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The Very Best Multivitamins

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In a perfect world, we’d eat “five to seven cups of vegetables per day and a wide variety of brightly colored produce” to get the nutrients we need, according to naturopathic doctor Kate Denniston. But in our imperfect lives, the best multivitamins can be a smart “safety net,” says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition. 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.”

There is one caveat to consider, however: 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. And naturopath Ashley Margeson stresses that “multivitamins should always be approached as an addition to your regular nutrition, not the whole thing.”

To get the most out of any multivitamins you take, choose the very best ones you can find that also fit within your budget. And before you start stocking up on supplements, consult your doctor rather than picking whatever you see first at your local Walgreens. To help you get started, we asked Denniston, Shapiro, Maeng, Margeson, and eight other doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists for their favorite multivitamins as well as those they would recommend for different age groups and specific needs. If you already know what you’re looking for, use the table of contents to skip ahead. Otherwise, keep reading for every one of our expert recommendations.

What we’re looking for

Third-party certifications

The market for vitamins can be complicated. Vitamins aren’t regulated by the FDA, so they don’t have the same strict regulations as, say, prescription 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, suggests checking products for the seal from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). Another thing to check for is the National Science Foundation’s Good Manufacturing Practices (NSF-GMP) certification, 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.

Easily absorbable ingredients

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. Typically, multivitamins will contain vitamins A through E, along with other metals and minerals like calcium, copper, and iron, explains Nicole Sohayegh, a registered dietitian with New York City Nutrition. Margeson says you want to see vitamin A listed as beta-carotene; iron as a citrate or other ferrous fumarate, sulfate, 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. In addition, Poston advises shoppers to “look for multivitamins without additives such as herbs, dyes, and fillers.” All of the multivitamins on this list were recommended for their high-quality, absorbable ingredients.

Designed for specific needs

Different people need different amounts of nutrients, according to Maeng — for example, iron and B12 are important for people who menstruate because they 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, a multivitamin can help replenish iron and B12, which are essential for reproductive health and energy in general, Maeng says. And according to Morgan, multivitamins may be even more essential for older adults, because “as we age, the body can’t 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.”

Type of vitamin

If you were a fan of Flintstones vitamins in your youth, here’s some good news: The market for gummy multivitamins has “truly exploded during the last few years,” according to Margeson. 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. But if you’re adding gummy multivitamins to your day-to-day menu, you’ll want to keep in mind their one downfall: They tend not to have the same levels of minerals as most tablets or capsules, Margeson says. Registered dietitian Robin Barrie Kaiden also mentions being wary of gummies made with lots of sugar, corn syrup, or highly processed oils like partially hydrogenated soybean oil (watch out for what’s listed on those back labels).

The more traditional forms of multivitamins are tablets and capsules, both of which are taken orally and deliver nutrients through digestion. There are a few differences between the two, however, that can make one or the other more preferable depending on your lifestyle and your needs. Tablets are made up of powdered ingredients that are formed into a hard pill. They have a longer shelf life than capsules and can be broken in half. They can also fit more vitamins and minerals in a single pill than can usually fit into one capsule. Capsules, meanwhile, tend to absorb more quickly and more effectively than tablets. And if you hate the taste of your tablet vitamins, switching to a capsule will help you avoid any bitter taste. Lastly, if you are vegan, you’ll want to check that your capsule vitamins don’t contain gelatin.

Dose per day

Taking three pills every morning might not bother you if your multivitamin is all you take on a daily basis. But if you’re regularly taking other medications, it can all start to add up to a queasy stomach. So for those people who really care about the number of tablets, capsules, or gummies needed to get the full dose of any given multivitamin, we’ve noted the daily dose for each product below.

Price per dose

Depending on the recommended dosage, one bottle could last you anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. We’ve calculated the approximate price per dose based on each product’s suggested dose per day.

Best women’s multivitamin overall

Third-party certifications: NSF | Designed for: Women | Type of vitamin: Capsule | Dose per day: 4 capsules | Price: $1.10/dose

Maeng recommends Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code since it contains an adequate amount of both B12 and iron. It’s a brand that Kaiden is a fan of too. Maeng warns to be careful of vitamins with iron as they can cause constipation, but these also include probiotics for optimal gut health to counteract those side effects. They are gluten free, kosher, free of binders and fillers, and NSF-certified.

Best subscription-based multivitamin for women

Third-party certifications: USP | Designed for: Women | Type of vitamin: Vegan capsule | Dose per day: 2 capsules | Price: $1 per dose

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 vitamin-maker 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.”

Best men’s multivitamin overall

Third-party certifications: USP | Designed for: Men | Type of vitamin: Tablet | Dose per day: 1 tablet | Price: $0.10 per dose

Men’s multivitamins are typically formulated to support muscle health, immune health, and a healthy metabolism. Maeng approves of this Nature Made multivitamin for men since it’s USP-certified and contains 22 key nutrients without things that men need less of, like iron. It’s also gluten free and free of artificial colors or flavors. As a bonus, you only need to take one tablet a day.

