10 Best Multivitamin Supplements Reviewed
Let’s be real. No one has a perfect diet. There are foods we just don’t like and avoid eating at all cost. However, avoiding certain foods can mean that you are missing key nutrients that your body needs. Having a well-balanced diet, complete with your daily allowance of key vitamins, minerals and nutrients, allows your body to perform at the highest level. When you are training, this can mean the difference between a great feeling trail run, a strong day at the gym, intervals that don’t hurt or complete misery. When you get right down to it, getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs, also means that when you aren’t training, you feel better, have more energy and are in better overall health. We took a look at the multivitamin supplements that are available on the market, and are offering our thoughts on the ten best on the market today.
10 Best Multivitamin Supplements
1. Nature's Way Alive! Maximum Potency
Delivery System: Unfortunately, this is a tablet, so it does contain some strange vegetable based fillers and binders. The good news, the fillers and binders are not wheat based, so this product is great for gluten-free diets.
Dose Rate: This product is one of the better dose rates on our list, touting three tablets per serving. This can easily be separated between meals for a better, more efficient uptake of nutrients.
Daily Allowances: Wow! There’s a lot of stuff packed in here. Most of the listed nutrients have 100% or more of the recommended daily allowances. We especially like that there is more available Calcium and Iron which are essential for good run performance. It’s called Maximum Potency for a reason!
Formulated for Athletes: Not this one. But one look at the ingredient list and you can be assured that you are going to get more than enough daily nutrients to support training and regular work out routines with this product.
Taste: This product does have a slight taste and minimal odor in the bottle. No strange after tastes have been reported.
Price/Value: This is where this product really wins. It is packed full of good stuff, it’s limited in the synthetics and comes with a great price! A 180 count bottle (60 day supply) will only cost you around $24, or $0.45 per day.
- Complete multivitamin
- Plenty of fruits and veggies
- No after taste
- Great for Muscle Function
- Also contains synthetic compounds
- Not vegan
2. Garden of Life Vitamin Code
Delivery System: Garden of Life Vitamin Code vitamins are formulated as a capsule. This means there are no fillers or weird binders. The lack of fillers and binders in the capsule form makes these a great choice for individuals that are looking for a great multivitamin that is gluten-free.
Dose Rate: This is one of the higher dose vitamins, but you can easily split this into two, two-capsule doses. Other reviewers do note that this is a supplement that you should take with food. It does have a tendency to upset empty stomachs.
Daily Allowances: With this product, you are getting more than enough nutrients with many of the recommended nutrients for runners, coming in at 100% of RDA or more. We are a little disappointed in the low amount of calcium, and iron available in this product. Even the women’s formulation doesn’t have more calcium.
Formulated for Athletes: Nope. This is a general daily multivitamin. You may have to add additional supplements, if you aren’t doing so already to maximize your training recovery and performance.
Taste: This product doesn’t have much of a taste or a noticeable odor when opening the bottle.
Price/Value: The price point for this product is mid-range for the products evaluated. A 120 count bottle (30 day supply) will cost you about $30. This is about a $1/day. Is it a good value? We think so. This RAW whole food supplement gives you everything you need, in a gluten-free, organic, vegan capsule.
- Natural Raw
- Improved Recovery
- No taste/after taste
- Increased Energy
- Capsule Form
3. Rainbow Light One
Delivery System: Like the Natures Way product, this one is also a tablet. We like this one less than the Natures Way because there are quite a few more fillers and binders listed on the ingredient list.
Dose Rate: This is one of the one a day products on our list. We feel comfortable ranking this product high due to the long-term research and testing by private consumer groups on the quality and delivery of nutrients, even with a one/day dose.
Daily Allowances: Similar to the Garden of Life, this product fits well in to the recommended daily percentages, by not pushing too many of the nutrients above 200% DRA. It is also limited in Calcium and Iron, so you will need additional supplements to get what you need for these nutrients.
Formulated for Athletes: No. However, this product does rate well on other sites that review products for athletes, so we feel confident that you will find this product just fine for training. You will get good recovery and have overall better health with this product.
Taste: This product appears to have minimal taste and odor, though should be taken with food due to some complaints of upset stomach. This could be due to the additional fillers.
