People often ask if I take a multivitamin. The answer has been no. Why? I feel like my diet is healthy enough to contain most nutrients, with a few exceptions. There are a few nutrients that are difficult to get from diet alone, so I take extra vitamin D, omega-3, calcium, a probiotic and curcumin. (What about prenatal vitamins? I have a different post on that here.)
Some nutrients are difficult to get from diet alone, like Vitamin D.
However a new study (Baker, Alzheimers Dement 2022)) may change the way I personally feel about multivitamins, at least for older adults. The study of 1,700+ men and women who took Centrum Silver daily for three years showed that it modestly slowed declines in memory of past events (called episodic memory)and made a slight improvement in short term memory. The cognitive improvements were stronger in those with existing cardiovascular disease. In previous studies, researchers found no benefits of multivitamins supplements. Possibly because the participants were too well nourished to benefit from the extra nutrients.
Choosing a Multivitamin? What to Look For
People often ask– Which brand of multi to choose?
Are all multivitamins the same? Definitely not, so don’t buy the first one you see that’s on sale! Here are a few tips:
- Look at the Supplement Facts Label; it should not have more than 150% of the RDA.
- Cost doesn’t guarantee quality. Some of the priciest were just as good as the least expensive.
- Some multivitamins didn’t pass because they contained too much of what was claimed on the label Rainbow Light Prenatal One, Swanson Real Food Multi-Men’s Daily.
- There is some concern about the inactive ingredients in multivitamins–such as BHT, titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycol and FD&C Yellow Number 5 and 6.
Check out the Supplement Facts label on any nutrition supplements. You’ll find the % Daily Value as well as any other added ingredients like preservatives and colors.
How to Pick the Best Quality Multivitamin
One way is to check then label for what’s inside. Next look for the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verification seal. This seal guarantees that the supplements meet stringent standards for quality, such as containing the declared amounts on the label and not containing certain contaminants like heavy metals. You can find links to verified supplements here.
Look for the USP Verification Mark on your dietary supplements.
Next check out ConsumerLab.com. They test nutrition supplements as well as some foods to check for heavy metals, disintegration rate and to make sure they contain the amount of nutrient that’s listed on the label. In their 2020 tests of multivitamins, 44% failed to meet quality standards. While some of their reports are available online, other reports require a subscription. Besides providing reports and lists of the products that meet their testing standards, they also provide a thorough explanation of the supplement, why it’s used and what research backs up its use.
These are Consumer Lab’s top picks for Multivitamins:
- Daily Multi: Kirkland Signature Daily Multi (Costco brand)–just 3 cents a day.
- For Adults 50+: Kirkland Signature Mature Multi, Equate Complete Multivitamin 50+ (Walmart) and Up & Up Adult 50+ Multivitamin (Target).
- For Women: Bayer One a Day Women’s Complete Multivitamin
- Women 50+: Nature Made Multi for Her 50+ (For women over 50 who are premenopausal, Centrum Silver Women 50+ may be a better choice due to its iron content.)
- Vegan Women 50+: Naturelo One Daily Multivitamin for Women 50+
- Prenatal: MegaFood Baby & Me 2 contains the usual vitamins though less iron than the RDA. a Plus is its choline content, which many prenatal vitamins very little of.
- Men’s: There was no top pick because the four tested did not pass.
- Men’s 50+: CVS Health Spectravite Men 50+ Multivitamin. (It does contain BHT.)
- Children’s: Flintstones Complete. Consumer Lab noted that a US government study found that 44% of children’s multivitamins contained too much folic acid and another study found that many exceeded the recommended Upper Level for vitamin A, folic acid, zinc, niacin and copper. I don’t recommend Gummy vitamins for kids because in general they don’t have enough of (or any) iron, zinc and copper.