Approximately half of all American adults (117 million people) have one or more preventable, chronic diseases [1]. Many of them stem from poor eating patterns and/or lack of physical activity. Although most nutrients that protect your health can be found in a well-balanced diet, surveys conducted by the USDA have concluded that many individuals do not consume enough food, or the right kinds of food, to reach the Estimated Average Requirement or Adequate Intake levels of a few key nutrients. This trend may be caused in part by the fact that, quite literally, “food just isn’t what it used to be”. 

An article published in Scientific American in 2011 noted that the fruits and vegetables we eat today are far less nutritious than those consumed by our grandparents’ generation, mostly due to soil depletion, but also due to breeding for characteristics like quantity and shelf-life over nutrient density [2]. Data describing 43 different vegetables and fruits were analyzed, showing significant declines over the last 50 years in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), and vitamin C they contained [2]. It is probably not a coincidence then that there is some overlap in the nutrients that have been lost from our food and the nutrients that Americans generally lack. The latter list includes potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C [1].

Along with a harsh cost to patients’ physical health, there is a financial burden associated with many of the preventable diseases caused by poor nutrition. In 2012, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in decreased productivity [1]. 

But these facts are no reason to panic. All of the above-mentioned nutrients, plus their synergistic, health-boosting counterparts can be supplemented with a high-quality multivitamin/mineral formula like Metabolic Maintenance’s “The BIG ONE®”.

What’s in The BIG ONE®?

A single The BIG ONE® capsule is packed with all of the key nutrients listed above at optimal levels, providing a solid framework for further individualized supplementation. The BIG ONE® also delivers activated B vitamins, trace minerals, and foundational amounts of antioxidants, including mixed carotenoids and tocopherols. The BIG ONE® with Iron provides iron as ferrous bis-glycinate, a well-tolerated, bioavailable form. The BIG ONE® is offered in three different formulations for your unique needs: The BIG ONE® without iron, The BIG ONE® with iron, and The BIG ONE® Plus 2000 IU of Vitamin D, without iron.

All three formulas include antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, and selenium, to reduce oxidative stress by scavenging free radicals that can cause cellular damage. The B-vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, biotin, and pantothenic acid are all cofactors for enzymes needed for cellular energy production and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Thiamine, folate, B-12 are also involved in neural development and neurotransmitter synthesis.

L-Methylfolate and B-6 are required for homocysteine metabolism, hormone and mood balance, and folate has been named the most important nutrient to consume during pregnancy, for the prevention of neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord, and premature birth [3]. If you are pregnant or have the capability of becoming pregnant, please be advised that the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for folate are based on the prevention of folate deficiency, not on the prevention of neural tube defects. The RDA for adult women is at least 400 micrograms (mcg) Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE) and for women during pregnancy, at least 600 mcg DFE daily from all sources [1]. Because more recent science has uncovered the overwhelming prevalence of genetically inherited folate processing inefficiency, Metabolic Maintenance has gone above and beyond to include L-methylfolate, the activated version of folate, in these formulas. Taking this version of vitamin B-9/folate allows every person to reap the benefits of activated folate, without relying on MTHFR enzyme production to dictate our health.

Vitamins D and K (especially K-2) are known to help maintain calcium homeostasis, allowing calcium to be absorbed from the bloodstream into bones. Zinc, copper, manganese, and boron also support bone mineralization.

Vitamins A and D are also immunomodulators, complemented by zinc, which promotes T-lymphocyte activity.

Chromium and vanadium support normal insulin function and glycemic control.

Iodine is a precursor in the formation of thyroid hormones, thereby supporting your metabolism and the health of your thyroid.

Which Formula is Right for Me?

Only you and your doctor can make that decision, and you may want to have your blood tested to be sure. However, The Big One® with Iron is generally recommended for women in their childbearing years, as this is the group of people most likely to suffer from anemia (iron deficiency). The Big One® without iron is then generally recommended for men, menopausal and postmenopausal women, or those who have demonstrated healthy levels of iron in their blood.

The Big One® with Iron

If you are a vegetarian, you may also find yourself with an iron deficiency, even if you are sure to include iron-containing vegetables in your diet. The reason for this is that there are different kinds of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the type found naturally in animal flesh and, typically, 20-30% of the heme iron consumed in a meal will be absorbed [4]. In contrast, the amount of non-heme iron (which is what you’ll find in dark, leafy greens and dairy products) absorbed from food is approximately only 5-12% of the amount listed on the nutritional label [4]. This is because non-heme iron has to be altered during digestion in order to allow absorption, while heme iron is more readily bioavailable. Consuming non-heme iron in combination with vitamin C can somewhat improve its bioavailability, but a more predictable option is to take a supplement like The Big One® with Iron if you know your diet could use a boost of this essential mineral to improve your blood levels.

The BIG ONE® without iron

Although iron is an essential mineral, and anemia is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide, causing serious consequences to patient health, it is possible to have too much iron. Usually, there is very little free iron in the blood, as it is mostly bound to other molecules, targeting its destinations for use. When there is too much iron, however, free iron is circulated in the blood and acts as a prooxidant (like an anti-antioxidant) causing cellular damage in its wake. The only natural way to reduce iron levels is by bleeding. This is the reason women who menstruate and people who give blood regularly are least likely to suffer from iron toxicity, and most likely to be iron deficient. This is also the reason Metabolic Maintenance offers The Big One® without iron, for all of those who do not need to supplement their iron intake.

The BIG ONE® Plus 2000 IU of Vitamin D, without iron

Recommendations for your intake of dietary vitamin D assume an average minimum sun exposure, as the skin can make its own vitamin D in response to sunlight. When sunshine exposure is limited due to climate, season, use of sunscreen, or working indoors during daylight hours, people are often found to be vitamin D deficient. Also, there is a wide range of “minimum sun exposure” depending on your skin color. The darker your skin, the more time you must spend in the sun to make sufficient vitamin D. Taking a supplement can replace that time in the sun, which can be difficult to carve out of a busy schedule, or impossible in dark, cold, winter months.

Again, you and your doctor are best equipped to decide which formula is right for you and whether some additional, individualized supplementation could be taken in tandem with these daily multivitamin/minerals to help optimize your health. Please remember that preventable diseases are rampant due to nutritional deficiency, and this problem can be mitigated, in part, by making sure your healthy body is getting every nutrient it needs to function.


  1. USDA. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, Eighth Edition”. Accessed through the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Website, June 10, 2019.
  2. Scheer, Roddy, and Doug Moss. “Dirt poor: Have fruits and vegetables become less nutritious.” Scientific American (2011): 97-104.
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff, “Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients”. Healthy Lifestyle:Pregnancy Week by Week. Feb 15, 2017.

Hemochromatosis Help Staff. “Heme Iron vs. Non Heme Iron in Food”. Hemochromatosis Help. Accessed June 12, 2019.