Multivitamins: Essential Elements

These nutrients are among those considered necessary for optimal health.
By Cynthia Sass, R.D.

Check your multivitamin for adequate amounts of these four nutrients, or obtain them with appropriate food choices.

Calcium
Why you need it: Required to maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis; also necessary for muscle contractions and optimal nervous system function 100 percent of the Daily Value: 1,000 mg. The body can't absorb this much calcium at once, so most multis will only provide some of the DV. Look to foods (like those listed below) to fill in the gaps.
Food sources: Milk, yogurt, and cheese

Magnesium
Why you need it: Necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, including maintaining heart rhythm 100 percent of the Daily Value: 400 mg
Food sources: Almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, avocados, and chocolate

Folate/Folic acid (Folate is in natural form; folic acid is the synthetic form. Either is acceptable.)
Why you need it: Prevents birth defects that occur early in pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant 100 percent of the Daily Value: 400 micrograms
Food sources: Spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and orange juice

Zinc
Why you need it: Essential for healing, immune function, and to maintain senses of taste and smell 100 percent of the Daily Value: 15 mg
Food sources: Oysters, red meat, yogurt, and cashews