What should we be looking for when choosing a vitamin supplement? Can customized vitamin and mineral blends formulated to meet your body's specific needs based on metabolic markers really make a difference? I think so, do you?
There is a lot more to supplements than can be said in a forum, but for the most part they are designed to be a 'supplement' to your daily intake of the macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein). Chances are that if you are an athlete on this site you are eating better than the general public, but the effects of the standard american diet still show through our heavily processed foods. Keep in mind that the words 'natural', 'farm fresh', and 'diet' do not equal organic. I would much rather a person be able to alter their diet than take a supplement, but sometimes life doesn't allow it. Life happens, but with how much our foods are fortified with the micronutrients you should be generally safe from deficiency diseases like beriberi, scurvy and pellagra. Another note to keep in minde is that there are various research articles that claim that general multivitamins have no effect, but just by being the type of person who would take a multivitamin to improve your health is enough. These claims also extend to such an extent that they claim that certain combinations of the antioxidants (Vitamins A,C,E, selenium, and beta carotene) actually increase morbitity and mortality. With that said, the articles can be twisted and manipulated with experimental design errors and bias and so you should always be skeptical on what you read.
I believe that supplements will make a difference in your diet and lifestyle, especially as athletes that put stresses on the body that the general public doesn't have to deal with. I can definitely notice a difference on days where I havn't taken my supplements for a few days.
As for a custom blend, I wouldn't pay extra for it. If you find a quality multivitamin you should be mostly set. Make sure the supplement contains sufficient easily digestible potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These are usually a bit harder to come by and you may have to find an additional bottle containing just those as they take up more space in a pill to get the daily recommended amounts.
For me, I choose to take a few different supplements. I use a general multivitamin from Thorne Research called Basic Nutrients 3 and a Calcium-Magnesium Citramate complex. I also take Omega-3 oils, boswellia complex, and rhodiola from a company called Standard Process.
The post above says it all... I'm also a vegetarian runner so I know I have to be careful about the protein intake. Along with a basic multivitamin (Centrum performance... that i bought because it was on sale) My post-run smoothie has a small scoop of protein powder. I honestly don't think that there's more bs in the 'health' industry than there are actual good supplements. And yea, natural is not neccessarily good... think arsenic.