- 1 What is a Multivitamin?
- 2 Who Should Take Multivitamins?
- 3 How Much Should I Take?
- 4 Top 10 Best Multivitamin Supplements
- 5 When is the Best Time to Take a Multivitamin?
- 6 Types of Multivitamin
- 7 Multivitamin Tablets vs. Powder
- 8 Multivitamin Brands We Review
- 9 Health Benefits of Multivitamins
- 10 Side Effects of Multivitamins
Finding the best multivitamin isn’t easy. But they’re often considered essential for a healthy metabolism, muscle building, athletic performance, sleep quality, and much more. The best part is, multivitamins are completely safe to use, and can be tailor made for the specific requirements of adults, seniors, and children.
But with so many vitamins and minerals in the ingredients, how can you be sure of buying the best supplement? What dose do you need of each vitamin and which are the top brands to look out for?
To help find the right multivitamin for your needs, it’s worth knowing what you want support with. Some are better for boosting energy, while others support weight loss and joint health.
Even if you know what you’re looking for, with over 100 brands and hundreds of individual multivitamin supplements now available, the research can seem daunting and time consuming.
That’s why we put together this guide. It’s designed to cut through the junk and misinformation that’s so common in marketing and get straight to the supplements that make a difference.
We analyzed the ingredients from more than 50 multivitamin supplements, then created a top 10 list of the best on the market. This includes individual multivitamin reviews for multivitamins that are best for each age group and health goal.
What is a Multivitamin?
A multivitamin is a popular form of dietary supplement, which usually contains a combination of vitamins and dietary minerals.
A wide variety of multivitamin supplements are now available, with some specifically designed to improve the health of men, women, and children.
Multivitamins are available in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, liquids, and gummies. They’re typically used to fill the gaps in your vitamin and mineral intake from diet, and shouldn’t be a replacement to whole foods.
Who Should Take Multivitamins?
Most nutritionists will recommend obtaining your essential nutrients from a balanced and varied diet. However, it’s not always easy to consume the necessary variety of food on a day-to-day basis, and over time deficiencies can develop. This is when a multivitamin can help.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control suggests more than half of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, with multivitamins the most common (39% of men and women take a multivitamin daily). Strict diet, poor appetite, changing nutritional needs, unhealthy food choices mean most Americans fail to meet daily nutritional recommendations.
How Much Should I Take?
The label on multivitamin supplements shows how much of each vitamin you’re getting per serving. This is usually shown alongside the percentage of your dietary reference intake.
Dietary reference intakes are mainly used to assess diets, and shouldn’t be considered the best amount to enjoy optimal health. So, what are the daily recommendations for vitamin and mineral intake, and is there a limit on safe intake levels?
The US Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has defined Dietary Reference Intakes for 29 vitamins and minerals. These are as follows:
- Vitamin A: 500–900 µg/d
- Vitamin C: 75–90 mg/d
- Vitamin D: 15–20 µg/d
- Vitamin E: 12 mg/d
- Vitamin K: 90–120 µg/d
- Thiamin: 1.1–1.2 mg/d
- Riboflavin: 1.1–1.3 mg/d
- Niacin: 14–16 mg/d
- Vitamin B 6: 1.3–1.7 mg/d
- Folate: 320-520 µg/d
- Vitamin B 12: 2.4 µg/d
- Pantothenic acid: 5 mg/d
- Biotin: 30 µg/d
- Choline: 425–550 mg/d
- Calcium: 1,000–1,200 mg/d
- Chromium: 20–35 µg/d
- Copper: 900 µg/d
- Iodine: 150 µg/d
- Iron: 8–18 mg/d
- Magnesium: 310–420 mg/d
- Manganese: 1.8–2.3 mg/d
- Molybdenum: 45 µg/d
- Phosphorus: 700 mg/d
- Selenium: 55 µg/d
- Zinc: 8–11 mg/d
- Potassium: 4.7 g/d
- Sodium: 1.2–1.5 g/d
- Chloride: 1.8–2.3 g/d
Linus Pauling Institute’s Micronutrient Information Center suggests a multivitamin and mineral supplement with 100% of Daily Value to maintain good health.
Top 10 Best Multivitamin Supplements
Choosing the best multivitamin for your health isn’t easy. A quick browse online or walk down the supplement aisle reveals dozens of different products, each with their own unique combination of ingredients.
That’s why we analyzed more than 50 top multivitamin supplements to create a shortlist of what we believe to be the best on the market.
We’ve also taken a closer look at specific categories, such as the best multivitamin for men, women, and kids. This is based on many factors, including brand reputation, value for money, delivery method, and the percentages of key nutrients.
In-depth reviews are also available, where we examine the health benefits of the ingredients, and compare with other bestselling multivitamin supplements.
Rainbow Light Men’s One/Women’s One
Rainbow Light have specialized in creating high quality, food-based multivitamins for men, women, and children since 1981. Today, they’re one of the global market leaders, with Men’s One and Women’s One being two of their best sellers.
- Promotes heart, prostate & sexual health
- Boosts energy and stamina levels
- Gluten-free, soy-free
- Men’s Strengthening Blend: Saw Palmetto 2:1 Extract, Organic Spirulina, Lycopene
- Promotes bone, breast, heart & skin health
- Provides energy & stress support
- Gluten-free, soy-free
- Women’s Nourishing Blend: Dong Quai 4:1 Extract, Organic Spirulina, Red Clover 2:1 Extract
- Vegetable Juice Complex: Kale, spinach, dandelion greens, beet
- Complete Digestive Support: Protease, amylase, lipase, cellulase, betaine HCI (10 mg)
- ProbioActive (Bacillus coagulans) 25 Million CFU
Each version contains over 20 different vitamins and minerals, as a comprehensive one-a-day multivitamin to promote heart health and boost energy levels.
The levels of most ingredients are lower than something like the Vitality multivitamin, from Dr. Tobias. But in most cases, you’re still getting 100% or more of your recommended daily value.
So what’s the difference between Men’s and Women’s?
They’re both very similar. All the vitamin levels are the same, including B-vitamins, vitamin D (800 IU, 200% DV) and vitamin C (120 mg, 200% DV). There’s only a few differences in the mineral levels, tailored to deliver specific health benefits to men and women.