Price/Value: Not the best value on our list. A 30 count bottle (30 day supply) will set you back around $13, or $0.42 per day. Price wise, it’s comparable to the Natures Way, but you just don’t get the quantity of nutrients.
- Simple to take
- Difficult to swallow
- Tastes bad
4. Now Foods Multivitamin: Adam and Eve
Delivery System: The great thing about this product, is it comes in three different delivery methods. Choose between capsules, soft gels and tablets. We like the capsules because they are vegan and gluten-free, and have that higher rate of absorption.
Dose Rate: You are looking at four pills a day, so this dose rate is reasonable. Easy to split between meals.
Daily Allowances: This product does give you a lot of extra nutrients. Almost as high as the Natures Way, but not quite. We do like that it has plenty of Calcium, but you will need an iron supplement to go with.
Formulated for Athletes: No. But like the Nature’s Way, you get plenty of extra in your daily serving so it’s a good product for athletes, without the price tag of a sports specific product.
Taste: A loser here. Let’s just say yuck. Lots of comments about the taste and odor of this product. If you can manage the taste, it’s a good product.
Price/Value: One of the better values on our list. A 120 count bottle will cost you around $20, or about $0.60 per day.
- Good Value
- Good Ingredient Profile
- A variety of delivery options
- No Iron
- Low Calcium
- Icky Taste
5. Optimum Nutrition: OptiMen and OptiWomen
Delivery System: We love the capsule. Even though your supplement is synthetic, you can rest assured that your body can get to it quick, with the fast dissolving capsule.
Dose Rate: This is the first supplement that we’ve reviewed that has a different dose rate for the men’s and women’s supplement. Though, we like the low number of pills, no matter what. The men’s recommended dose is three a day and the women’s is two a day.
Daily Allowances: You can tell these products are designed for high performance. Lots of extra nutrients here, and way above the recommended daily allowance for most of the compounds. We also love the high availability of Calcium and Iron. Clearly they were thinking about performance and recovery when they developed this product.
Formulated for Athletes: Yes. Optimum Nutrition is a leader in developing quality products for athletes, sports recovery and improved performance.
Taste: Not much taste or odor with this product, but there are plenty of reports of sour stomach with this product, especially if you take it without food.
Price/Value: For a high potency sports designed product, this is a pretty good value. Prices are different for the men’s and women’s products. For the men’s formulation you’ll find a 150 count bottle (50 day supply) for about $24 or $0.48 per day. The women’s formulation comes in a 120 count bottle (60 day supply) for about $17 or $0.28 per day.
- Easy To Swallow
- Great Value
- Great Ingredient Profile
- Essential Vitamins Included
- Don’t Take Without Food
- All Synthetic
6. Twin Labs Daily One
Delivery System: Capsules, so no binders or fillers to worry about. And you get quick absorption of nutrients which is good for a low dose product.
Dose Rate: We do like the single pill dose, combined with the capsule delivery method.
Daily Allowances: Plenty of extras here. Most compounds are sufficiently high in daily percentage to work well for an athlete or for recovery and performance. Also a good dose of Iron and some Calcium.
Formulated for Athletes: Not this one, but it rates well for athletes. With high nutrient content you will be fine using this product for improved performance.
Taste: No significant or noticeable taste or odor with this product. The glass bottle helps these capsules maintain stability. Do make sure you take this product with food or after a meal to avoid an upset stomach.
Price/Value: This product is very reasonably priced, and if you are looking for a higher performance product and are on a budget, this may be a great choice for you. A 180 count bottle will set you back around $27 or $0.15 per day.
- Easy on stomach
- Easy to swallow
- Comes with or without Iron
- Comes with or without Iron
7. Controlled Labs Orange Triad
Delivery System: Tablets. Not our choice simply because the fillers and binders do limit the rate of break down in the stomach, slows absorption rates and can add taste to the pill.
Dose Rate: The recommended daily serving for this product is 6, that’s right, count ‘em, 6 tablets per day. Make sure you are splitting up your doses, and taking with food so that you don’t end up with upset stomach, which you certainly will, if you take all six at one time.
Formulated for Athletes: Yes. Surprisingly, considering the complete lack of Calcium and Iron, which are really important for limiting fatigue and maintaining good electrolyte balance.
