How to Pick a Good Multivitamin in 4 Steps

September 29, 2020

If you’ve ever tried shopping for a multivitamin, you know that finding a good multivitamin is sometimes easier said than done. After all, not all vitamins are created equal.

But with all the options out there, how do you know what to choose? The shelves are lined with so many different brands that it can be overwhelming. You want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely, right?

The whole point of choosing a good multivitamin is to make sure you’re getting the benefits you’re after—and that all starts with picking a quality product.

So, let’s review what multivitamins are, how they work, and the steps you can take to make sure you’re picking a good multivitamin that will work best for you!


All About Multivitamins

One of the most things to know about multivitamins is that the name is a little misleading: Most multivitamins don’t just contain vitamins but also contain many essential minerals as well.

These key vitamins and minerals are known as micronutrients, and they’re critical for optimal health. In fact, it’s the amount of micronutrients in your food that determine your food’s nutritional value.

Some of the most common micronutrients you may be familiar with include vitamins A, C, D, E, and K along with the B vitamins (there are actually eight different B vitamins!).

Additionally, micronutrients include several minerals that you may see in standard multivitamins. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, potassium, iron, selenium, strontium, boron, and more.

Now, it’s important to note that the best sources of micronutrients are whole foods, simply because that’s how you get them in their naturally occurring environment. Basically, your multivitamin is not intended to replace nutritious foods missing from your diet.

Instead, your multivitamin is intended to supplement an already nutritious diet. Think of it as a way to support your nutrient intake and retention that could otherwise suffer due to lifestyle factors such as psychological or physical stress.

And here’s the problem with the stress we all experience each and every day: It’s known to not only deplete your nutrient supply but also impact your ability to absorb the nutrients in your food.

In fact, according to the World Health Organization, more than 2 billion people worldwide are deficient in essential micronutrients. [1] That’s more than a quarter of the world’s population!

Fortunately, studies have found that taking a multivitamin or multimineral not only lowers your risk of becoming deficient but also may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer and even cardiovascular disease. [2]

So, now that you know how multivitamins work (as a supplement, not as a replacement for nutritional food) and how they can help benefit your health, take a look at the steps you can take to pick a good multivitamin that will work for your unique needs.

How to Pick a Good Multivitamin in 4 Steps

Follow these steps to make sure you’re choosing a good multivitamin that will work for your body and support your health.

Step 1: Make sure it’s easily absorbable.

The first step in choosing a good multivitamin is to make sure it's highly absorbable by your body. This largely comes down to making sure that the minerals in your multivitamin are in their chelated forms.

Basically, chelated minerals are minerals that are bound to an amino acid, which makes the mineral more easily absorbed by your body. And when your body can absorb them easier, it can use those minerals to support critical functions.

For example, according to a 2014 study on zinc, which is a key mineral for immune health, chelated zinc was absorbed approximately 11 percent more effectively in participants’ bodies than non-chelated zinc. [3]

Unfortunately, non-chelated zinc, which is also known as zinc oxide, is the most common form of zinc you’ll see in many “immune-boosting” supplements on the market.

So, when looking for chelated zinc, for example, look for names such as “zinc bisglycinate” and “zinc picolinate.” This will ensure that you’re getting more of the zinc carried into your body, meaning you’ll get more benefits!

And one last note: Easily absorbable ingredients will typically be listed clearly. So, for example, if a multivitamin simply lists “zinc” without classifying the form of zinc, steer clear.

Instead, choose a good multivitamin that clearly lists the ingredients so you can quickly decide if it’s the right fit for you. There should be no guesswork required.


A good multivitamin - Dr. Pingel


Step 2: Avoid “fillers.”

When it comes to choosing a good multivitamin, think of it like you would choosing the healthiest food: avoid fillers.

What are “fillers” in supplements? Anything that is unnecessary to the supplement itself. So, you’ll want to check the ingredients list and avoid multivitamins that list ingredients such as:

  • Artificial colors (such as titanium dioxide)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Maltodextrin
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Talc
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)
  • Heavy metals

So, this means that, when possible, avoid those artificially colored and sweetened gummy vitamins. In fact, let’s look at Step 3 to learn about the optimal form of a good multivitamin!

Step 3: Kick the tablet; embrace the capsule.

When picking a good multivitamin, the form it comes in is absolutely critical—and here’s why: As we discussed, gummy vitamins are typically full of artificial colors and sweeteners that you want to avoid.

Not only that, but in order to make them taste good, they also contain less vitamins and minerals (as they don’t always have a favorable taste). So, you get less bang for your buck with gummies.

And even though tablets typically don’t contain the same additives as gummies, they are formed using heat, which can break down the nutrients in the pill. Also, it’s harder for your body to break down and absorb the remaining nutrients in a tablet (the only caveat being whole-foods based tablets).

So, what’s left? Use a capsule! Not only do they typically have longer a shelf life, but they’re also easier for your stomach to break down and digest—meaning you’ll be able to absorb more nutrients from it. And that’s the whole point of choosing a good multivitamin, right?

Step 4: View the RDA as a minimum.

I know—this step may sound a little odd, right? But stick with me for a minute. When choosing a good multivitamin, try to find one that contains more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of each nutrient.

Here’s why: The RDA isn’t an exact perfect number you should shoot for each day. Instead, it should be viewed as the bare minimum amount of each nutrient your body needs to prevent nutritional deficiency!

Plus, you need to account for any nutritional losses from stress, the occasional poor dietary choice, etc. So, keep this in mind when looking for a good multivitamin: The higher the RDA, the better!


The next time you're out looking for a good multivitamin, follow my four steps above to help you discern how to spend your money and get a quality product you can trust.


Key Takeaways

  • And with more than 2 billion people worldwide deficient in essential micronutrients, choosing a good multivitamin is more important than ever.
  • To pick a good multivitamin, follow these four steps: 1) Make sure it's easily absorbable; 2) Avoid fillers; 3) Choose capsules over tablets; and 4) Get more than the RDA.
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