- Women’s: 150 mg more calcium, 75 mg more magnesium, 6 mg iron (missing from Men’s)
- Men’s: 10 mg more zinc, 1 mg more copper, 1 mg boron (missing from Women’s)
Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men/Opti-Women
Optimum Nutrition are one of the biggest names in sports nutrition, producing everything from protein powders to health and wellness supplements. The Opti-Men and Opti-Women multivitamins are two of their best sellers, with thousands of highly rated reviews on Amazon and bodybuilding.com.
- Nutrient Optimizing System, with 75+ active ingredients
- 350+ milligrams B-complex vitamins
- 25 vitamins and minerals
- Amino Men Blend (1 g): L-arginine, L-glutamine, L-valine, L-leucine, L-isoleucine, L-cystine, L-lysine, L-threonine.
- Phyto Men Blend (100 mg). Includes Green tea powder and hesperidin complex, in addition to a fruit and vegetable blend.
- Viri Men Blend: Includes saw palmetto extract, damiana extract, panax ginseng extract, and ginkgo biloba extract.
- Enzyme Blend (50 mg): Papain, bromelain, alpha amylase, lipase
- 23 vitamins and essential minerals
- 600 milligrams folic acid
- 17 speciality ingredients
- Made with Vegetarian Society Approved Vcaps
- Includes a complete blend of ingredients not found in Opti-Men, such as Dong Quai, Chasteberry, Uva Ursi, Lycopene, and Ostivone.
So what’s the difference between Opti-Men and Opti-Women?
The formulas for Rainbow Light Men’s One and Women’s One multivitamins are nearly identical, but that’s not the case with Opti-Men and Opti-Women. You’re looking at two completely different formulas.
We’ve highlighted a few notable differences below, but we struggled to find a single ingredient where the dose was the same for both supplements.
- Opti-Men: 5,000 IU more vitamin C (double the dose), 50 mg more vitamin C, 900 IU more vitamin D, 100 IU more vitamin E (double the dose)
- Opti-Women: 100 mg more calcium, 18 mg iron (not found in Opti-Men)
Dr. Tobias Vitality
Dr. Tobias Vitality contains a complete multivitamin and mineral complex, in addition to a blend of 42 natural fruits and vegetables per serving. Also contains 20 million CFU of the L. acidophilus probiotic.
- 42 Fruit and vegetable proprietary blend (315 mg)
- 20 Million CFU L. acidophilus
- 75 mg Enzyme complex
- Made with whole foods to enhance bioavailability
- Multi-system support for heart health, bones, immune & digestive systems, nervous & hormone systems
- Packed with vitamins C, B6, B12 to relieve stress
- 90 tablets per bottle (30-day supply)
- Made in the USA, following cGMP standards
The top 3 ingredients by Daily Value are; 50 mg Vitamin B1 (3,333% DV), 50 mg vitamin B2 (2,941% DV), and 50 mg vitamin B6 (2,500% DV). That’s a big increase over something like Centrum Adult, which contains just 1.5 mg of vitamin B1, 1.7 mg of vitamin B2, and 2 mg of vitamin B6 (100% DV for each).
A strong focus on B-vitamins combines with a high dose of vitamin C (500 mg, 833% DV) to boost stress relief and natural energy.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Men/Women
Garden of Life has a strong focus on using truly clean ingredients in their supplements. This means a long list of certifications, including USDA Organic, non-GMO Verified, and being Certified Vegan.
They’re also one of the most sustainable and environmentally responsible supplement companies in the world, with 100% recyclable packaging. This is in addition to a full-time Quality Control Department, cGMP facilities, and third part independent tests to ensure the ingredients used are safe and accurate to what’s on the label.
Vitamin Code Men and Vitamin Code Women are two of their most popular multivitamin supplements. They also offer a wide range of variations, including Vitamin Code Perfect Weight (weight management) and Vitamin Code 50 & Wiser (formula specifically designed to benefit over 50’s).
- Raw whole food multivitamin
- Delivered in capsules without any binders or fillers
- Designed to support heart and prostate health, mental and physical energy, and healthy digestion
- Comprehensive RAW whole food multi-nutrient formula
- Designed to support breast health, heart health, reproductive system health, and healthy digestion
- Vegetarian capsules
- 23 powdered fruits and vegetables
- Gluten free, Non-GMO verified
- RAW Organic Fruit and Vegetable Blend (560 mg for Men, 400 mg for Women)
- RAW Probiotic and Enzyme Blend (110 mg) – Includes 500 Million CFU of L. bulgaricus and L. plantarum
- RAW Antioxidant and Immune Support Complex (20 mg)
- 425 mcg of CoQ10
So what’s the difference between the Men and Women supplements?
The two Garden of Life supplement formulas are very similar, with only a handful of differences. As you would expect, Vitamin Code Women is the only one of the two to contain iron, but also contains more than twice as much vitamin D as the Men version.
Listed below are the most notable differences:
- Vitamin Code Men: 5 mg more zinc, 160 mg more of the Organic Fruit and Vegetable Blend
- Vitamin Code Women: 600 IU more vitamin D, 20 mcg more vitamin K, 400 mcg more folate, 3 mg more calcium, 8 mg iron (not found in Vitamin Code Men)
Centrum Adults Multivitamin
Each tablet of Centrum Adults supplies you with at least 100% of your Daily Value for 13 key vitamins and minerals. This includes vitamin C (60mg, 100% DV), vitamin D (1,000 IU, 250% DV), and vitamin E (30 IU, 100% DV). As with Kirkland’s Mature Multi vitamin, the two main exceptions are vitamin A (3,500 IU, 70% DV) and vitamin K (25 mcg, 31% DV).
- Includes vitamins D and B6 to support muscle function
- Vitamins A, C, E, and biotin help to maintain a healthy appearance
- Backed by over 35 years of nutritional science
- Verified non-GMO and gluten free
- Gender specific Centrum multivitamins also available (Centrum Men, Centrum Women)
- Age specific Centrum multivitamins also available (Centrum Silver, Centrum Kids)
However, doses of each ingredient are generally lower than what we’re used to seeing in a multivitamin.
For example, 2 mg of vitamin B6 is the lowest we’ve seen in the multivitamins we’ve reviewed, and well below the 50 mg packed into Dr. Tobias Vitality. But it’s still higher than the 1.7 mg per day set out by the Institute of Medicine, and there’s really no need to consume 2,500% of your daily value.
