Taking a multivitamin is a great way to get essential nutrients that are hard to get through diet alone. But with so many different choices available, how do you choose the best one? We consulted with Nutritionist Elyssia Schaeffer at our Portland store about how to pick the best one for you.
Consider how it’s made and what ingredients are used.
Whole food multivitamins are more easily absorbed and can be taken on an empty stomach, according to Elyssia. Made from organic fruits and vegetables, MegaFood One Daily is a good all-around complete multivitamin that supports cardiovascular, digestive, cognitive and immune health (look for MegaFood One Daily formulas for men, women and adults over 40, too).
Raw multivitamins are not heated during the manufacturing process, which helps keep probiotics and enzymes intact—thereby supporting a healthy digestive tract and providing essential vitamins, says Elyssia. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw One for Women or Raw One for Men are good for adults of all ages and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Pharmaceutical-grade multivitamins are made with ingredients that mimic the nutrients found in whole food that are biologically active (e.g. readily absorbed by the body). Look for high-quality, high-potency multivitamins without artificial colors, hydrogenated oils or magnesium stearate, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Thorne Research Basic Nutrients III is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E, and is made without preservatives, sweeteners or artificial colors. It’s also gluten, corn, yeast, soy, dairy and egg free so it’s ideal for those with allergies or GI sensitivities, according to Elyssia.
Consider your age and sex.
Women Under 50 should look for multivitamins with extra iron and folic acid, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects during child-bearing years. Garden of Life myKind Women’s Multi meets daily requirements for iron and folic acid and are made from fresh, organic ingredients.
Women Over 50 in pre-menopause or menopause stages of life need little or no iron, but do need extra calcium, magnesium, vitamins D, B6 and B12 (since we don’t absorb these as well as we age). Try MegaFood Women Over 40 One Daily Tablets with age-defying antioxidants and hormone-balancing nutrients, or Rainbow Light Menopause One Multivitamin with superfood nutrients, digestion-helping enzymes and herbal botanicals that help relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and memory loss.
Men Under 50 need to keep their hearts healthy, maintain energy and keep their cancer risk low. Nutrients lycopene, grape seed extract and green tea extract like those found in Pharmaca Men’s Multivitamin meet these needs. For guys on the go, Rainbow Light Men’s Energy Multivitamin Gummy is a complete whole food chewable vitamin with energy-boosting B vitamins and ashwagandha, packaged in easy grab-and-go packets.
Men Over 50 should look for multivitamins that feature nutrients that can lower the risk of prostate cancer (i.e. vitamin D), and also support brain and heart health with vitamins B3, B6, folic acid and magnesium. Lutein and bilberry are also helpful additions to keep eyes healthy, says Elyssia. Integrative Therapeutics Clinical Nutrients 50+ Men is a good choice, since it has 44 nutrients that support healthy aging and vitality.
Kids and Teens who are fussy eaters or eat a vegetarian diet can benefit from a multivitamin, especially whole food chewable ones like Nordic Naturals Nordic Berries Multivitamin or Bluebonnet Super Earth Animalz. Young women in their teens who are still growing should choose multivitamins with nutrients that support their needs, says Elyssia, like Rainbow Active Health Teen—it has vitamin K for bones, B vitamins for energy and a specialized herbal blend that supports healthy skin.