Best nutrients to have in your ‘one a day’ supplement

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Is Your Multivitamin Good(NaturalHealth365) Are you consuming a ‘one a day’ supplement? For many people, the taking of a multivitamin/multimineral (MM) supplement is to “cover all the bases,” trying to make sure no significant vitamin or mineral deficiencies occur among the vitamins and minerals commonly considered to be the most important.

This is a perfectly reasonable goal, especially for the individual without the money, time, or motivation to take a wide array of more highly-dosed supplements and nutrients throughout the day. By the same token, achieving such a “lack of deficiency” should not lead you to think that a given vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient is being optimally supplemented.

Are you expecting too much from your doctor?

Sadly, many healthcare providers consider MM supplements, as well as supplementation in general, to be a complete waste of money, so don’t count on receiving clear-cut guidelines or support from your doctor or even from friends you may have in the healthcare industry. As with so many other aspects of trying to keep healthy, you are pretty much on your own, and you need to take your own best scientific look at some of the pros and cons of a given MM supplement and make your own decision as to what best serves your health.

Are all multivitamin/multimineral supplements the same?

While the similarities might be substantial, virtually all MM preparations are unique in their own right, having some ingredients others do not have, and having significant dosing differences between identical ingredients. Furthermore, there are significant variations among the “same” ingredients, such as what anion is attached to the cation (like magnesium oxide versus magnesium glycinate). But, that’s a discussion for another day.

Three nutrients to avoid in your nutritional supplement

The ‘big three’ to avoid are calcium, iron, and copper. All three of these elements strongly contribute to increased oxidative stress in the body, unless you are clearly deficient in them.

That said, no adult would ever be expected to be legitimately deficient in calcium in their non-bony tissues. A true copper deficiency is a virtual myth as well. Of the three, only iron would ever be expected to be deficient in an adult.

When such a condition has been diagnosed, iron supplementation is appropriate, but only to the point of restoring the deficiency, not beyond. For iron, this usually means the resolution of an iron deficiency anemia while addressing its source, such as excessive menstruation in young women, or gastrointestinal blood loss, as from cancer or ulcer disease, as more commonly seen in older adults.

Allow me to make myself perfectly clear.

You really do not want any MM supplement that contains any of these three elements. Of note, very many of these supplements have large amounts of calcium – which should be a strong deterrent against even taking such an MM supplement at all. A regular large dose of calcium is going to negate much, if not most, of the benefits of an MM supplement in the long run.

One rare MM supplement, called “Two-Per-Day Capsules,” has only six mg of calcium per capsule, and it contains no copper or iron. It is made by Life Extension Foundation. I have no formal or financial connection with this organization, but I do use a lot of their products personally.

What should I be looking for in a good ‘MM’ supplements?

A good MM supplement should contain vitamins A, C, D3, E, along with B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, and B12. Of these, it is especially important to be aware of the total vitamin D3 you are taking daily. While substantial variation in individual needs exist, most adults will not need to take more than 5,000 units of D3 daily to keep their blood level tests in the 50 to 80 ng/ml range – which is what I recommend.

Each capsule of the MM supplement mentioned above has 1,000 units of D3. If you are already a consumer of a wide variety of supplements, you will also find D3 to be a common component of many of them. When such a variety is consumed, and then you take the “recommended” 5,000 units of D3 daily as a separate supplement, you could be well above the daily amount of D3 that you should be ingesting.

Have you ever tested your vitamin D level in your blood?

This is all the more reason for making sure your blood levels end up in the recommended range. Too little vitamin D3 can literally be deadly, as can too much vitamin D3 over an extended period of time. Blood testing need not be frequent once you’ve been on a good dose for a year or more, as D3 levels do not fluctuate widely from one month to the next.

However, there is no safe way to completely avoid testing at least a couple times the first year of supplementation to see that you are where you want to be. After that, many individuals can test once a year to see that the level is not unduly rising or declining.

Is there anything else I should know about my MM supplement?

If your MM supplement does not contain calcium, iron, or copper, you are “ahead of the game” already. However, you should always look for amino acid chelate forms of the minerals you ingest, such as magnesium glycinate.

