You already know that the best way to get essential nutrients is by eating a healthy, balanced diet. But if you, like me, have been targeted on social feeds by sleek vitamin startups claiming to fill the gap in your diet, you may be wondering: should I be taking a multivitamin?
I know from personal experience that when I eat well, a positive chain reaction takes place: I feel more energized, I sleep better, and I'm a happier human being. But since we're all trying to live our best lives, I took my question to Dr. Sunitha Posina, MD, a board-certified internal medicine physician in Stony Brook, New York. "It's important to keep in mind that a multivitamin isn’t a replacement for a balanced healthy diet," Dr. Posina says. "With a few exceptions, multivitamins or any other vitamins aren’t something I necessarily recommend unless diets are extremely limited, or if you have a poor appetite and eat significantly less than usual."
However, a targeted approach to a vitamin regimen can be beneficial in certain instances: "It can be difficult to acquire optimal vitamin D levels in areas of limited sun exposure or due to seasonal changes, so in this setting, vitamin D supplements have demonstrated benefit," she says. "If one is on a vegan or vegetarian diet, they are at increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. In this setting, I would recommend getting vitamin B12 levels checked by the doctor and supplementing it based on levels." (Dr. Posina also notes that vitamins and supplements are not FDA-approved, and to be wary of companies relying on marketing to attract consumers.)
That said, if you've run the idea past your medical provider and want to incorporate a multi that fits your health needs and lifestyle, there are a few ways to navigate this complication market with confidence: "Some 'green flags' to look for are the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal; or the NSF International, Underwriters Laboratory or Consumer Lab seal," advises Dr. Posina. Peruse some of her recommendations — and some Most Wanted team member’s personal favorites — below.
"Nature Made has the USP verification and the Pharmacist Recommended seal — this is usually the one I recommend because they're easy to find, they are certified, and they're affordable," Dr. Posina says. "We know what we are getting." You can't go wrong with the Multi For Her, which clocks in at an accessible $12.
For expecting mamas, Dr. Posina suggests Ritual's vegan Prenatal multi, which includes folate and choline to support neural tube development. (Another thing we love: Ritual's supply chain information is available online for full ingredient transparency.)
Rae's consciously-made vitamins (which I personally take and love) are vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, artificial preservatives, fillers, and colorants. They're also easy-to-swallow and are readily available online or at your local Target. (Plus, the brand donates 5% of all revenue to Girls Inc, a non-profit organization that empowers young women through direct service and advocacy.)
These gummy vitamins are so delicious, you'll legit want to eat them by the handful. (Writer's note: Do *not* do this.) What's more, they're NSF-certified, gluten-free, and are made without artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.
Sakara's curated approach to vitamins features individual packets of six capsules made with plant-based ingredients and botanicals, including a daily dose of Superfood Multi. They're pricey AF, but if the limit for your wellness routine budget doesn't exist, then you'll definitely love these. (BTW, these are manufactured in a NSF-certified facility under the FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines.)
Most Wanted editor Emily Ruane started taking New Chapter’s prenatal supplement during her second pregnancy, after a blood test revealed low iron levels. “My OB-GYN insisted that I take prescription iron supplements, but I knew from experience that they can slow your digestive system to a crawl,” she explained. “I consulted my mom-friends group text, and they unanimously recommended this brand and its prenatal multivitamin, which includes iron (among a zillion other things). They turned out to be easy on my stomach, and definitely gave me more energy.” The Vermont-based New Chapter is also a B corporation, and uses sustainably sourced, non-GMO ingredients and no synthetic fillers in creating its vitamins.
These Amazon's Choice multivitamins have a whopping 12,000 reviews and counting, and are non-GMO certified. Plus, they include vitamin C, zinc, and more to support immune health. In scanning the thousands of reviews, we came across one from a longtime customer named Kristin W., a quality assurance professional with a background in biochemistry who’s logged time at nutritional supplement companies. “I have been taking this multivitamin every day for more than 3 years, [and] I will first say that [it is] top-notch. ... A few years ago I got into a health kick and started researching the best multivitamins for women. I decided to give Rainbow Light a try, and I'm glad I did.” After taking the formula along with additional vitamin D3, omega-3, and B-12 supplements, she wrote, “my opinion is that this is one of the highest quality multivitamins for women at this price level. I can say my overall health has improved since I started taking it (anecdotally), and I plan to continue purchasing it in the future.”
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