Hit your local supplement store or website and you’ll find an incredible number of multivitamin products for sale. How do you choose the right one? It’s not always easy. That’s why we have created an easy list of boxes to check that will determine if a multivitamin is worth your hard-earned money.
1. Recommended Dietary Allowances
First and foremost, your multivitamin should provide adequate levels of essential nutrients. These include vitamins A, C, D, E, and K and the eight B vitamins. Essential minerals are calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, iodine, and molybdenum. (Phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and chloride are also essential but are plentiful in so many foods there is no need to supplement them. Cobalt, also essential, is a component of Vitamin B12.) Recommended Dietary Allowances have been established for each of these nutrients. A good multivitamin will provide a substantial amount of the RDA for each one, albeit sometimes less than 10 percent if that nutrient is easily available from food sources. Some high-quality products that are aimed at select populations such as athletes or women will provide more than 100 percent of the RDA of certain nutrients that are prone to deficiencies or have been shown to promote performance or health in greater amounts.
2. Ingredient Quality
The type of each singular nutrient used in a vitamin formula makes a huge difference in the quality of the product. For instance, there are some forms of calcium that can cost a manufacturer pennies per bottle but are absorbed so poorly by the body that they are practically useless. One sign of a good product is when the manufacturer engages in full transparency and lists the source of each ingredient. For instance, cholecalciferol, better known as Vitamin D3, is vastly superior to Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), but both can be simply listed at “Vitamin D” on a label. Similarly, zinc bisglycinate has been shown to be over 43 percent more bioavailable, the degree at which nutrients are absorbed and utilized in the body, than zinc gluconate.1
With today’s nutrition technology, a multivitamin can (and should) be so much more than an exercise in jamming 13 vitamins and 10 minerals into a few capsules. Multivitamins are often used as a foundation for greater aspirations such as sports performance, physique transformations, or health goals. People who use multivitamins are more likely to eat well, train, hard, and be invested in their total well-being. Forward-thinking formulations will also include specialized nutrient combinations that enhance the systems involved in a health and fitness lifestyle: metabolism, recovery, hormone maintenance, or stress reduction.
4. Third-Party Verification
It seems like every month you hear a new story about a supplement that is busted for not being as potent as their label claims. Besides a robust internal quality control program, a quality multivitamin will also have a separate entity audit their product for potency, safety, and contamination.
5. Return Policy
Nutritional supplements are just like shoes or cell phones or any other consumer product. A 100-percent money-back guarantee is always a welcome thing.