Considering that more than 80% of all Americans take a vitamin supplement daily, according to a 2019 survey, it's no surprise that there is a huge market out there for multivitamins. Vitamins and minerals are essential for your body to function and develop as it should. Food is your primary source for these vitamins, but sometimes your diet isn't providing you with all the ones you need. That's where multivitamins and supplements come in.
Of all the vitamin sales in the US, multivitamin supplements make up 40%. But you should know that not all multivitamins are created equal. Vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which gives rise to cure-all vitamin trends that might not be worth your money. The best multivitamins include vitamins A through E with minerals and metals like calcium or iron. The exact composition and ingredients of a multivitamin will vary by product.
Nature Made is one of the most well-known vitamin brands out there, namely for the affordability of their supplements. Unlike other options, the Nature Made multivitamin is just one tablet that contains 23 essential nutrients. Including a solid dose of vitamin D, which many people don't get enough of -- especially in the winter.
It also includes vitamins A, C, D3, E, K and various B vitamins. This multivitamin has minerals like calcium, iodine, magnesium and iron. The iron included in the supplement gets you to 100% of your recommended daily dose. A significant excess of iron may cause gastrointestinal troubles in people who get enough iron. Before starting a supplement -- especially one so high in iron -- you should speak with your healthcare provider to ensure you need it.
This multivitamin has a third-party certification through United States Pharmacopeia, one of the best-known and most reputable certification organizations. Nature Made offers a wide line of vitamin supplements for men, women, older adults and kids. Overall, Nature Made might lack the flashy flavors or trendy packaging, but I like it for its reliability and solid nutrient content.
Ritual is a popular direct-to-consumer subscription-based brand that offers multivitamin supplements for every stage of a woman's life. The multivitamins are clinically backed by a 12-week trial funded by Ritual and in partnership with Auburn University. The trial found that vitamin D levels in healthy women increased by 43% and omega 3 levels increased by 41%.
Ritual Essential is the best multivitamin for women. With Ritual Essential multivitamin, you get nine vitamins and minerals that women often lack in their diet -- including vitamin D, E, B12 and iron and folate. It's best for the average woman who eats a balanced diet but needs a little extra help. Ritual doesn't have all the nutrients and vitamins found in other products, but that's OK for the average person. It's not the best pick for someone who needs a more comprehensive multivitamin.
Ritual Essential multivitamins are gel capsules with a patented beadlet in oil design, which allows oily and dry vitamins to coexist in one capsule. It also features a delayed-release design for better absorption and a mint flavor intended to reduce nausea.
Where Ritual shines is its certifications. The manufacturing facilities are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation, which ensures that the products made meet FDA quality standards and Good Manufacturing Practices. It's also third-party tested by Eurofins and IEH laboratories.
One A Day is my pick for the best multivitamin for men. As the name suggests, you just have to take one pill each day to get your vitamin supplement rather than juggling multiple pills. One A Day has lines for men, women and older adults.
It's a complete multivitamin with over 20 key nutrients designed to support your heart health and immune system. It doesn't have the proprietary blends that many other options have. That means it's cheaper, and you know what's in it. There are no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. It's also free of major allergens.
The nutrient content of the One A Day multivitamin gets you close to (a little over for certain nutrients) recommended daily dose. Other vitamin supplements are packed with more vitamins that can get you over 3,000% of your daily recommendation. But it's possible to have too much of a good thing. That's why you should go with One A Day; there are few concerns about how much you're taking.
It also suits the average person's needs. Multivitamins are a good complement to a balanced diet. This might not be the best option if you're particularly deficient in certain vitamins. Bottom line: One A Day multivitamins get straight to the point. You take one pill each day and get exactly how many vitamins and minerals you need. And it's one of the most affordable options on the market.
If you're like me and liked the chalky taste of Flintstone kid's vitamins, you're probably looking for a high-quality gummy vitamin. SmartyPants is the best gummy multivitamin on this list because of its reliability and quality. Each batch is third-party tested to confirm quality, and it's NSF-certified. SmartyPants multivitamins are made in a cGMP-compliant factory.
SmartyPants gummies contain 15 essential nutrients, including vitamin D, B12, E, K and omega 3, to support immunity, energy and bone health. There are no synthetic dyes in SmartyPants gummy multivitamins, and they are made from non-GMO ingredients. It's also free of the top eight allergens -- peanuts, shellfish, fish, milk, egg, tree nut, wheat and synthetic colors. SmartyPants daily gummies are not an option for vegans since they contain gelatin.
