Vitamin for teenagers?
September 15, 2008 7:50 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good vitamin for a 16 year old? My teen daughter is active in sports, theatre, takes advanced courses in school, and doesn't eat the veggies that she should--not to mention eating junk food at school.
posted by sandra194 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A standard multi-vitamin should work just fine. Maybe something targeted at women. Nothing special.

Odds are that she's perfectly healthy, but a properly-formulated vitamin taken in moderation never hurt anyone.
posted by valkyryn at 8:12 AM on September 15, 2008

My Dad, a family practice physician, has always maintained that the only vitamin that has clinically proven benefits for women to take is Folic acid. He's a pretty smart guy, so I've taken prenatal vitamins since high school (and never been or planned to become pregnant). They have all the other good stuff of a standard multi-vitamin + Folic acid.

The other advantage of the prenatal vitamins is often they have somewhat smaller formulation, unlike some of the horse pills you see in standard multi-vits, which makes them easier to swallow and less gag-inducing.
posted by RachelSmith at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding a standard daily multi-vitamin. No substitute for healthy eating, but in a non-ideal world it's a relatively safe way to prevent deficiencies.

I take omega 3 fish oil capsules myself, because my diet contains virtually no fish, and overall the evidence seems to suggest that these oils have some benefits for health.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:30 AM on September 15, 2008

Best answer: If she is balking at swallowing a huge pill, there are a lot of options with gummy vitamins. Some are specifically targeted towards adults so you don't have to worry about her only getting a kids' dosage.
posted by amicamentis at 8:51 AM on September 15, 2008

Another less-yukky alternative is Viactiv. They have vitamin chews (never used them, but I am satisfied with their calcium chews) and "flavor glides" which are regular swallow-able vitamins that are coated with a flavor so they go down easier.
posted by radioamy at 10:54 AM on September 15, 2008

Beware: I once bought a big bottle of gummy vitamins (Flintstones) and couldn't stop eating them. I ate the entire bottle in one evening.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:35 PM on September 15, 2008

I just happened to have my Nutrition Action newsletter about multi-vitamins out to answer another AskMe questions. It's put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Looks like this article isn't available online. They put together a list of recommended brands based on the amounts of certain vitamins (looks like no more than 400mcg folic acid, no more than 100 mcg selenium, and over 400 IU of Vitamin D). Here's the list for premenopausal women:

Centrum (they were planning on reformulating to 400 mcg of folic acid when the article was written)
CVS Daily Multiple Plus Minerals
CVS Naturalized Spectravite
CVS Spectravite Advanced Formula
GNC Solo Day
Kirkland Signature Daily Multi
Nature Made Multi Complete
Nature's Bounty ABC Plus
One-A-Day Maximum
Puritan's Pride ABC Plus
Puritan's Pride Multi-Day Plus Minerals
Rite Aide Central-Vite
Safeway Select Central-Vite
Safeway Select Maximum One Table Daily
Sundown Advanced Formula Sunvite
Sundown Naturals Complete Daily
Sundown Naturals Daily Multi
Target Multivitamin/Multimineral
Vitamin World ABC Plus
Walgreens Advanced Formula A thru Z
posted by amarynth at 5:11 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

When choosing a multivitamin I pay particular attention to the forms of the vitamins and minerals it contains.

For example, chelated magnesium is shown to be more bioavailable with saliva testing

Few other things to look for, a variety of vitamin a's (retinol, carotene, lutein, lycopene etc), vitamin e composed of tocopherols and tocotrienls, rda's aren't crazy excessive.
posted by zentrification at 5:48 PM on September 15, 2008

a properly-formulated vitamin taken in moderation never hurt anyone

Really? A recent Cochrane Review found that:
Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin E may increase mortality. Future randomised trials could evaluate the potential effects of vitamin C and selenium for primary and secondary prevention. Such trials should be closely monitored for potential harmful effects. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing.
That is to say, the evidence shows that vitamin A and vitamin E are probably slightly bad for you when taken as supplements, while vitamin C and selenium may be bad for you and this is something that needs more study. (Cochrane reviews are well-respected meta-studies that evaluate the existing evidence for specific health interventions).

Michael Pollan's essay on food, Unhappy Meals goes into some detail on the disconnect between identifying nutrients in food and focusing on them as a source of health.

The same applies to minerals. It's not clear that most of these kinds of supplements do any good and fairly clear that some of them do (mild) harm to at least some people. As far as I can tell, the only good reason to take supplemental vitamins or minerals is when a clear medical need has been identified.
posted by xchmp at 2:36 AM on September 16, 2008

Following up with xchmp, when I used to work with doctors (nothing I did was medical in any way and I am an idiot), people taking vowel vitamins was something that wrecked their bedside manner and made them stomp around and order another round.

The gist of it was, you get more than enough A & E, especially A. I was given to understand that you can get adequate A from a snack-size bag of Fritos once a week.

Pre-natal are the only multi that don't have obscene amounts of A.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:33 PM on September 16, 2008

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