This makes that component doubly beneficial, and gives you both a beneficial cation and anion. Some MM preparations are so devoid of quality minerals that it is probably better to take just a good multivitamin and separately address the minerals, or at least take a separate multimineral supplement that is predominantly composed of amino acid chelates.

Bolstering the super important components.

Even when you are avoiding severe deficiencies with a good MM supplement, don’t delude yourself into thinking that your bases are well-covered. Vitamin C needs to be dosed for most people at multi-gram amounts daily.

Magnesium needs to be taken at multi-hundred milligram amounts. Vitamin D3 has to be taken properly to achieve the correct blood levels. Vitamin K needs to be taken in adequate amounts, and it should be noted that some MM supplements contain no vitamin K.

Other important components of a MM supplement need to be increased in amount depending upon one’s underlying medical condition, such as increased thiamine and pyridoxine in neuropathies.

A final word of ‘good’ health advice.

Overall, a good MM supplement can be expected to bolster good health. However, never take a supplement that contains calcium, iron, or copper, or you might completely negate the positive benefits of the supplement and then some. Also, remember that the important components typically minimally-dosed in an MM supplement, as mentioned above, really need to be addressed separately.

About the author: Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD is a board-certified internist and cardiologist. He is also bar-certified for the practice of law. He has written extensively on the importance of eliminating toxins while bolstering antioxidant defenses in the body, with particular focus on vitamin C. His new book entitled Death by Calcium: Proof of the toxic effects of dairy and calcium supplements is now available at or

In this new book, for the first time, Dr. Levy has assembled extensive sections on his treatment protocols for cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and other chronic degenerative diseases. As well, this new book contains his extensive “Guide to the Optimal Administration of Vitamin C.” His website is

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  • Joan Camara

    I was hoping you’d mention the magnesium stearate that’s in practically every bottle in the health stores….and your opinion on it.

  • Well Wisdom

    Magnesium stearate is formed by adding a magnesium ion to stearic acid. Magnesium stearate allows the machinery used for the manufacturing process to run faster and smoother by preventing the pills from sticking together.

    There are studies that show stearic acid suppresses T cells, which is a key part of the immune system.

    It is best to buy vitamins without this additive.

    • Lee

      Well Wisdom, thanks for talking about the ill effects of
      magnesium stearate. In addition to what you have noted, Dr. Mercola
      once said in an audio interview that magnesium stearate can build up
      in the intestinal tract, potentially creating a thin film which
      interferes with nutrient absorption.

      The Life Extension MM mentioned in the article includes
      “vegetable stearate.” The use of stearates, as well as the use of crops
      known to be GMO (and yet not labeled non-GMO) is why I stopped using
      LIfe Extension products. Some of them include rice as a filler, but the
      rice is not labeled organic. The product mentioned in the article
      includes soybeans, which are also not labeled as organic.

      “Detox or Die” by Dr. Sherry Rogers, I was steered to a number of high
      quality supplements manufacturers. Yes, their products tend to be
      pricier, but for those prices, one is assured of pure, readily absorbed
      contents, free from additives and other undesirables. Thorne has since
      become my favorite.

      As for an MM, I use
      Thorne’s Basic Nutrients 2/Day, and (like the Life Extension MM
      referenced above), it does not include iron or copper. Its calcium
      content is 15mg. per capsule. The label says that 30mg. daily is 3% of
      the daily nutrient requirement. I appreciate Dr. Levy’s alert to notice
      the copper, iron, and calcium contents of an MM.

      Dr. Levy, I am a big fan of yours. If you are reading these comments,
      you may wish to consider having you or a staff member respond to some of
      the wild comments being made on Amazon in response to your book, “Death
      by Calcium.” People who seemingly have not even read the book are
      arguing about what they think are its contents. I have regarded those
      responses as strange (and as perhaps having a pro-calcium agenda, due to
      their inaccuracy). What I do know is that they certainly are not
      helpful. Thanks!

      • raisinbread

        I know it’s a year later, but I am just now finding this is my research for what good MM to take. Your post is great, and am glad to have read it. I excitedly went to vitacost to find the Thorne product you said you take now. You said there is no copper in it. However, it is indeed listed on the label as having 750 mcg per serving. Have they changed it, or am I looking at something different than you suggested?

