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The Best Multivitamins, According to Doctors, Dietitians, and Nutritionists

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In a perfect world, we’d eat “five to seven cups of vegetables per day and a wide variety of colored produce” to get the nutrients we need, according to naturopathic doctor Kate Denniston. But in our imperfect lives, multivitamins can be a smart “safety net,” as registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition Amy Shapiro says. That’s an opinion seconded by Jennifer Maeng, a registered dietitian and founder of Chelsea Nutrition, who sees them as an “insurance policy, filling potential gaps in the diet.” Still, before you start buying up a supply of supplements, naturopath Ashley Margeson puts it best: “multivitamins should always be approached as an addition to your regular nutrition, not the whole thing.”

The market for vitamins can be, well, rather complicated. Vitamins aren’t regulated by the FDA so they don’t have the same strict regulations as, say, drugs — instead, they’re seen as “generally safe until proven otherwise,” Maeng explains. Shapiro suggests choosing options that have been third-party tested “to make sure they contain what they say they contain.” Leann Poston, a physician and medical-content expert for Invigor Medical, advises shoppers to “look for multivitamins without additives such as herbs, dyes, and fillers [and] look for the seal from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).” Another certification you can check for is the National Science Foundation’s Good Manufacturing Practices (NSF-GMP), which naturopath Maura Henninger recommended when we went in search of the best drugstore vitamins. Labels like USP and NSF mean that a company has voluntarily gone “through rigorous audit processes to evaluate the quality of products,” Maeng points out.

So what’s included in most multivitamins? Typically, you’ll find vitamins A through E, along with other metals and minerals (think calcium, copper, and iron), explains Nicole Sohayegh, a registered dietitian with New York City Nutrition. There is one caveat to consider: The efficacy of multivitamins is not exactly agreed upon in the medical community: “Most trials and studies show no (or a modest) effect of multivitamins in the general population,” says Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of health science at Ball State University. Before you start taking any multivitamin, consult your doctor. Don’t just go with whatever you find first at your local Walgreens. We asked doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists for their favorites, which you’ll see below.

Best multivitamins for most people

Along with looking for third-party testing, another way to assess multivitamin quality is to check that the vitamins inside are in their bioactive forms, which will be completely absorbed and used by your body. According to naturopath Ashley Margeson, you want to see vitamin A listed as beta-carotene; iron as a citrate or other ferrous fumarate, sulphate, or gluconate; and folate as L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5 MTHF. “If these three ingredients are in the bioactive forms, then you can be sure most of the other ingredients are also bioactive,” she says. She calls Pure Encapsulations’ Nutrient 950 multivitamin “still one of the best multivitamins on the market.”

One downside of the Nutrient 950 multivitamin above is that you’ll have to take three capsules per day to get the full amount of vitamins and minerals listed on the ingredient label. Registered dietitian nutritionist Nicole German Morgan agrees that Pure Encapsulations “contains the more absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals.” She prefers this formula because “you only have to take one capsule per day.” It’s also a favorite of Sohayegh for the same reason: “If someone has to take a few supplements, it’s not too much of a burden for them to add it to their regimen.” She also praises this multivitamin for not having any artificial coloring or harmful additives — plus it’s gluten free, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic. 

As a “close second” to the first Pure Encapsulations formula mentioned above, Margeson recommends Thorne’s multivitamin because it includes “the right dose of [the] critically important nutrients for our stressful lives” like B6, B5, zinc, and chromium “without overloading on the vitamins that are so easily accessed by our food,” such as magnesium and vitamin C. So it supplies some of what might be deficient in our diets. “The bonus with Thorne is that it comes in two easy capsules per day, as opposed to the three of Pure Encapsulations,” she says.

Best gummy multivitamins

If you were a fan of Flintstones vitamins in your youth, here’s good news: The market for gummy multivitamins has “truly exploded during the last year,” according to Margeson. And Canadian brand Honibe is one of the brands she prefers. “Their gummy multivitamins have no aftertaste, and they have a great amount of B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, and folic acid,” Margeson says. If you’re set on adding gummy multivitamins to your day-to-day menu, you’ll want to keep in mind that their one “downfall” is that they tend to not to have “the same levels of minerals as most tablets do,” Margeson says. Registered dietitian Robin Barrie Kaiden also mentions being wary of gummies made with lots of sugar, corn syrup, or highly processed unhealthy oils (watch out for what’s on those back labels).

Of course, gummy vitamins are an appealing option if you don’t like tablets and capsules. “They are easier to chew for certain populations and everyone is more compliant with taking them because swallowing pills is difficult,” says gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal. Registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller, a member of the Smart Healthy Living advisory board, likes these Nature Made gummies, which have the added boost of omega-3 fatty acids.

Best multivitamins for women

Men and women need different amounts of nutrients, according to Maeng — for example, iron is important for people who menstruate. She recommends Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code since it contains “an adequate amount” of both B12 and iron. Iron and B12 help make essential red blood cells (not having enough of them can cause anemia). Since lots of blood can be lost during that time of the month, the two vitamins aren’t essential just for reproductive health, but for cells and energy in general, Maeng says. It’s a brand that Kaiden is a fan of, too. But Maeng does warn to be careful of vitamins with irons as they can cause constipation.

When it comes to multivitamins made specifically for women, Molly Knauer, registered dietitian and Love Wellness adviser, is a fan of the products from Ritual, a direct-to-consumer newcomer in the vitamin game that offers monthly subscriptions. “I like that Ritual has different options for women depending on their life stage,” she says. The Essential contains iron, which women lose during menstruation, but not calcium, which Knauer likes because “calcium interferes with iron absorption.” For post-menopausal women, she suggests the brand’s Essential for Women 50+ formula, which “has extra omega-3s and folate for brain health, and more calcium, K2, and D3 for bone health.”

While Maeng also likes SmartyPants gummy vitamins, the one downside is that it doesn’t offer essentials like iron and magnesium in its formula. But it does include fish oil and CoQ-10, “which are both great for lowering inflammation and cellular health.” These gummies are a favorite of model Georgia May Jagger, who inspired writer Chloe Anello to try them, too. You can also find these in a capsule form.

Best multivitamin for men

We didn’t forget you, guys. Maeng also approves this Nature Made multivitamin since it’s USP-certified and contains 22 nutrients. Fortunately, you just need to take one tablet a day.

Best multivitamins for older adults

Multivitamins may be even more essential for older adults, since, Morgan says, “as we age, the body can not absorb quite as many nutrients as when we were young.” Miller suggests age-specific vitamins that include “higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, and B vitamins.” Both the men’s and women’s One a Day 50+ multivitamins, which Miller and Sonpal recommend, contain calcium and vitamin D, a powerful combo for keeping aging bones strong. “Vitamin D and calcium work to keep your bones healthy,” Miller says. “Calcium helps build bone, but vitamin D helps you better absorb calcium.”

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The Best Multivitamins, According to Experts