Customer reviews suggest they taste great, and though they have fish oils in them, you don't get any taste of that when eating them. There is a significant amount of sugar in the gummies: You'll find added sugar in nearly all gummy vitamins, but SmartyPants is on the higher side of average. The serving size is six gummies and 8 grams of added sugar. That's something to keep in mind when shopping for your multivitamin match.
Garden of Life Mykind takes the spot for the best-certified vegan multivitamin. It's gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher. Garden of Life multivitamins are made with all organic ingredients and contain 16 vitamins and minerals. It's a certified USDA organic supplement and made from only plant-based ingredients -- over 30 powdered organic fruits, herbs and vegetables. You won't find any artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. Garden of Life Multivitamins are also Carbonfree Certified, meaning it's environmentally responsible and carbon neutral.
Garden of Life vegan multivitamins include probiotics and amino acids that aid absorption, as well as vegan D3 and 10 milligrams of iron. You'll get 500% of your daily amount of vitamin B12. The iron content isn't the best out there, which is significant since it's the vitamin that vegetarians and vegans tend to need the most help with. This multivitamin also doesn't include iodine or calcium.
Garden of Life makes non-vegan products, including "raw" and vegetarian products that aren't certified vegan. So if you're shopping specifically for a vegan multivitamin, you should stick with the Mykind line. One drawback of this vitamin is how expensive it is. There's no sugar coating it; it's double the price of some other options on the list.
How we test multivitamins
There are lots of vitamins on the market, so it gets overwhelming when you're searching for the best of the best. To help your search, I've pulled together a curated list of the best multivitamins available based on a few key factors. I haven't tested these products in-house; the selections are based on product research for certifications and vitamin and mineral ingredients.
What is a multivitamin?
A multivitamin is a supplement that contains a mix of different vitamins and minerals that the average person needs. Some include other ingredients such as amino acids, herbs and fatty acids. Instead of juggling multiple pills for each type of vitamin, you just take a multivitamin. The goal of a multivitamin is to act as a safety net behind your diet, filling in any vitamin and mineral gaps you have.
Multivitamins come in different forms, though tablets, capsules and gummies are the most popular. Liquid and powder multivitamins are also available. Generally, you take a multivitamin once or twice a day. Some products have you take more.
Research on multivitamin benefits is divided. Some studies have found that they can help prevent heart disease; others do not support this finding. Taking vitamins has also been linked to lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but some studies counter this.
Research shows that for the average person, the effect multivitamins have is minimal. If you eliminate full food groups or have certain medical conditions, you should consider a multivitamin to supplement your diet.
Benefits of multivitamins
- Multivitamins are designed to lower your risk for vitamin deficiencies.
- If you are pregnant, multivitamins help bridge the gap of the increased nutrient need.
- Digestive troubles such as Crohn's Disease and other medical conditions can compromise your ability to absorb nutrients. Multivitamins can help.
Things to consider before taking a multivitamin
- Some multivitamins may include things that have the potential to interact with medications. It's good to check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.
- If you're not deficient in certain vitamins, a multivitamin has the potential to give you more than you need. Vitamin E and calcium supplements can negatively affect the body if taken in high doses.
How to choose the best multivitamin
Since the FDA doesn't regulate multivitamins, fewer requirements are available. When I chose the multivitamins to make up this list, I looked for third-party certifications that prove the product contains what it says it does.
Vitamin certifications to be aware of
- National Science Foundation's Good Manufacturing Practices: Vitamins that have the NSF-GMP certification mean that the company voluntarily went through additional audit processes to prove the quality of their products.
- Good Manufacturing Practice: The cGMP ensures the facility that produces the multivitamins adheres to the quality standards set by the FDA.
- United States Pharmacopeia: The USP is a nonprofit organization that creates standards for the quality and purity of dietary supplements.
- Informed-Sport Certification: Particularly important for athletes, this certification ensures the product doesn't contain any prohibited substances.
- National Sanitation Foundation: This means the facilities in which the product is made meet FDA quality standards.
Do you need to take a multivitamin?
The average person doesn't need to take a multivitamin as long as they eat a balanced diet. However, diagnosed deficiencies do require vitamin supplements. Multivitamins can be particularly beneficial for certain life stages where you need extra vitamins, like pregnancy or when your body naturally stops absorbing nutrients from food as you age. Vitamin supplements serve a purpose; they just aren't necessary for everyone.
Most multivitamins don't pose a risk. However, the lack of regulations means there may be ingredients in the vitamin that aren't listed, which may lead to drug interactions. If you're on prescription medication and are unsure if you should take a multivitamin, you should talk to your doctor about your nutritional needs. For instance, vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.