Taste: These have a bit of a chalky taste if you are slow to swallow, but other than that, taste isn’t an issue with this product. They are a huge pill, so if you don’t like swallowing pills, this one might not be the best option for you.
Price/Value: We’ll say this. For a product designed and marketed for athletes, the price here is reasonable. However, for a multivitamin, it’s not a great value. You can find this one on Amazon.com in a 270 count bottle (45 day supply) for about $32, or $0.72 per day.
- Full Of Necessary Vitamins
- Has A Full 45 Day Supply
- No Noticeable Taste
- Split Dosing
- 6 Pills Per Day
- Pills are Giant
8. Life Extension 2 Per Day
Delivery System: It’s a winner here, easy to digest capsule. So you know you’ll see the effects quicker than with a tablet.
Dose Rate: We do like that this supplement only requires two pills per day. Don’t forget to split your dose and take with food.
Formulated for Athletes: No. But does get good reviews from other sites for athletes for helping to improve performance.
Taste: Not good, not bad. Users report a mineral/vitamin smell. It’s noticeable but not too bad. Many users however do report that this product upsets their stomach. Some users also noted that this product did impact their sleep.
Price/Value: Find a 120 count bottle (60 day supply) for about $18, or $0.30 per day.
- Low Dose Rate
- Easy to swallow
- Bad flavor
- Upsets stomach
9. Irwin Naturals Living Green Liquid Gel Multi
Delivery System: This is a Liquid-gel so a nice combination of liquid and capsule. Easy to digest and quick availability of nutrients.
Dose Rate: Not bad here. The recommended dose is 3 gels per day, in divided doses with food and water.
Daily Allowances: You probably will get some improvement on performance with this product. It does provide some good extras for some compounds. However, in general, we think this product is dosed more appropriately for a daily multivitamin, not a performance enhancing product.
Taste: This is one of the few products reviewed that users didn’t complain about taste or odor, or even upset stomach.
Price/Value: This one is in the middle of the pack. You’ll find Irwin Naturals on Amazon.com in a 120 count bottle (60 day supply) for around $18 or about $0.30 per day.
- Easy on stomach
- Simple to take
- Easy to swallow
- Not Sport Specific
10. Nature Made Multi
Delivery System: This is a tablet so you are looking at a slower rate of digestion and slower absorption of the nutrients.
Dose Rate: This is another one per day serving size. However, because most of the nutrients do not exceed the FDA and NIH suggestions of no more than 200% of the DRA, this is probably fine for getting what your body needs.
Daily Allowances: The manufactures do follow the FDA and NIH suggestions here and keep daily allowances to the suggested daily maximum. This is fine, but you aren’t going to get a huge boost in performance from this product. If you are training, you may want to boost some of the compounds with an additional supplement.
Taste: Yes, a tablet also means a taste. This product does have a noticeable grainy taste and odor. It isn’t too bad, but if you are sensitive to smells you might not like this product much.
Price/Value: By far the most affordable product on our list. A 90 count bottle on Amazon.com is about $9 or $0.10 per day.
- Good Source of Nutrients
- Completely Synthetic
- Minimal Performance Support
- Mass Produced
Important Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Multivitamin For You
The multivitamin market can be an overwhelming undertaking if you aren’t sure what you are looking for, in a daily vitamin supplement. If you walk into your local health foods store or even the grocery store, the options for multivitamins are extensive. Not to mention what is available on the internet! It gets even more confusing when you start looking at the bottles and reading the labels of ingredients and daily allowance values. So, we took a closer look at what you need to know about multivitamins, so that when comparing our top ten list, you can decide what is best for your body and your training regime.
What Exactly Do Runners Need?
When you are looking at the list of vitamins, minerals and nutrients on the back of a bottle of supplements, there is a lot of information and how do you know if what you need to improve your running performance is in the supplement? Well, to help you out, here are the vitamins and minerals that will give you the biggest boost as a runner.
- Vitamin A improves your eye sight, which gives you an advantage when running at night or in traffic. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 700 to 900 mcg/day.
- Vitamin B-12 assists with red blood cell formation. Red blood cells are responsible for oxygen transfer through the body. More oxygen in your body and muscles means less fatigue. The RDA is 2.4 mcg/day
- Calcium is important for building strong bones, and is also an important electrolyte for muscle and blood vessel contraction. The RDA is 1000 mg/day.
- Vitamin C is a great antioxidant, helps with injury repair and assists with iron uptake. The RDA is 75 to 90 mg/day.
- Vitamin D helps prevent injury, reduces inflammation and is important for the absorption of calcium into your bones, it’s also known as the “sun vitamin” because your body will make vitamin D using available sunlight. The RDA is 600 IUs.
- Vitamin E supports your immune system, is a great anti-inflammatory and keeps blood vessels wide and pliable. The RDA is 1000 mg/day.
- Iron is the building block of blood, supporting oxygen transport and fueling muscles. Iron is essential for combating fatigue during strenuous exercise. The RDA 18 to 20 mg/day.
- Magnesium is an important mineral for your nervous system and is helpful for metabolizing energy sources. The RDA is 300 to 450 mg/day.
- Potassium improves hydration and is essential for proper muscle function. Potassium deficiencies lead to muscle cramps. The RDA is 4,700 mg/day.
- Selenium reduces oxidative cell damage, supports thyroid function and helps regulate metabolism. The RDA is 200 to 400 mcg/day.
- Sodium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte levels in your body and also aids in reducing the incidence of muscle cramps. Most adults should not have more than 2300 mg/day.
- Zinc is helpful for injury recovery, breaking down carbohydrates and improves your immune system response. The RDA is 8 to 11 mg/day.
It’s important to keep in mind, that many of these vitamins and minerals you can consume more of if your body needs an extra boost, while others can have negative effects on your body if you consume too much. For example, limit your intake of sodium to no more than the RDA, unless you are sweating a lot and need to replace electrolytes. It’s wise to avoid consuming more than the RDA of selenium as well. Vitamins and minerals that your body is fine taking more of are Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. If you are finding that you are feeling fatigued a lot, you may also want to add additional Iron to your supplement regimen.
The Numbers on the Back
When you look at the back of your supplement bottle, you will see two sets of numbers next to each compound. The first number is the amount that is available in the supplement and the second is the percentage of the RDA that you need. It is important to recognize that many of these vitamins, minerals and nutrients are going to have substantially higher doses than the RDA. That is OK, and you won’t be harmed by this but in many cases, your body doesn’t need the extra supplement and you end up passing the extra out of your body, in your urine. The FDA and the NIH both recommend that even for athletes, a supplement that provides no more than 200% of the RDA for each nutrient is sufficient to supplement and replace what your body needs.
The Nutrient Source
You’ve got two options when it comes to the source where your multivitamin gets its nutrients: 1) Synthetic or 2) Whole Foods. This is pretty obvious as far as what’s happening here. You can buy a multivitamin that has nutrients that come from a processed, not natural source. Or you can select a multivitamin that uses real food as the source of the nutrients in your tablets, powder or capsule. Believe it or not, synthetic vs. natural makes only a slight difference in how your body uptakes the nutrients, so the question of nutrient availability isn’t really a problem, when comparing synthetic and natural source multivitamins. This is however, an important consideration if you are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. Many of the synthetic sourced multivitamins use animal byproducts for sources of nutrients or have fillers that are wheat based.
This is a big consideration when you are shopping for a multivitamin. You’ve got some variability in your options for dose rate, and they go from very small to “wow, that’s a lot!” In our research, we noticed that this is probably the biggest variable with multivitamins on the market. You get those awesome “one a day” pills, or you get the multivitamin that wants you to take six pills a day. Yikes! Which do you choose? A couple of things to keep in your mind when deciding what works best for you. First, a one a day supplement, pack ALL of your nutrients into a single dose. This seems cool, you only have to choke down one vitamin. However, your body likely won’t uptake most of what is packed into that one pill, so you end up peeing out the rest. Second, most multivitamins recommend that you take them with food. So if you don’t like taking more than one pill at a time, if you select a supplement that has six pills per day, you’ll be eating all day long. Our research tells us that it’s probably best, and you get more bang for your buck if you select a multivitamin that has a dose rate of 2 or 3 pills per day. You can split your dose between your major meals, and your body will most efficiently absorb the nutrients.