Overall, Centrum Adults is one of the best multivitamins on the market for anyone wanting to boost their vitamin and mineral intake to 100% of their daily value.
Vitafusion MultiVites Gummy
Most of the multivitamin and mineral supplements featured in our guide provide you with at least 100% of your daily value (DV) for key vitamins, such as vitamin A and C. However, the suggested use from VitaFusion MultiVites will only give you around 50% of your DV for vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, with just 5% of your biotin DV.
- A great-tasting and convenient alternative to pills
- Antioxidant vitamins C and E
- An excellent source of vitamins B12, B6, Folic Acid and Pantothenic Acid
- As much vitamin A as one cup of broccoli
- As much vitamin C as one tangerine
- As much vitamin D as 5 oz. of Salmon
- Natural Berry, Peach & Orange flavors
- Gluten free
The 3 g of sugar per serving is also higher than any multivitamin from Centrum, Optimum Nutrition, or Dr. Tobias. While it may not seem like much, the American Heart Association has published recommendations for daily sugar intake, with no more than 25 g for women, and 37 g for men. If you’re struggling to stay below this level, it might be worth considering a different supplement.
Kirkland Signature Mature Multi
Mature Multi is the next step up from Vitafusion MultiVites, in terms of vitamin and mineral content. Each tablet supplies you with over 100% of the DV for each key vitamin, except for vitamin A (2500 IU, 50% DV) and vitamin K (30 mcg, 38% DV).
- Supports a healthy heart, eyes, and immune system
- Designed to support the health of adults over 50
- USP Verified (accurate label ingredients, well-controlled manufacturing)
- No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
- Gluten free
At the time of writing this guide, Mature Multi was one of the most affordable multivitamins on the market, at around $0.04 per day. It’s difficult to compare the price of multivitamins, as each formula is different. But as a benchmark, Rainbow Light Men’s One was priced at $0.34 per serving, and Vitafusion MultiVites Gummies at $0.13 per serving.
Dr. Tobias Vitality was the most expensive multivitamin we reviewed, priced at $0.76 per serving. However, it also includes much higher levels of vitamins and minerals than Kirkland Mature Multi, second only to Nature’s Way Alive Max Daily.
One-A-Day Men’s/Women’s Multivitamin
One-A-Day uses a very similar formula to Kirkland Mature Multi. The main differences are an extra 1000 IU of vitamin A, 200 IU of vitamin D, and 100 mcg less folic acid per serving.
At the time of writing this guide, the price was also very similar, especially if you bought the 200-count bottle of One-A-Day multivitamins (One-A-Day worked out more expensive with the smaller bottles).
- Supports healthy blood pressure with vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D
- Boost heart health with vitamins B6, B12, C, E and folic acid
- Formulated to support bone, heart, skin and immune health
- Designed to boost physical energy naturally
- Helps support immunity with vitamins A, C,E and selenium
- Supports skin health with vitamins A, C, E, and Copper
One-A-Day is also available in a 50+ Healthy Advantage formula, with 200% DV of Vitamin C to support collagen formation for healthy joints.
If you’re looking to boost your intake of key vitamins even further, without going to the levels seen in Nature’s Way Alive Max Daily, we recommend Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men or Opti-Women. The level of vitamin A increases by 6500 IU, with a 400% increase in vitamin C (300 mg) 800 IU increase in vitamin D, and a 900% increase in biotin (300 mcg).
Nature’s Way Alive! Max Daily
Whereas the Centrum Adults multivitamin tries to stay true to 100% of your DV, Alive Max goes above and beyond, with up to 3,333% of your daily value (vitamin B12, 200 mcg). This unique formula contains 6 vitamins and minerals in doses higher than 1,000% of your DV, with calcium (24%) and magnesium (31%) two of the only ingredients with less than 100%.
- Contains 6 unique food-based blends
- Contains high doses of B-vitamins for maximum energy
- Vitamin B1 1,667% DV, vitamin B6 2,500% DV, vitamin B12 3,333% DV
- Designed to support healthy bones, cells, heart, digestion, and immunity
- Gluten free, with no soy, wheat, or preservatives
- Available in 30, 60, 90, and 180-count bottles
- Also available as organic water (Alive! Energy Max), with herbal caffeine for added energy
In addition to the standard multivitamins and minerals, Alive Max also contains six unique blends, and 60 mg of a Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex. This brings the total number of ingredients to over 100, most of which are from fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, oranges, and strawberries, as part of their Orchard Fruits / Garden Veggies Blend.
Nature Made Multi Complete
Each tablet features a similar vitamin profile to Centrum Adults, with added vitamin K to ensure you get 100% of your daily value. The only major vitamin you don’t get 100% of your DV from is vitamin A (2,500 IU, 50% DV), which is 1,000 IU less than the supplement from Centrum.
The vitamin C, E, and K levels are much higher in Multi Complete, and at the time of writing this guide, the price difference was negligible ($0.06 per tablet Centrum, $0.07 per tablet Nature Made).
- 23 Key nutrients for daily nutritional support
- 100% of your DV for vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin B12, and more
- Gluten free, with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Contains gelatin, making them unsuitable for vegetarians
- Available in 130-count and 250-count bottles
- USP Verified
The only downside is that Multi Complete contains gelatin, which is fairly unusual for a tablet. If you’re looking for a high quality vegetarian multivitamin, we can recommend the Garden of Life range (Vitamin Code Men or Vitamin Code Women). Their multivitamins have been certified vegan and use vegetarian capsules.
When is the Best Time to Take a Multivitamin?
This tends to vary depending on the multivitamin you’re taking. Some recommend taking them with food, while others recommend taking them on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before a meal.
Some medical professionals believe multivitamins should be treated separately to specific vitamin supplements. For example, a multivitamin or multimineral formula should be taken before meals, while fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K should be taken with a meal. Preferably the meal will contain saturated fats or oils to help boost absorption of the vitamins.
Generally speaking, multivitamins, B vitamins, and prenatal vitamins are taken in the morning.
Although multivitamin supplements are very safe, some may interact with prescription medication. If you have any concerns about starting a new supplement routine, it’s worth checking with a pharmacist.