Best multivitamin for senior men

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Men age 50+ | Type of vitamin: Tablet | Dose per day: 1 tablet | Price: $0.11 per dose

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.”

Best multivitamin for senior women

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Women age 50+ | Type of vitamin: Tablet | Dose per day: 1 tablet | Price: $0.11 per dose

The main difference between the men’s and the women’s One a Day 50+ multivitamins is that the women’s contains more calcium to help combat osteoporosis, as well as more vitamin A, which most doctors recommend more of for senior women. Both formulations are free of gluten, dairy, artificial flavors, and artificial sweeteners.

Best multivitamin for kids

Third-party certifications: NSF | Designed for: Kids ages 2+ | Type of vitamin: Dissolvable tablet | Dose per day: 2 tablets | Price: $0.78 per dose

According to pediatric dietitian Malina Malkani, multivitamin supplements for kids oftentimes aren’t necessary — “I find that even picky eaters tend to get enough vitamins and minerals from their diet,” she says. However, if your child is missing out on key nutrients due to issues like extreme picky eating, food allergies, or celiac disease, Malkani recommends Renzo’s tablets. They come in cherry and apple flavors and contain iron for brain development (which Malkani notes is not often found in multivitamins for kids), zinc for immune health, and vitamin D for muscle and bone health. Malkani adds that for kids who would benefit “from targeted supplementation rather than a multivitamin,” Renzo’s also offers a range of single-nutrient supplements such as Vitamin C and calcium.

Best gummy multivitamin for kids

Third-party certifications: NSF | Designed for: Kids age 4+ | Type of vitamin: Gummy | Dose per day: 4 gummies | Price: $0.56 per dose

Pediatric dietitian and founder of Kid Food Explorers Dani Lebovitz also advocates for a food-first approach to ensure kids fulfill their nutrition needs, but acknowledges that multivitamins can help “bridge the dietary gap” for children who “have micronutrient inadequacies.” Lebovitz also points to studies that show 90 percent of kids today aren’t meeting their fiber requirements, which can cause constipation problems. This SmartyPants multivitamin gummy contains an added four grams of fiber, along with 15 different nutrients that are “vital for brain development, such as choline and omega-3 EPA, and DHA essential fatty acids,” Lebovitz says. Plus, the gummies are free of the top 9 allergens including soy, dairy, and peanuts, and are third-party tested to ensure a high standard of safety.

Best prenatal multivitamin

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Pregnant women | Type of vitamin: Capsule | Dose per day: 8 capsules | Price: $1.67 per dose

This prenatal multivitamin contains higher amounts of ingredients that are essential to pregnancy, like folate, choline, and B12, according to Aubrey Phelps, a registered dietitian and certified lactation counselor. “A lot of prenatal products assume you’re going into pregnancy very healthy, and the reality is that’s not often true,” she says. “Plus, more and more research is now coming out to say the current recommended values are woefully inadequate.” That’s why FullWell’s recommended dosage is quite high at eight capsules per day, but Phelps assures us that you will get what you pay for — all the ingredients in the supplement are bioavailable and easily absorbable by the body, so you’re not just “taking it and pooping it right out” without receiving any benefits.

Best multivitamin for sensitive stomachs

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Most adults | Type of vitamin: Capsule | Dose per day: 3 capsules | Price: $1 per dose

Despite its lack of a USP or NSF certification, Margeson calls Pure Encapsulations’ Nutrient 950 multivitamin “one of the best multivitamins on the market,” thanks to its highly absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Nicole German Morgan agrees, praising the multivitamin for not having any artificial coloring or harmful additives — plus it’s gluten free, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic.

Best lower-dose multivitamin

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Most adults | Type of vitamin: Capsule | Dose per day: 2 capsules | Price: $0.90 per dose

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. 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 overall gummy multivitamin

Third-party certifications: USP-certified | Designed for: Most adults | Type of vitamin: Gummy | Dose per day: 2 gummies | Price: $0.39 per dose

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 vegan gummy multivitamin

Third-party certifications: No USP or NSF certification | Designed for: Most adults | Type of vitamin: Gummy | Dose per day: 2 gummies | Price: $0.57 per dose

Canadian brand Honibe is one of the brands Margeson prefers. “Their gummy multivitamins have no aftertaste, and they have a great amount of B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, and folic acid,” she says. They are also vegan and free of gelatin.

Our experts

Kate Denniston, naturopathic doctor
Maura Henninger, naturopath
Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of health science at Ball State University
Molly Knauer, registered dietitian and Love Wellness adviser
• Jennifer Maeng, registered dietitian and founder of Chelsea Nutrition
Ashley Margeson, naturopath
• Amanda A. Kostro Miller, registered dietitian and member of the Smart Healthy Living advisory board
Nicole German Morgan, registered dietitian and nutritionist
• Aubrey Phelps, registered dietitian and founder of Matrescence Nutrition
• Dani Lebovitz, pediatric registered dietitian and founder of Kid Food Explorers
Malina Malkani, pediatric registered dietitian and nutritionist
• Amy Shapiro, registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition

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The Very Best Multivitamins