Tablet vs. Capsule. vs. Powder
This is a matter of preference, but it is important to recognize that tablets do take longer for your stomach to break down, slowing the absorption of nutrients into your body. Capsules, powders and liquids absorb quicker and give your body access to nutrients faster. This is great for when you are training. However, when you are on the go, powders and liquids aren’t as convenient. Through our research, we think that capsules are the most convenient and practical choice.
Then there are gummies. Yes, gummies. There are adult gummy multivitamins on the market, and some are even geared for athletes. We think this is a great way to get kids to take a vitamin that they don’t have to swallow. For a training athlete, these just add unnecessary extra sugar to your diet. A LOT of extra sugar.
Men’s and Women’s
For some reason, it’s become trendy to develop multivitamins that have separate formulations for men and women. In reality, for most of the supplements on the market, there is little difference in the formulations. Many women’s formulations have more calcium, folic acid and iron to support bone health and reproductive health. In general however, it isn’t really necessary to select a gender specific multivitamin. There are products on the market that are one-size-fits-all, and they are just as effective for both men and women. We don’t have a preference here, but many of our top ten have separate formulations for men and women.
The Criteria We Used for Our Evaluation of the Best Multivitamin Supplements
We started our look at the best multivitamins on the market by surveying LabDoor.com. This company is an independent, non-biased company that tests the effectiveness of supplements. We looked at multivitamins that had ratings above 70, and were also available for purchase on Amazon.com. Then, we compared these products on the following matrices:
Mineral Source. Are the nutrients coming from a synthetic source or a whole foods source? Whole foods sources are more accessible to more people, including those that prefer organic, gluten-free, and vegetarian or vegan choices. Whole food sources can be higher cost than synthetic.
Delivery system. Preference is given to multivitamins that are available in a capsule, liquid or powder form to improve rate of uptake. Tablets should be organic and contain gluten-free binders.
Doses per Day. Single dose per day and high number of doses per day were given lower preference. Why? Because, in the case of one per days, they don’t allow complete absorption and more than three per day doses can be cumbersome.
Daily Allowances. The critical nutrients should have as much of the RDA available in each serving size. Understanding that many nutrients won’t be close to the RDA. Supplements that were above the RDA and provided extra nutrition for improved performance were given preference in this review.
Is the supplement formulated for athletes? This is a minimal consideration since many non-sports specific products that are considered high potency will provide the same amount of nutrients as a sports specific product. We find that this may just increase the price, but not the quality.
Taste. This is important. It’s a lot easier to take a multivitamin if it tastes OK or has no taste at all.
Price/Value. Are you getting a big bang for your buck, or are you just flushing money down the toilet?
Q: Do I really need a multivitamin?
A: This is a tricky question. Some sources will say that absolutely everyone needs a multivitamin, other sources say that they are helpful, but not necessary. There is some benefit to taking a multivitamin. Not one of us has a perfect diet, and as athletes, our body uses more nutrients than other people, just to perform well. Multivitamins are a great way to ensure that you get all the nutrients that you need for a healthy body, as well as improve performance and recovery.
Q: Are whole food supplements better than synthetic supplements?
A: Whole food supplements use actual fruits, vegetables and other plants as the source for nutrients, while synthetic supplements are created from non-food sources. Both are effective at providing nutrients to your body. However, if you are vegetarian or vegan, or require a gluten-free diet, whole food supplements are often a better choice, because they do not contain wheat or animal based products.
Q: Should I take my multivitamin with food?
A: Multivitamins should always be taken with food. This helps your body process the nutrients easier, and can help avoid an upset stomach.
Q: Is there a difference between men’s and women’s formulations?
A: Yes. Gender specific formulations contain different nutrients or different amounts of some nutrients that support the needs of male or female physiology. For example, women’s multivitamins will often have more folic acid, iron and calcium to help support the demands of the reproductive system.
Q: Does a multivitamin improve athletic performance?
A: Anytime you improve your diet, and give your body all of the nutrients it needs, you will see an improvement in performance. As an athlete, a multivitamin will give your body all of the nutrition it needs. If you choose a multivitamin that is sports specific, you will also get a boost in some nutrients that will help with muscle performance, endurance and activity recovery.
Q: Are there side effects to multivitamin supplements?
A: There are very few side effects to multivitamin supplements. The most frequently noted side effect is an upset stomach. This will often go away after a few weeks of consistent use, and can be avoided by taking your multivitamin with food.
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