Types of Multivitamin
Top 10 vitamin C food sources (% DV): Oranges (over 100% per 1 large), red peppers (over 100% per 1/2 cup), kale (134% per cup), brussels sprouts (80% per 1/2 cup), broccoli (107% per 1/2 cup), strawberries (70% per 1/2 cup), grapefruit, guava.
Health benefits: Boosts the immune system, reduces side effects of cancer treatments, helps protect against cardiovascular disease, reduces the likelihood of a stroke.
Safe upper limit: 2,000 milligrams per day
Can vitamin C prevent the common cold?
The short answer is, no. A few clinical studies have tested vitamin C in high doses (up to and over 1 gram per day) for a prolonged period, without preventing the development of colds.
However, following an analysis of thirty trials, larger doses of vitamin C were found to provide a greater benefit at reducing the duration of existing cold symptoms.
What is the optimum daily vitamin C intake?
Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan, analyzed over 100 studies looking at 10 years of vitamin C research. He concluded that 500 milligrams per day, in addition to five servings of fruit and vegetables was sufficient to achieve positive health
Signs of a vitamin C deficiency:
Dry skin, splitting hair, bleeding gums, poor healing of wounds, lower immunity to infection, gingivitis.
Signs of a vitamin C overdose:
Mega dosing with over 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day may cause nausea, heartburn, headaches, insomnia, abdominal bloating, and diarrhea. These symptoms should subside by lowering your daily intake below this level.
Bestselling vitamin C supplements
- Viva Naturals Premium Non-GMO Vitamin C 1,000 mg:
1,000 mg vitamin C (1667% DV) from ascorbic acid per serving (1 vegetarian capsule). Capsules use Hypromellose instead of glycerin to ensure they’re vegetarian. Also contains 25 mg of rose hips from fruit powder, and 25 mg of citrus bioflavonoids from fruit peel. 250-count bottles.
- NOW Vitamin C-1000:
1,000 mg vitamin C (1667% DV) from ascorbic acid per serving (1 tablet). Tablets use magnesium stearate from a vegetable source, with a vegetable coating. This makes them suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Also contains 25 mg of rose hips powder from rosae pseudofructus. Available in 250-count bottles.
- Emergen-C 1,000 mg Vitamin C Drink:
1,000 mg vitamin C (1667% DV) from ascorbic acid and zinc ascorbate per serving (1 packet). Also contains 7 B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, and 500% of your DV for vitamin B6, as well as electrolytes and antioxidants. Available in 4 sizes; 1, 10, 30, or 90 packs, and a choice of 11 flavors, ranging from Super Orange through to Coconut-Pineapple.
Top 10 vitamin E food sources (% DV): Almonds (27% per 1 oz.), Spinach (26% per bunch), sweet potato (15% per tbsp), avocado (10%), wheat germ (17% per ounce), sunflower seeds (15% per 2 tbsp), palm oil (11% per tbsp), butternut squash.
Health benefits: Boosts immunity and supports healthy skin and eyes. Some evidence to suggest vitamin E helps balance cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of developing some forms of dementia, though more research is needed.
Signs of a vitamin E deficiency:
Neuromuscular problems, neurological problems (loss of vibration and position senses), anemia, loss of weight and delayed growth in infants.
Signs of a vitamin E overdose:
Fatigue, easy bruising and bleeding, headaches, abdominal cramps, nausea, and muscle weakness are all signs of acute vitamin E toxicity.
Bestselling vitamin E supplements
- Kirkland Signature Vitamin E 400 IU Softgels:
400 IU vitamin E (1333% DV) per serving (1 softgel). Softgels contain gelatin, making them unsuitable for vegetarians. USP tested and verified ingredients and potency. Contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Available in 500-count bottles.
- Solgar Vitamin E 400 IU Softgels:
400 IU vitamin E (1333% DV) per serving (1 softgel). Softgels contain safflower oil and gelatin. Free from gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, and artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Available in 50-count and 250-count bottles.
- Nature Made Vitamin E 400 IU:
400 IU vitamin E (1333%) per serving (1 softgel). Softgels contain gelatin. USP tested and verified ingredients and potency. Gluten free, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Available in 100-count bottles.
Other Essential Vitamins:
Top 10 vitamin A food sources (% DV): Beef liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, broccoli, butter, eggs
Health benefits: A crucial nutrient for bone growth and immune system health. Essential for the development of healthy vision, particularly among young, malnourished children.
Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children, with an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 becoming blind each year.
In addition to blindness, children with a deficiency of vitamin A have an increased risk of developing severe illnesses from common childhood diseases, such as measles.
Fortunately, vitamin A is one of the most heavily studied nutrients for its ability to boost immune function. Vitamin A supplementation also has a positive effective on the health of pregnant women.
The Journal of Nutrition published a study where the rate of illness was measured among 15,832 Nepali women.
During the first 28 weeks, the results showed no significant difference compared to placebo, but after this time vitamin A was shown to reduce symptoms of nausea, faintness, and night blindness. Women receiving vitamin A also shortened the length of labor by an average of 70 minutes.
Most studies recommend a daily vitamin A intake of 2,666 to 5,000 IU, to minimize the risk of vitamin A deficiency and associated immunodeficiency. There is no clinical proof that a daily intake over 10,000 IU provides any additional health benefits.
Signs of a vitamin A deficiency:
Night blindness, conjunctival xerosis, Bitot’s spots: growths on the conjunctivae causing hazy vision, Xerophthalmia: dry conjunctiva and cornea
Signs of a vitamin A overdose:
Swelling of the bones, poor appetite, nausea, sensitivity to sunlight, blurry vision, dry, rough skin, fatigue. Also known as hypervitaminosis A.
Bestselling vitamin A supplements
- NOW Vitamin A:
25,000 IU (500% DV) from fish liver oil per serving (1 softgel). Capsules contain gelatin and soybean oil, with cod, saithe, haddock, and pollock used for the fish oil. Available in 100-count and 250-count bottles.
- Nature Made Vitamin A 8,000 IU:
8,000 IU (160% DV) as Retinyl Palmitate per serving (1 softgel). Capsules contain gelatin and soybean oil, with sardine used for the fish liver oil. Gluten free, with no artificial flavors or colors. Available in 100-count bottles.
