I’ve long recommended taking a good multivitamin for your overall health and wellbeing. It’s nearly impossible to get all the nutrients your body needs from food alone. But one thing I’ve come to learn over the years is that just as our lives and the world around us change, so does what we need from a multivitamin.
It's increasingly clear that stress, environmental toxins, and even the blue light in our electronic devices, are impacting our health. Plus, while the common cardio meds prescribed today have greatly improved, they’re still leaving us with nutrient depletions. So, making sure your multivitamin goes beyond the basics—supporting not only your physical health, but your overall wellbeing—is extremely important.
So, what should you look for in a multivitamin? Here’s what I recommend. And to take the guesswork out of having to mix and match nutrients, I have also put together my own multivitamin formula.
1. A Core Nutrient Foundation that Works with Your Cardio Meds
When is the last time you read the label on a multivitamin bottle? With many of them, you’ll see a lot of nutrients listed, but not necessarily in the right forms and amounts. Plus, some alarm me with their high calcium level, which is well beyond what I consider a “cardio-safe” dosage.
A good nutrient foundation is important not only for your health but to replace nutrients depleted by your heart medications. Virtually every type of cardiovascular medication—including statins, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, and vasodilators—deplete your body of numerous vitamins and minerals. Even over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can interfere with your body’s nutrient levels.
To ensure your health is covered, I recommend taking a multivitamin with a strong nutrient foundation, including vitamins B6 (20-40 mg), B12 (200-250 mcg), and C (150-400 mg), along with thiamine (20 mg), magnesium (100-250 mg), selenium (100 mcg), zinc (10-20 mg), folate (a minimum of 170 mcg DFE), and calcium (50-200 mg).
2. Vitamin D, at a Full 4,000 IU Research Dose
How are your vitamin D levels? This is one of the first things I always checked in my heart patients. You need vitamin D for everything from strong bones to a healthy cardiovascular system. Yet, 42% of people in the US are vitamin D deficient—many without realizing it.1
Your skin uses sunshine to manufacture vitamin D and your ability to do that slows down as you age. Plus, it’s tough to get enough from food. You would need to drink a full quart of fortified milk daily to get just 400-600 IU of vitamin D, which is far less than our bodies need.
Research points to 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily as the optimal research dose for supporting bone health, muscle strength, and overall emotional wellbeing and mood.2 Plus, it supports healthy triglyceride levels, glycemic (blood sugar) control, and healthy insulin levels. Vitamin D is also a potent antioxidant, improving markers of oxidative stress.
While 1,000 -2,000 IUs of vitamin D is a good base to start with, to make sure you’re covered and are getting the full benefits I recommend taking a multivitamin with 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
3. Lutein & Zeaxanthin for Vision Support
Do your eyes feel fatigued after staring at a computer screen for too long? Or do you wish your eyes could recover more quickly after looking at a bright light and that you could feel more comfortable when driving at night? The best way to give your eyes the support they need is with two potent carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Research shows that taking 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin daily helps to enhance macular pigment optical density (MPOD). These are the pigments in your macula that act as “internal sunglasses,” helping to protect your eyes from blue light we’re exposed to in sunlight, fluorescent and LED lights, computer screens, smartphones, and other electronics.
At the full 10 mg research dosage, lutein also helps to improve visual function when you’re driving at night. Plus, lutein and zeaxanthin help to support faster visual recovery after bright light exposure—like that temporary “blindness” you experience when looking at a camera flash. They also help you to distinguish between objects that are similar in color.
Based on the latest research and the impact computers and smart devices are having on our eyes, I have upped my recommendation for lutein to 10 mg, taken with 2 mg of zeaxanthin.
4. Ashwagandha (and More) for Stress, Mood & Sleep
Something I learned early on in my medical career is that stress can have an enormous impact on heart health. It can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and more. This is something we’re seeing playing out across the world as our stress levels have risen.
One of the best ways to help your body adapt to stress is with a powerful adaptogen called ashwagandha. It works directly on your body’s “stress feedback loop,” helping to support normal levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Plus, it helps you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and supports healthy levels of CRP, a marker of inflammation.
I recommend looking for a multinutrient that contains 125 mg of Sensoril® ashwagandha, along with other Ayurvedic ingredients that help to calm the autonomic nervous system, including holy basil, amla, and turmeric. Together, these nutrients can make a real difference in how you feel, helping with stress, your mood, and even how well you sleep.
5. Antioxidants to Protect Your Heart & Entire Body
I’m greatly concerned about the number of toxins in our environment and the impact they can have on your heart and overall health. That’s why I firmly recommend eating fruits and berries to give your body the protective antioxidants, but it’s tough to get enough antioxidants from your diet alone.
To make sure you’re covered, I recommend taking a multivitamin that contains an antioxidant-rich profile. Sources of phytonutrients include acai, acerola, amla, cranberry, goji, jaboticaba, mangosteen, maqui, pomegranate, and strawberries.
6. Crominex 3+ and Trans Resveratrol for Overall Heart Support
When you take a multivitamin with all of the core nutrients I listed above—including ample amounts of B vitamins, Vitamin D, and Sensoril ashwagandha—you can reap even more heart benefits by adding two more heart-supporting nutrients. These include Crominex® 3+ chromium and trans resveratrol.
Together, all of these nutrients support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, including helping to:
- Maintain healthy blood pressure levels
- Promote normal homocysteine levels
- Support the structure of the blood vessels
- Promote brain health
- Support normal C-Reactive Protein (CRP), an inflammatory response marker
- Support healthy HDL and LDL cholesterol
- Promote healthy glycemic control
What Is the Best Way to Get All of These Nutrients?
You can certainly put together your own vitamin combination based on my recommendations. I’ve also combined them into a new formula called Heart Healthy Multivitamin COMPLETE to make it easier for you to get them all in one formula that is only two pills a day.
The important thing is to make sure you’re covered with a good multivitamin formula. I take one every day as part of my heart health regimen and if you’re not taking one now, it’s never too late to start.
1 Forrest, K. Y. Z. & Stuhldreher, W. L. Prevalence and Correlates of Vitamin D Deficiency in US Adults. Nutr Res. 31, 48–54 (2011).
2 Omidian, M. et al. 2019. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on …: Randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial.