Multivitamins are a $26 billion industry, and it's still growing. With such a lucrative business, many supplement brands do not put in the care and nutrients that people need. Even some of the most popular vitamins, like Flintstones vitamins and Centrum, are not the healthiest for you. So what should you take? Here are the best and worst multivitamins on the market.
WORST: Bayer One-A-Days
Bayer One-a-Days advertise their high amounts of beta-carotene (14% of the vitamin). Beta-carotene is a type of vitamin A that naturally occurs in colorful vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and kale. Although natural beta-carotene can protect against diseases, synthetic beta-carotene might do the opposite.
In 1994, a Finnish study found that synthetic beta-carotene and vitamin E raised peoples' risks of lung cancer and mortality by 8%. Synthetic vitamin A was the same. If you do not want man-made vitamins, look for labels like Vitamin A Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate or Vitamin A Acetate.
BEST: Thorne Research Basic Nutrients Two-A-Day
If you need a stomach-sensitive multivitamin, try Thorne Research Basic Nutrients 2 a Day. Made from natural ingredients, this multivitamin is appropriate for seniors and people with digestive disorders. Registered dietitian Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, the founder of City Kids Nutrition, takes it as a prenatal vitamin.
Because of its many nutrients, Thorne Research Basic Nutrients 2 a Day can also be taken by athletes. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends many supplements for athletes, such as vitamin K, B vitamins, and magnesium--all of which Thorne Research offers.
WORST: PaleoBalance All In One WholeFoods Multi-Vitamin
PaleoBalance All in One Multi-Vitamin is designed to aid people on the paleo diet. Surprisingly, it does not offer some vitamins that people need. For instance, its form of vitamin D is specifically D2. Vitamin D3 is better, since it stays in the body for a lot longer, says the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements.
PaleoBalance's One Multi-Vitamin does not supply vitamin K. People on the paleo diet tend to need vitamin K2 supplements. If they do not get enough, they might develop osteoporosis or teeth decay.
BEST: Garden Of Life Vitamins For Women
Garden of Life is a common brand that you can find at most grocery stores. But unlike other brands, it is non-GMO, Certified Vegan, and Star-K Kosher. It is also a Certified B Corporation, which meets the highest standards for environmental sustainability.
This brand has many varieties that you might benefit from. Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women contains probiotics which aid digestion, according to Business Insider. Registered d etitian Jillian Kubala also recommends Garden of Life Mykind Organics Women 40+, which includes black cohosh. This reduces many symptoms of menopause.
WORST: Centrum Multi-Vitamins
Centrum Multi-Vitamins are one of the most popular in the United States, but they are not perfect. Although they provide vitamin E and beta-carotene, they also contain palm oil, which is made with trans fats. In 2018, research in PLoS One concluded that palm oil contributes to heart disease.
Centrum Multi-Vitamins also have artificial colors such as FD#C Blue #2, Yellow #6, and Red #40. According to Consumer Lab, these are not on the label as they are "Inactive Ingredients." But they can cause allergic reactions in some people.
BEST: Nature Made For Men And Women
For a pure multivitamin, consider Nature Made, which has varieties for both men and women. According to registered dietitian and nutritionist Erin Palinski-Wade, "provides 100% of the RDA of all essential vitamins and minerals, but is also USP verified. This means that the vitamin has been tested for potency and purity."
Physician and medical content expert Leann Poston adds that Nature Made is low-cost (around $11) and available at most standard drugstores. It is much more widely available than some other brands on this list.
WORST: Flintstones Vitamins
Flintstones Vitamins are one of the most popular types of multivitamins for children. Unfortunately, they come with a list of unhealthy ingredients, too. Their sweet flavor stems from fructose, an artificial sugar and main contributor to diabetes and obesity, according to Harvard Health Publications.
These vitamins also have artificial colors. In 2007, a study by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency found that artificial colors cause hyperactivity in children. Along with fructose, Flintstones Vitamins can make children struggle to concentrate.
BEST: Vitamin Code Kids
If you are looking for a good kids' vitamin, check out Vitamin Code Kids. This multivitamin is sourced from natural ingredients, including Brussels sprouts, cucumber, kale, garlic, and blueberries. When minerals are natural, the body absorbs them more easily.
There is some debate over whether children really need multivitamins. If children eat a healthy diet, then they are getting all essential vitamins, say researchers from the U.C. Davis Children's Hospital. But Vitamin Code Kids mimics nutrients that are in food, and they can be a healthy addition to a child's diet.
WORST: One A Day Men's Health Formula By Bayer
Bayer's One A Day Men's Health Formula is advertised to promote prostate health, specifically with its selenium content. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that selenium protects against prostate cancer. In the Journal of Clinical Oncology, two studies showed that selenium supplements did nothing for prostate health.
In fact, selenium supplements might raise the risk of prostate diseases, says senior nutritionist David Schardt. "Not only does selenium not prevent cancer, supplementation with selenium may be harmful," he told ABC News. Do not believe claims that men's vitamins purportedly help the prostate.
BEST: Rainbow Light Men's One Multivitamin
When Fitter Living ranked men's multivitamins, Rainbow Light Men's One was their top choice. It is vegetarian and non-GMO, designed to aid heart health, immunity, and digestion. Plus, many of its nutrients come from whole foods, including kale, ginger, dandelion, and beets.
Rainbow Light Men's One offers probiotics, vitamin D3, zinc, selenium, and plenty of other nutrients. Its whole foods supplement is designed to boost energy, according to Verywell Health. At $30, it is fairly affordable, too.
WORST: Centrum MultiGummies For Adults
Although many people prefer gummy vitamins, they have downsides. Centrum MultiGummies for Adults hardly has any essential nutrients. Out of the 25 vitamins and minerals we need in our diet, MultiGummies for Adults is missing ten of them, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
On top of that, MultiGummies contain artificial sugars. This is not only improves the taste, but it's also the result of a poor manufacturing process, according to ConsumerLab. Extra sugars contribute to obesity and diabetes, and you don't need them in your vitamins.
BEST: Nature Made Multivitamin + Omega-3 Gummies
Although many gummy vitamins are subpar, some actually have benefits. One of these is the Nature Made Multivitamin + Omega-3 Gummies. According to registered dietitian Eliza Savage, this multivitamin has "essential vitamins and minerals to ensure adequate intake of key nutrients in adults."
On top of that, these gummies have a bonus: omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are key building blocks for cells, and many people don't get enough of them, according to Nutrition Journal. Registered dietitian Amanda A. Kostro Miller also recommended these during an interview with The Strategist.
WORST: NatureMade Multi Adult Gummies
Next on the list is another gummy vitamin. NatureMade Multi Adult Gummies suffer from the same shortcomings as other gummy multivitamins. In 2020, a study of gummy vitamins found that 80% do not include the minerals they list on the bottle. NatureMade Gummies lack nine of 25 essential minerals.
Dr. Tod Cooperman, the president of ConsumerLab.com, told TIME that gummy vitamins struggle with consistency. Every bottle of gummies has a different amount of vitamins, and they decay over time. You're better off swallowing a NatureMade tablet.
BEST: MegaFood Multi For Men And Women 55+
MegaFood is an ideal multivitamin brand, especially for seniors. MegaFood Multi for Men 55+ (No Vitamin K) and MegaFood Multi for Women 55+ (No Vitamin K) both have no pesticides, no herbicides, and no GMOs. It does not contain vitamin K, which helps people who take blood thinners.
According to dietitian Eliza Savage with Verywell Fit, MegaFood meets all the standards for purity and quality. Consumers can even log onto their website and watch the vitamin's production 24/7. They are always tested for purity before reaching the shelves.
WORST: Kirkland Adult 50+ Mature Multi
Like many inexpensive multivitamins, Kirkland Adult 50+ Mature Multi has its shortcomings. Dr. Christina Bjorndal of Natural Terrain says that many multivitamins get the wrong dosage of certain nutrients, as this multivitamin does. It contains 222mg of calcium and 50mg of magnesium oxide, but magnesium should always be an equal or higher amount than calcium.
These are also the wrong supplements. According to Bart Wolbers of Nature Builds Health, magnesium oxide only has a 4% absorption rate. Even if take Kirkland Adult 50+ Mature Multi daily, you still won't get enough nutrients.
BEST: Naturelo For Men And Women
The company Naturelo provides multivitamins for both men and women, and they are high quality. According to Spy, Naturelo is a vegetarian formula with no GMOs, artificial colors, or harmful additives. The vitamins are derived from whole foods and plants, such as kelp.
Naturelo also provides the correct doses for nutrients. For instance, it offers the correct 2:1 dosage for magnesium and calcium (300 mg to 125 mg). It also supplies iodine, an often overlooked mineral that supports the thyroid. If your stomach is sensitive to certain vitamins, Naturelo should be gentle enough.
WORST: Nutrilite Double X Multivitamin By Amway
Amway's Nutrilite Double X Multivitamin costs a lot--$87 for a month's supply--but it is not worth it. Although it contains many nutrients, it also has unnecessary additives. The multivitamin has glucose and sucrose, which are added sugars that contributed to chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Nutrilite Double X is also made with soybean oil. During a 2020 animal study, researchers from the University of California, Riverside, determined that soybean oil might lead to a wide variety of diseases.
BEST: Pure Encapsulations' Nutrient 950
During an interview with New York Magazine, naturopath Ashley Margeson called Pure Encapsulations' Nutrient 950 Multivitamin "the best one on the market right now." This multivitamin contains more absorbable vitamins and minerals that are in their bioactive forms.
On the label, vitamin A listed as beta-carotene; iron is citrate sulphate; and folate is L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate. These are all bioactive vitamins that came from natural sources. According to Margeson, if these vitamins are bioactive, then you can be sure that the rest of the multivitamin is well-absorbed.
WORST: Centrum Silver By Pfizer
Centrum Silver is one of Pfizer's best-selling vitamins. Unfortunately, it contains synthetic nutrients that do not have the same benefits as naturally occurring ones. For instance, Centrum has artificial vitamin E. In 2015, a study in Surgical Neurology International found that vitamin E has no anticancer effects; it might even increase the risk.
Centrum Silver is also made with hydrogenated palm oil. Palm oil increases cholesterol more than any other vegetable oil, according to research in The Journal of Nutrition. If you want a good multivitamin, Centrum Silver is not it.
BEST: New Chapter Every Woman's One Daily Multivitamin
New Chapter's Every Woman's One Daily Multivitamin is designed for easy absorption. According to registered dietitian Eliza Savage, this multivitamin is made with organic, non-GMO ingredients. You will not find many synthetic ingredients in this pill.
On top of that, Every Woman's One Daily has the correct nutrients. It provides vitamin D3, the purest form of vitamin D that makes the biggest difference. It is also fermented with probiotics, and the minerals stem from whole goods. This is an ideal option for any woman who wants an organic multivitamin.