- Nature’s Way Vitamin A 10,000 IU:
10,000 IU (200% DV) from fish liver oil per serving (1 softgel). Capsules contain gelatin and soybean oil, with Atlantic cod used for the fish oil. Gluten and dairy free, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Available in 100-count bottles.
Top 10 vitamin B6 food sources (% DV): Wild caught tuna (44%), banana (21%), salmon (35% per 3 oz.), grass-fed beef (30% per 3 oz.), chicken breast (23% per 3 oz.), spinach (22% per cup), sweet potato (15% per half cup), hazelnuts
Health benefits: Improves symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, reduces likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Several clinical studies point to a vitamin B6 deficiency playing a significant role in developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
In one study, a patient with CTS had a significant deficiency of vitamin B6. The patient was then treated with 2 mg/day of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), for 11 weeks, then 100 mg/day for 11 weeks.
After the 11 weeks, no deficiency was observed, and symptoms of CTS had improved. A placebo was then taken for a further 7 weeks, during which time the deficiency and clinical symptoms returned.
Holm and Moody also published a recommendation to consume 200 mg/day of vitamin B6, as part of a wider treatment program for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Depression and dementia
There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin B6 can reduce the likelihood of age-associated cognitive impairment, dementia, and depression. However, this has not been proven in any independent clinical study.
In fact, a meta-analysis of controlled trials found just two studies where supplementing with vitamin B6 was tested against placebo in healthy older people. Researchers concluded that there was no significant difference between treatment and placebo in terms of mood or cognition.
Signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency:
Low energy or fatigue, muscle pains, confusion, irritability, anxiety, depression, increased susceptability to infections, anemia, skin rashes (dermatitis).
Signs of a vitamin B6 overdose:
Abnormal heart rythms, allergic reactions, change in folic acid levels, headaches, heartburn, loss of appetite, nausea, and a tingling feeling on the skin are all signs of vitamin B6 toxicity.
Bestselling vitamin B6 supplements
- NOW Vitamin B-6:
100 mg vitamin B6 (5,000% DV) as pyridoxine HCI per serving (1 capsule). Supports healthy homocysteine levels and nervous system function. GMP certified, with no gluten, soy, wheat, milk, or preservatives. Made in the USA, and available in 100-count or 250-count bottles.
- Solgar Vitamin B6:
25 mg vitamin B6 (1,250% DV) as pyridoxine HCI per serving (1 tablet). Free from gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and wheat. Suitable for vegetarians, with K-1250 kosher certification. Available in 100-count bottles.
- Nature’s Bounty Vitamin B-6:
100 mg vitamin B-6 (5,000% DV) as pyridoxine hydrochloride per serving (1 tablet). Suitable for vegetarians. Non-GMO, with no soy, milk, gluten, wheat, or sugar. Made in the USA, and available in 100-count bottles.
Top 10 vitamin B12 food sources: Fish, meat, eggs, milk, meat, poultry, shellfish, liver, crab, fortified cereals. Primarily foods derived from animals, which can lead to an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency in vegetarians and vegans.
Health benefits: Converts carbohydrates to glucose to boost energy and decrease fatigue. Also helps regulate a healthy nervous system and digestive system. Reduces stress, promotes healthy skin and nails, and plays a role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system (reduce risk factors for heart disease).
Signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency:
Feeling week or lightheaded, heart palpitations, pale skin, loss of appetite and weight loss, breathlessness, mouth ulcers, depression, cognitive decline.
Signs of a vitamin B12 overdose:
Nausea, difficulty swallowing, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling,
Bestselling vitamin B12 supplements
- Natrol Vitamin B12 5,000 mcg Fast Dissolve Tablets:
5,000 mcg vitamin B-12 (83,333% DV) as cyanocobalamin per serving (1 fast dissolve tablet). Contains no fish, peanuts, soybeans, or milk. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. 100% vegetarian. Strawberry flavor, available in 100-count bottles.
- Solgar Vitamin B12 1,000 mcg:
1,000 mcg vitamin B12 (16,667%) as cyanocobalamin per serving (1 nugget). Non-GMO and free from gluten, wheat, dairy, and soy. Suitable for vegans, with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Available in 100-count or 250-count bottles.
- Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (Methyl B12):
5,000 mcg Methyl B12 (83,330% DV) as methylcobalamin per serving (1 lozenge). Contains no wheat, gluten, soybeans, dairy, or fish. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Available in 3 flavors; Cherry, Lemon, and Tropical, with a choice of 60-count or 100-count bottles.
Top 10 vitamin D food sources: Egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, tuna, mackerel, salmon. Some foods have also been fortified with vitamin D, such as some orange juices, soy milks, and cereals. Vitamin D is also made naturally by your body when your skin is exposed to sunshine.
Health benefits: Important for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, as well as regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Some studies have also found vitamin D to increase resistance to certain diseases, such as diabetes and respiratory infection.
One meta-analysis, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found a link between intake of vitamin D supplements and a decrease in mortality rates.
Researchers selected 18 randomized controlled trials, with a total of 57,311 participants. The average daily dose of vitamin D supplements varied from 300 to 2000 IU.
Signs of a vitamin D deficiency:
Depression, fatigue and tiredness, impaired wound healing, lower immunity to infection and sickness, muscle pain, bone pain.
Signs of a vitamin D overdose:
Buildup of calcium in the blood, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, elevated blood levels, kidney failure.
Bestselling vitamin D supplements
- NatureWise Vitamin D3 5,000 IU:
5,000 IU vitamin D3 (1,250%) as cholecalciferol per serving (1 softgel). Contains no wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, fish, or peanuts. Non-GMO, GMP Certified and made in the USA. Verified for purity and potency by specialized ISO 17025 third party laboratories. Available in 360-count bottles.
- Sports Research Vitamin D3 5000 IU with Coconut Oil:
5,000 IU vitamin D3 (1,250% DV) as cholecalciferol from Lanolin per serving (1 liquid softgel). Also contains coconut oil, with kosher gelatin and kosher vegetable glycerin making up the softgel. Contains no gluten, dairy, egg, fish, soy, wheat, or peanut. Does contain tree nuts (coconut). Non-GMO. Available in 360-count bottles, with either 1000 IU, 2000 IU, or 5000 IU per serving.
- Viva Naturals Vitamin D3 5,000 IU:
5,000 IU vitamin D3 (1,250% DV) as cholecalciferol per serving (1 softgel). Also contains organic virgin coconut oil, with gelatin and glycerin used to create the softgel. Made in the USA, in GMP-compliant facilities. Available in 360-count bottles (1 year supply).
Top 10 vitamin K food sources (% DV per cup): Vitamin K1 from leafy green vegetables, such as green leaf lettuce (%), kale (%), parsley (%), romaine lettuce (%), spinach (%), as well as brussels sprouts (%), cauliflower (%), and broccoli (%).
Health benefits: Plays an important role in blood clotting, building strong bones, preventing heart disease,
A recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, examined the correlation between vitamin K intake and bone mineral density. Data was analyzed from 2,785 men and 4,307 women, all over 19 years of age.
The results identified a link between low dietary vitamin K intake and low bone mineral density. Researchers also tested to see if the risk of osteoporosis decreased, but there was no evidence to say this was the case.
Signs of a vitamin K deficiency:
Gum bleeding, easy bruising, defective blood coagulation, prolonged blood clotting times, and small blood clots under the nails. A deficiency is more common in infants, where the condition is called VKDB (vitamin K deficiency bleeding).
Signs of a vitamin K overdose:
Too much vitamin K1 may lower blood sugar levels. High doses may also increase the risk of blood clotting problems in people with severe liver disease, and interfere with certain blood-thinners, such as warfarin. Nausea, vomiting, and skin rash can also be symptoms of a vitamin K overdose.
Bestselling vitamin K supplements
- Sports Research Vitamin K2 (MK7):
100 mcg vitamin K2 (125% DV) as MK-7 from chickpea per serving (1 vegetarian liquid softgel). Also contains coconut oil and tree nuts (coconut). Features MenaQ7, a non-GMO form of MK-7, which is proven to accumulate longer in the bloodstream than MK-4 and absorb faster than vitamin K1. Contains no carrageenan. Available in 60-count bottles.
- Zhou Nutrition Vitamin K2 with D3:
90 mcg vitamin K2 (113% DV) as MK-7 per serving (1 veggie capsule). Also contains 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 (1,250% DV) as cholecalciferol. Designed to maximize the health benefits to your bones and heart, while preventing vitamin D deficiency. Free from gluten, soy, milk, eggs, fish, and peanuts. Non-GMO, GMP certified, and manufactured in the USA. Available in 60-count bottles.
- NOW Vitamin K2 100 mcg:
100 mcg vitamin K2 (125% DV) as MK-4 (Menaquinone-4) per serving (1 veggie capsule). Also contains 2 mg of vitamin C (3% DV) and 300 mg of alfalfa powder. Free from wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, and tree nuts. GMP certified and non-GMO. Available in 100-count bottles.
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
Top 10 folic acid food sources: Spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans and legumes, poultry, oranges, yeast and beef extracts, fortified foods (some breakfast cereals).
Health benefits: Works with vitamins B6 and B12 to control blood levels of homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease. Folic acid has also shown to be beneficial in preventing serious birth defects in new-born babies, such as neural tube disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics and US Public Health Service (USPHS) both recommend women capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 μg of folic acid daily.
Most clinical studies are focused around the effects of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy.
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord. An ultrasound can detect around 95% of NTDs by week 18-20 of the pregnancy, but the defects usually happen in the first 4 weeks.
This is why many medical professionals will recommend supplementing your diet with folic acid as soon as possible.
In Canada, folic acid fortification of cereals became mandatory in 1998. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine measured the effect this had on rates of NTDs.
Over the course of 9 years, from 1993 to 2002, 1.9 million births were recorded, with 2,446 instances of neural-tube defects. Analysis of the results showed a decrease from 1.58 per 1000 births before fortification, to 0.86 per 1000 births during the ful-fortification period (46% reduction).
Daily recommendations for folate intake:
- Adults and children over 11 years: 200 ug
- Any woman considering pregnancy: 200 ug plus a supplement containing 400 ug
- Pregnant women: 300 ug plus a 400 ug supplement during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
- Lactating women: 260 ug
Source: The Association of UK Dieticians
Signs of folic acid deficiency:
Folic acid deficiency usually displays itself with a few basic symptoms – tiredness, weight loss, weakness, diarrhea, headaches, heart palpitations, and loss of appetite.
Signs of a folic acid overdose:
Very high doses of folic acid, supplemented over a long period of time, may lead to abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rash, sleep disorders, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, or behavior changes.
Bestselling folic acid supplements
- Nature Made Folic Acid 400 mcg:
400 mcg folic acid (100% DV) per serving (1 tablet). Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Free from starch, yeast, and gluten. USP tested and verified ingredients, potency, and manufacturing processes. Available in 250-count bottles.
- Sundown Naturals Folic Acid 400 mcg:
400 mcg folic acid (100% DV) per serving (1 tablet). Contains no gluten, fish, milk, or soy. Vegetarian formula. Supports heart and cardiovascular health. Available in 350-count bottles.
- NOW Folic Acid 800 mcg with vitamin B12:
800 mcg folic acid (200% DV) and 25 mcg vitamin B-12 (417% DV) as cyanocobalamin per serving (1 tablet). Free from wheat, gluten, soy, milk, and fish. Produced in a GMP certified facility. Available in 250-count bottles.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Top 10 thiamine food sources: Oatmeal, eggs, soybean sprouts, dry cereal, beef, pork, venison, liver, legumes, foods fortified with B1 (rice, pasta, bread, flour)
Health benefits: Helps your body metabolize carbohydrates and protein into energy, in the form of ATP.
A study published in the Internal Medicine Journal examined how effective thiamine was in the treatment of Wernicke encephalopathy. Specifically, patients with alcohol use disorders.
Researchers found it difficult to create a set of universally accepted guidelines for a daily dose of thiamine. Clinical studies tend to vary in their recommendations, depending on the level of deficiency.
The study concludes by advising a daily dose of 100 mg. For anyone with a definitive diagnosis of WKS or Wernicke encephalopathy, a starting dose of at least 200-500 mg for 5-7 days was recommended, administered through I/V. Thereafter, patients were advised to begin a dose of 100 mg/day.
