hospital

With so many options, it can be diffi-cult to figure out where to start. Dr. Meredith Maxwell, who practices Family Medicine at Touro Infirmary, has a few key points to consider when choosing a multivitamins regimen.  


The Best Sources for Vitamins and Minerals

Each day, your body requires roughly 40 different vitamins and minerals for good health. Taking a daily supplement can be beneficial. The key word, however, is supplement. Multivitamins are not a replacement for a bad diet; rather, they are meant to supplement our diet in areas in which we may fall short. Assess Your Needs Before choosing a multivitamin, start with a visit to your doctor. “Your doctor can take a look at your diet and lifestyle, and offer advice about which supplements would be most beneficial for you,” Dr. Maxwell explains.

Essential Vitamins for Women

Dr. Meredith Maxwell shares the six essential vitamins that women should consume.

Vitamin A

Recommended daily dosage: 2,300 international units (IU)
A natural antioxidant, vitamin A boosts your immune system, improves vision, reduces risk of heart disease and may slow skin aging. However, vitamin A can be toxic in large doses; so it is important to stick with the right amount. It is best to get vitamin A from a beta-carotene source, such as a large carrot or a cup of sliced cantaloupe. 

B Vitamins

Recommended daily folate dosage: 400 micrograms (mcg); at least 600 mcg if you’re pregnant. The eight B vitamins help maintain metabolism and muscle tone, and keep your mind sharp. B9, known as folic acid, is important for young women as it guards against cancer and birth defects. The DV for non-pregnant women can often be found in fortified breakfast cereals, whole-grain breads, asparagus and beans.

Vitamin C

Recommended daily dosage: 75 milligrams (mg)
VItamin C is believed to boost your immune system, fend off wrinkles, heal wounds faster and help prevent heart disease, prenatal problems and eye illnesses. A single orange, one red pepper or a cup of broccoli is packed with nearly all of your daily vitamin C.

Vitamin D

Recommended daily dosage: 1,000 to 2,000 IU
Vitamin D lately has been considered a sort of wonder drug for its ability to reduce 
the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer, and diabetes. 
It also plays a vital role in muscle function and the absorption of calcium. Milk, orange juice and salmon contain small amounts of vitamin D, but not enough to meet your recommended daily values. Therefore, a supplement is needed for many people.


Recommended daily dosage: 1,000 mg
Calcium is known for helping to build strong bones and teeth, and nourishing your nervous system. Women start losing bone density in their 20s, so most should be taking a supplement. While dairy sources like yogurt, milk and cheese do pack calcium, they also do not offer enough to meet recommended daily values.


Recommended daily dosage: 18 mg
An iron deficiency can lead to anemia (a lack of red blood cells) and a weakened immune system. Women with heavy periods also benefit from iron. While you can get your daily fill of iron from one cup of some breakfast cereals, as well as iron-rich foods like red meat, you might want to speak to your physician about taking an iron supplement. 

How to Choose a Multivitamin

When shopping, here are a few tricks to help you find the least expensive vitamins and minerals you need.

  • Don’t expect to find 100 percent of the DV for calcium or magnesium in a multivitamin, as this would make the pills very large.
  • Look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) symbol on the packaging.
  • Most additives, like herbs, are unnecessary and often make the supplement more expensive.
  • Supplements marketed at a certain age group or specific population are often pricier, so look for the same formula in a generic brand.


Remember, as Dr. Maxwell explai ns, vitamins are called supplements for a reason. “While not a replacement for poor diet, a daily multivitamin is designed to supplement your diet and may help provide you with the necessary nutrients to feel your best where your diet may be lacking,” she says. 
It is important to talk to your doctor about your needs, and, together, the two of you can determine what vitamin regimen is best for you!

This summer, Touro will show people how to shop for healthy low-cholesterol, low-sodium and gluten-free diets. To sign up for a store tour, visit