Vitamins for mostly-vegetarians?
February 21, 2011 3:26 PM   Subscribe

Please help me through the vitamin labyrinth. I have some idea of what I would find ideal, but finding it is rather hard. Please suggest vitamins that meet my criteria.

Calcium - 500mg or so, more tends to make pills huge, calcium citrate preferably, but other forms might do.

Vitamin D (D3) - at least 600 IU, ideally 1000 IU, not over 2000 IU.

B12 - 2.4 mcg (no known toxicity upper limit, but all the same, please not over 50 mcg)

Zinc - at least 11 mg, or better 16 mg.

Folate, selenium, copper and misc 'trace minerals' at RDA/DRI levels for 23 yo female.

Vitamin A - less or none is fine, but no more than 2333 IU, this ideally being more beta-carotene and less retinol.

Additional vitamins I didn't mention are ok but definitely no megadoses of anything else. Some combination of 2 pills works too. This is for a mostly-vegetarian friend.
posted by MrFish to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I'm not your doctor, but I was just wondering: does your friend have a problem with their kidneys such that they cannot excrete excess vitamins brought about by a regular multivitamin? Or are there any special precautions (extremely old, liver disease, etc)?
posted by onegoodthing at 4:50 PM on February 21, 2011

onegoodthing -- Some vitamins are fat soluble and an excess is not safely excreted out. That said, I'm guessing MrFish's friend's criteria have been difficult to meet due to finding multivitamins with too little of the indicated components, rather than too much (e.g. I'm looking at my rather standard One A Day bottle, and it provides only 400 IU of Vitamin D to meet "100% RDA"... which is why I supplement).
posted by telegraph at 5:11 PM on February 21, 2011

It might be worth adding some more information to get more detailed suggestions. On what are the estimates based? Are they to prevent or treat certain conditions? Is she able to change her diet to get some of these vitamins/minerals?
posted by paindemie at 5:19 PM on February 21, 2011

All the items you are wanting are available in health food stores. In general, supermarket/drug store vitamin brands are roughly comparable, and health food store brands are roughly comparable, but health food store brands are much better than supermarket/drug store brands. The only other suggestion is that a multi-B with extra B12 may be better than just B-12, as when you improve the metabolism for one B you often increase the metabolism for others. (Unless you know your friend has trouble assimilating B12, inwhich case she need sublingual and/or with intrinsic factor added B12). If you present that list to a health food store employee, you should have no problem finding all of them!
posted by grizzled at 5:56 PM on February 21, 2011

I have never seen a commercial vitamin supplement with less than 100 mcg B-12; they usually supply 200 or 300 mcg.

The majority of humans are deficient in B-12, so if your friend has an issue with excess B-12, she will probably need to get a specific recommendation for something specially formulated for people with that concern rather than getting something off the shelf.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:31 PM on February 21, 2011

Hmm. No, no special deficiencies or sensitivities. Just not fond of the idea of doses hugely over DRIs without reason. As far as the high vitamin D, there seems to be evidence of benefit, with no risk at 1000 IU. Zinc, as I understand, is poorly absorbed on a vegetarian diet, so bit higher there.

Another thing is the number of pills. Too many is a pain to take. If one took like 5 pills, it would be easy to get what I'm looking for. But getting it in fewer pills, say two, is tricky. She already takes a fish oil pill.

My main sources as basis for what's ideal are HSPH and LPI. Also consulting the latest DRIs from the Institute of Medicine.
posted by MrFish at 11:14 AM on February 22, 2011

In that case, I would consider taking a multivitamin every other day instead of every day, as you're concerned about the number of pills taken. (This is the most convenient way of taking vitamins, sadly)

Also, don't forget to get a little bit exposed to the sun (preferably early morning, and only for 5-10 minutes)

@telegraph: excess fat-soluble vitamins do get excreted out, albeit more slowly than water-soluble ones.
posted by onegoodthing at 4:28 PM on February 22, 2011

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