Daily recommendations for thiamine intake:
- Newborns, 6 months: 0.2 mg (adequate intake)
- Infants, 7 months to 1 year: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
- Children, 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
- Children, 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
- Children, 9 to 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
- Men, 14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg (RDA)
- Women, 14 to 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)
- Men 19 and older: 1.2 mg/day
- Women 19 and older: 1.1 mg/day
- Pregnant women 19 and older: 1.4 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women 19 and older: 1.4 mg/day
Source: National Academy of Sciences.
Signs of a thiamine deficiency:
A lack of thiamine can lead to headaches, nausea, fatigue, and depression. In more acute cases, a deficiency of vitamin B1 can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) – a brain disorder that damages nerves in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
The link between WKS and vitamin B1 deficiency has been established at least as far back as 1986, where a necropsy study showed 80% of patients with the syndrome weren’t diagnosed during their lifetime.
An early form of WKS, known as Wernicke encephalopathy, is often found in chronic alcoholics. This is due to alcohol damaging the stomach lining and liver, which affects the body’s natural ability to absorb vitamins from food.
Signs of a thiamine overdose:
It’s extremely rare to overdose on vitamin B1, but symptoms can include headaches, weakness, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.
Bestselling vitamin B1 supplements
- Nature Made Vitamin B1 100 mg:
100 mg thiamin (6,667% DV) per serving (1 tablet). Contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or gluten. USP tested ingredients, potency and manufacturing processes. Available in 100-count bottles (100-day supply).
- Solgar Vitamin B1 Thiamin 500 mg:
500 mg vitamin B1 (33,333% DV) as thiamin HCI per serving (1 tablet). Free from gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, sodium, and sugar. Certified Kosher (K-1250), non-GMO, and suitable for vegans. Available in 100-count bottles (100-day supply).
- NOW Vitamin B1 100 mg:
100 mg vitamin B1 (6,667% DV) as thiamin HCI per serving (1 tablet). Non-GMO, suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Designed to support energy production and healthy nerve tissue. Formulated & distributed by Now Foods of Bloomingdale, IL. Available in 100-count bottles (100-day supply).
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Top 10 vitamin B2 food sources: Beef liver, lamb, milk, natural yogurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, soybeans, cuttlefish
Health benefits: Strengthens immune and digestive system, ensures proper growth of organs
There are still relatively few scientific studies for riboflavin, and the benefits it can bring to your health. There is some evidence to prove supplementing with riboflavin can reduce headache frequency, and be beneficial in the treatment of migraines.
A study by Boehnke et al. provided patients with 400 mg of riboflavin per day, in capsule form. The most significant benefits were seen after 3 months of supplementation, with a significant reduction in headache frequency, from 4 days/month to 2 days/month.
A separate meta-analysis of existing research, carried out 11 years later (2015), found similar results. After studying the effects of riboflavin on migraines in adults and children, researchers concluded that vitamin B2 played a positive role in reducing the frequency and duration of migraines, with no serious side effects.
Recommendations for daily riboflavin intake:
- Infants, birth to 6 months: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
- Infants, 7 to 12 months: 0.4 mg (adequate intake)
- Children, 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
- Children, 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
- Children, 9 to 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
- Boys, 14 to 18 years: 1.3 mg (RDA)
- Girls, 14 to 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)
- Men, 19 years and older: 1.3 mg (RDA)
- Women, 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
- Pregnant women: 1.4 mg (RDA)
- Breastfeeding women: 1.6 mg (RDA)
Riboflavin is best absorbed when taken between meals.
Signs of a vitamin B2 deficiency:
Fatigue, sensitivity to light, swelling and soreness of the throat, digestive problems, crack around the corners of the mouth
Signs of a vitamin B2 overdose:
Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body can excrete excess amounts easily. With a very high intake, you may experience itching, numbness, and heightened sensitivity to light.
Bestselling vitamin B2 supplements
- Nutricost Vitamin B2:
400 mg vitamin B2 (23,529% DV) per serving (1 capsule). Capsules contain gelatin, making them unsuitable for vegetarians. Non-GMO, gluten free, and made in the USA. Designed to support a healthy nervous system, energy metabolism, and fight riboflavin deficiency. Available in 120-count bottles.
- Nature’s Way Vitamin B2:
100 mg vitamin B2 (5,882% DV) per serving (1 capsule). Capsules contain gelatin. Free from soy, sugar, wheat, lactose, and artificial preservatives. Available in 100-count bottles.
- NOW Vitamin B2:
100 mg vitamin B2 (5,882% DV) per serving (1 capsule). Capsules contain gelatin. Non-GMO, free from sugar, salt, wheat, gluten, soy, and milk. Available in 100-count bottles.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Top 10 vitamin B3 food sources: Mushrooms, tuna, chicken, turkey, asparagus, halibut, salmon, peanuts, lentils, liver
Health benefits of vitamin B3: Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, increases levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, lowers triglycerides, boosts brain function, improves skin health, treats Pellagra, may reduce symptoms of arthritis and type 1 diabetes
There are two forms of vitamin B3; nicotinic acid, and nicotinamide (also known as niacinamide).
In 2015, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a phase 3 randomized trial, which tested Nicotinamide for skin cancer chemoprevention.
In this study, 386 participants with at least two nonmelanoma skin cancers (NSC) in the past 5 years received 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily for 12 months. This was to see whether nicotinamide could reduce the number of new NSC cases.
After 12 months, researchers noted a 23% decrease in the rate of NSC in the nicotinamide group compared to the placebo group. This led to the conclusion that oral nicotinamide (vitamin B3) was a safe and effective treatment for new nonmelanoma skin cancers in high-risk patients.
Recommendations for daily niacin intake:
- Boys and men, 14 yrs+: 16 mg/day
- Girls and women, 14 yrs+: 14 mg/day
- Pregnant women: 18 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women: 17 mg/day
- 1–3 years: 6 mg/day
- 4–8 years: 8 mg/day
- 9–13 years: 12 mg/day
- 0–6 months: 2 mg/day*
- 7–12 months: 4 mg/day*
*Adequate Intake (AI)
Source: Institute of Medicine
Signs of a vitamin B3 deficiency:
Development of a rash on skin exposed to sunlight, headaches, fatigue, depression, disorientation, and diarrhea. Pellagra can also be triggered by prolonged deficiency of vitamin B3, which is characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia.