        EDIT: Ah, I see, disregard. I found the one you are likely taking, it’s the “Thorne Research Basic Nutrients III without Copper and Iron.”

  • Lee

    Hello again,
    After I posted a response to Well Wisdom (above), I did a quick search for the health effects of magnesium stearate (which I’ll hereafter shorten to m/s).

    This Dr. Mercola article discusses dangers of m/s, indicating how it can become contaminated with harmful toxins, as well as possibly damaging T-cells (which are immune system killer cells).
    https://articles.mercola. com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/23/whole-food-supplement-dangers.aspx

    However, a reader identified as Arius117, responding to the Mercola article, gave four citations for a position disputing health issues with m/s. (The response, does not, however, address the contamination issue.)

    The first of those four is here:
    https://www.wellnessresources. com/health/articles/the_facts_on_magnesium_stearate/
    From that source:
    “The study is a preliminary cell study done by researchers who are trying to make new immunosuppressive drugs for people with organ transplants. In the experiment they expose T cells and B cells to a lab concoction they
    brewed up which is a mixture of stearic acid, diatomaceous earth, and
    bovine serum albumin (a far different compound than magnesium stearate).

    “The T cells and B cells were prepared in an antibiotic-rich medium and
    exposed to inflammatory toxic challenge prior to exposure to the
    lab-concocted test brew. The whole intent of the study was to injure T
    cells in some way, meaning that direct exposure of the T cells to the
    amount of the concoction had to be adequate to damage the T cells or the
    researchers weren’t going to bother with the experiment.”
    (More elaboration at the link.)

    The second of the four is this T-cell study:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/…/PMC1384169

    Thirdly, here is a biofilm study (I had mentioned in my initial post that I heard Dr. Mercola express concern over biofilm formation from m/s):

    Soni KA, Jesudhasan P, Cepeda M, Widmer K, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS, Hume ME, Pillai SD.
    Identification of ground beef-derived fatty acid inhibitors of
    autoinducer-2-based cell signaling. J Food Prot. 2008 January

    This study indicates that stearic acid helps prevent the formation of biofilms.

    Fourthly, discussion of this study can be found at:
    https://www.wellnessresources. com/studies/stearic_acid_helps_prevent_biofilm_formation/

    In addition, Molly Malone, on that same site, offered this excellent linked information about m/s: com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=magnesium+stearate+study&s..
    This is a pdf titled:”Magnesium Stearate: Myth Versus Science” By:
    Stephen Olmstead, MD, David Wolfson, ND, Janet Ralston, BS, and Dennis Meiss, PhD.

    “One claim … is that it has a suppressive effect on certain aspects
    of immune function. This claim is based upon an in vitro study in which
    mouse T lymphocytes were incubated with high concentrations of stearic
    acid leading to a disruption of cell membrane fluidity and
    functionality. First, the validity of extrapolating in vitro data to in
    vivo systems is always questionable as test tube environments cannot
    replicate the complex web of biochemical and physiological processes
    taking place within living organisms. Second, the study in question
    utilized T cells from mice which behave differently than human T cells. A
    third factor to consider is that in vitro studies examining the effects
    of fatty acids on immune cells have not yielded consistent results.

    “A final factor to consider is the extreme unlikelihood that the
    relatively miniscule amounts of stearic acid found in most nutritional
    supplements will have a significant impact on immune function. The daily
    consumption of stearic acid in the United States from food alone
    averages almost 7,000 mg/day.10 In comparison, a person who daily
    consumed 20 vitamin tablets or capsules weighing 1,000 mg each and
    containing a relatively high magnesium stearate concentration of 1.5%
    would take in under 300 mg/day of stearic acid. The issue of solubility
    may be irrelevant as slower dissolution of a tablet or capsule does not
    necessarily imply poorer absorption of its contents.”

    The Mercola community is a very educated group, and well worth reading. If you care to look further at what was discussed in response to the above-referenced Mercola article, you’ll find almost 300 posts there. It’s a truly fascinating read, covering range of aspects of the m/s issue.

  • Well Wisdom

    Thanks for the response. It’s always good to know that this audience does their homework. The articles are informative and raise awareness, but a dialog helps activate innovative thinking.