Three best vitamins
Looking to add some pep to your step? There are more multivitamins available on the market today than ever before. Manufacturers make formulas targeted to specific demographic groups from gender to age. In a society that's growing ever more health conscious, more vitamins now come in vegan, organic, or natural options.
With so many choices available, it can be difficult to decide which supplement is right for you. That's why we've put together a shopping guide to help you find a multivitamin that will correctly meet your unique needs.
Considerations when choosing vitamins
Do you need vitamins?
If you eat a well-balanced diet that includes all the food groups, you probably don't need a multivitamin. However certain populations and groups are at risk for a vitamin deficiency, including the following:
People with a limited diet: A busy schedule or dieting to lose weight can lead to some vitamin deficiencies.
People over 60: Medical conditions, medications, and diet restrictions put older adults at a higher risk for a vitamin deficiency. Formulas that target the over-60 group will have more vitamin D, magnesium, and certain B vitamins.
People who smoke and/or drink: Both drinking alcohol and smoking can sap your body of nutrients. You can counteract some of these effects with a multivitamin.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Both pregnant and breastfeeding women need extra nutrients to meet the demands placed on their bodies. Most prenatal vitamins include extra iron, calcium, and folic acid for the health of both mother and baby.
Types of vitamins
Women's: Women's vitamins focus on the unique nutritional needs of women, targeting bone and reproductive health. These vitamins usually contain higher concentrations of iron, calcium, and folic acid.
Men's: Men don't need the high concentrations of iron and folic acid that women do, so men's vitamin formulas contain less of these nutrients. Some men's formulas target illnesses like prostate cancer and heart disease with extra nutrients like lycopene.
Children's: Children's vitamins have some high demands placed on them. Not only do they need to have the right balance of nutrients but they also have to be easy for kids to take. For that reason, most children's vitamins come in a gummy (chewable) form that tastes good. Children shouldn't take adult vitamins because these could contain nutrients in amounts that are dangerous for younger people.
Age-specific: Some manufacturers target vitamins to very specific groups, such as people over 50. As the human body ages, it loses the ability to absorb some nutrients. Older people also face decreased appetite and prepare meals less frequently, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. These vitamins target the most common deficiencies, such as vitamin D and the B vitamins.
Percentages: In general, a multivitamin should contain 100% of the daily value for each nutrient. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. A full daily value of calcium and magnesium would make the pills too large to swallow.
Dosage: The body can only absorb so much of certain nutrients at one time. Read the dosage instructions carefully because some vitamins require that two or more pills be taken throughout the day.
Vitamin prices: The price of vitamins largely depends on what they contain and how they're made. Synthetic vitamins are far less expensive to produce, coming in between $0.06 to $0.36 per pill. Natural vitamins that are labeled organic, vegan, gluten-free, and/or non-GMO can be found for $0.20 to $0.70 per pill.
Q. Are pill or gummy vitamins better?
A. Nutritionally speaking, there's no difference between the two. It's more a matter of what you or your family can swallow most easily. It's worth noting that some gummy vitamins do have added sugar to make them taste better.
Q. Are natural vitamins better for me?
A. There's a heated debate surrounding synthetic versus natural vitamins. For some, like vitamin E, natural sources are easier for the body to absorb, but for others, the synthetic form is absorbed more easily. It depends on the particular vitamin or mineral. It really comes down to what you prefer. Many people like the idea of taking vitamins that come from natural sources. Keep in mind that natural vitamins are more expensive to produce, and it shows in the price.
Vitamins we recommend
Best of the best: Naturelo Whole Food Multivitamin
Our take: These vitamins check all the right categories -- vegan, organic, and natural. They've got all the key nutrients you need, and you'll have peace of mind knowing they come from natural sources.
What we like: Naturelo makes formulas for men, women, and children. We especially like that there are no preservatives, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.
What we dislike: They're pricey.
Best bang for your buck: Nature's Way Alive! Max3 Daily Adult Multivitamin
Our take: Nature's Way uses plant-based sources for these multivitamins. Though they're not gender-specific, they provide the key nutrients needed for a balanced diet.
What we like: Many people come back to these vitamins over and over again for their energy-boosting abilities. These vitamins also come in age-specific varieties.
What we dislike: The large pills can be difficult for some people to swallow.
Our take: Centrum is well known in the supplement industry, and these vitamins live up to the manufacturer's reputation. They've got key nutrients at an affordable price.
What we like: They come in a wide variety of formulas, including gender and age-specific varieties. For people with sensitivities, these gluten-free vitamins are made from non-GMO sources.
What we dislike: While they're safe and healthy, they aren't natural or vegan.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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