Signs of a vitamin B3 overdose:
Nausea, gastrointestinal problems, increased liver toxicity (supplemental intake of 750 mg or more per day), and increased liver enzymes.
Bestselling vitamin B3 (niacin) supplements
- Nature’s Bounty Niacin:
400 mg niacin (2,000% DV) as Inositol Hexanicotinate per serving (1 capsule). Also contains 100 mg of Inositol. Designed to support your nervous system and natural energy production. Capsules contain gelatin. Made in the USA. Available in 50-count or 120-count bottles.
- Bulk Supplements Pure Niacin:
500 mg vitamin B3 (2,500% DV) per serving (3/16 tsp). Free from sugar, soy, dairy, gluten, and additives. Available in a range of sizes, from 100 g to 20 kg.
- Nature’s Way Niacinamide 500 mg:
500 mg vitamin B3 (2,500% DV) per serving. Niacinamide is the non-flushing form of Niacin (Vitamin B3). Free from sugar, soy, dairy, gluten, and additives. Capsules contain gelatin. Available in 100-count bottles.
Multivitamin Tablets vs. Powder
The delivery system you choose comes down to personal preference. You can now buy multivitamin tablets, capsules, liquids, softgels, and gummies.
There have been some clinical trials that suggest capsules deliver faster results than tablets, but none that used multivitamins in their tests. One study, published in 1986, found temazepam capsules were significantly faster at delivering results compared to the tablet form.
However, a separate study compared absorption of folic acid from softgels to a standard tablet. The results showed very little difference between the two in terms of bioavailability.
Multivitamin Brands We Review
With thousands of pure multivitamin supplements on the market, it’s difficult to know which brands you can trust. That’s why we researched more than 40 top supplement companies to guarantee you get high quality multivitamins at an affordable price.
This includes supplements from:
- Vitafusion (MultiVites, Vitafusion Women’s, L’il Critters Gummy Vites)
- Optimum Nutrition (Opti-Men, Opti-Women)
- Garden of Life (Vitamin Code, Vitamin Code Kids)
- Centrum (Silver, Adults)
- Rainbow Light (Men’s One, Women’s One, Prenatal One)
- Dr. Tobias (Vitality)
- Nature Made (Multi Complete, Multi For Him)
- Nature’s Way (Alive! Once Daily)
- MuscleTech (Platinum Multivitamin)
- One-A-Day (Women’s, Men’s Health Formula)
Health Benefits of Multivitamins
May help prevent cancer?
Some research suggests that multivitamins can help prevent certain forms of cancer. But how reliable are the studies, and if this is the case, what dosages were used?
Vitamin C is often linked to upper GI cancers. Combined research from the Cancer Prevention Study II and Seattle’s Barrett’s Esophagus Program has highlighted beneficial effects from vitamin C supplements on esophageal cancer and gastric cancer.
Unfortunately, these benefits were only seen in pure vitamin C supplements, not multivitamins. This may be because multivitamins typically have a much lower dose of individual vitamins.
However, the same study, published in the Nutrition and Cancer Journal, found a reduced risk of oral cancer correlated with multivitamin use and increasing vegetable consumption.
A separate study by Eric J. Jacobs et al. examined the association between a decreased risk of stomach cancer and multivitamin use. Analysis was performed on data from 1,045,923 United States adults from the Cancer Prevention Study II, over a period of 16 years.
In this time, there were 1,725 stomach cancer related deaths. Unfortunately, the results showed no significant association between stomach cancer mortality and regular use of multivitamins.
Helps reduce the risk of strokes?
High concentrations of the amino acid homocysteine have been linked to vascular disease and strokes. Folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 aid in the metabolism of homocysteine, helping to reduce the risk of ischaemic stroke.
This was highlighted by a paper published in The Lancet Neurology. After supplementing the diets of 43,732 men with vitamin B, researchers found an inverse relationship between dietary folate intake and risk of ischaemic stroke.
In 2015, meta-analysis of 17 trials (86,393 patients) was published in PLoS One, where researchers took this a step further. They attempted to identify the best combination of B vitamins for stroke prevention.
After testing various combinations of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, they found the risk of stroke was lowest in patients supplementing with folic acid plus vitamin B6. This was rated more effective than the combination of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
In concluding this research, vitamin B6 and folic acid are both valuable for stroke prevention, with more research needed into the benefits of vitamin B12.
Beneficial to the health of the elderly
A review of randomized controlled trials was published in The BMJ medicine journal. This examined the effectiveness of multivitamin and mineral supplements on reducing infections in an elderly population.
The results of this review showed that multivitamins reduced the mean annual number of days spent with infection by 17.5. However, researchers also concluded that the evidence was conflicting, and that some clinical studies reported no significant immune system benefits for elderly people.
Further research by Girodon et al found that supplementation, even with low doses of vitamins and trace elements, was effective at correcting deficiencies in the elderly. This was based on a controlled trial performed on 81 subjects in a geriatric center during a 2-year period.
In terms of preventing illness and infection, the greatest reduction was seen from zinc and selenium. In this case, the group received 20 mg zinc and 100 mcg selenium per day.
However, it’s important to note that a multivitamin isn’t a miracle cure. The best results will always come when you combine the supplement with a high quality diet and regular exercise. Diet alone can reduce the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infections.
Side Effects of Multivitamins
Multivitamins are typically a very safe way to increase your vitamin and mineral intake. But is it possible to take too much, and what happens when you do?
We’ve already covered the potential health impacts of mega dosing with specific vitamins, but it’s important to know how this can happen.
Vitamins fall into two groups; fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K), and water soluble (vitamins B and C).
- Water-soluble vitamins: These aren’t stored in the body, and need to be replaced each day. These are vitamins that can dissolve in water, and can be found in everything from plants to dietary supplements. If you consume more water-soluble vitamins than you need, the excess will simply be excreted, not stored by the body.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Stored by the body for long periods of time, leading to a greater risk of buildup and toxicity. They can be dissolved in fats and oils, and are sourced from plant foods, animal foods, and dietary supplements.
If you’re in any doubt about the levels you’re consuming, consult your health care provider before taking any supplement.