It’s hard to think of a supplement on the market these days that is as simple and straight forward as the basic multivitamin.
That’s probably a big reason why multivitamins are one of, if not THE most popular supplements there are among men and women of every age (even seniors, kids and pregnant women).
The problem with this apparent simplicity is that it often leads to people either just taking them or ignoring them without ever really considering why.
I mean, with other supplements, people are obsessed with learning if they truly should take them, what their benefits and side effects are, and figuring out what brand is best for them.
But with multivitamins, it seems like those types of questions are skipped over in favor of either just taking them (because “they’re good for you”) or not taking them (because “they’re pointless”). It all just seems too obvious to give it more thought than that.
Now, while most of it really is just as obvious as it seems in this case (you’ll see), there are still certain factors that should always be considered.
Let’s cover all of them right now…
What Is A Multivitamin?
You know all of those essential vitamins and minerals that we are supposed to be supplying our bodies with on a daily basis through our diet?
Well, a multivitamin supplies most of them in the form of a super convenient supplement.
What Does It Do? What Are The Benefits Of Multivitamins?
For the handful of people that can’t possibly guess what the benefits of multivitamins are, this is for you.
The human body requires various vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to keep you alive, healthy and functioning at your best.
Each of those vitamins/minerals have their own benefits and play their own roles in your body. Since a multivitamin provides them, its benefits are that of pretty much every vitamin and mineral it contains.
Pretty obvious, right?
Of course, the true benefit of a multivitamin is the format itself.
Like I said before, we were meant to get all of these important nutrients each day from our regular daily diet. Problem is, the typical “regular daily diet” these days often fails to do that.
With a multivitamin, you just take a single tablet (or more depending on your brand) and you instantly get a daily serving (or close to it) of the vitamins and minerals your diet might be lacking. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that.
And that’s pretty much where the list of multivitamin benefits end.
However, since the dietary supplement industry is a deceitful world filled with lies and false claims, it’s possible that you’ve heard multivitamins provide other benefits beyond what I just described.
You know, like how they will magically help you lose fat, build muscle, increase strength, improve performance or anything similar.
That’s all bullshit marketing crap used to get you to overpay for a product that won’t provide any additional benefits beyond what any other multivitamin on the planet would.
Now sure, the vitamins and minerals contained in a multivitamin ARE playing a role in fat loss, muscle growth and all of those other fitness related goals.
In fact, they are playing a role in literally every other thing your body is doing to keep you alive and healthy.
However, they still won’t directly help you achieve those types of goals no matter what the supplement company claims. Only a proper diet and workout are capable of doing that.
A multivitamin is just one of the many useful indirect parts of the overall process.
Does It Really Work?
Yes, in terms of providing various essential vitamins and minerals in a very convenient form… it definitely works.
In terms of doing any of the other magical things I explained a second ago that certain multivitamin brands sometimes like to claim… then no. That’s all bullshit.
Is It Safe? Are There Any Side Effects?
Assuming you’re taking a brand that provides ideal amounts of the various vitamins and minerals it contains (and not overly huge megadoses), and it contains the right vitamins/minerals for your specific needs (more on that later), then it’s definitely safe. There are no research proven side effects when used in this manner.
I mean… hello… it’s a multivitamin. It contains the vitamins and minerals the human body is MEANT to consume each day for optimal health and function.
Obviously, the usual common sense warning always applies as well: If you are taking any medications or have any known health or medical issues, or are pregnant or nursing, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor first just to be sure (and always use your doctor’s recommendations over mine or anyone else’s).
But if you are just a typical healthy adult using it properly, a daily multivitamin is probably one the safest supplements there is.
When and How Should It Be Taken?
Multivitamins should always be taken with a meal to allow for maximum absorption.
If taking more than 1 tablet per day (for some multivitamin brands, one “serving” is 2 or more tablets), you should take each tablet at a different time of the day. You know, like 1 in the morning and 1 at night.
Do I Truly Need To Take A Multivitamin?
Here’s how I usually answer this question…
- If your diet is NOT as good as it should be: Yeah, probably. (Of course, what you should really be doing is improving your overall diet itself, because a multivitamin alone won’t magically fix it.)
- If your diet actually IS really good: No, you most likely don’t need to take one. But could you still benefit from taking one anyway? Maybe.
After fish oil, multivitamins are probably the next most often recommended “must have” type supplement that pretty much everyone could be taking whether they workout, eat right or care much about improving their body in the first place.
I’m sure you can understand why someone with a poorer overall daily diet would benefit from taking a multivitamin, but you might be confused as to why someone whose diet actually is pretty good might take one.
Well, the thinking is that it will serve as your diet’s backup plan. Like your own little nutritional insurance policy guaranteeing that your body gets everything it needs on a daily basis, even when you didn’t quite eat as well as you should have or typically do.
You know the saying “it’s better to be safe than sorry?” Well, that’s a pretty accurate way of explaining why multivitamins are often taken. It basically serves to prevent the possibility of any potential nutrient deficiencies.
In my case (and the case of most of the experts whose opinions I highly respect), that would be my primary reason for taking one.
I don’t mean to brag, but my diet is pretty damn good. It’s extremely high in foods loaded with nutritional value, and extremely low in useless processed crap.
However, I still often take a daily multivitamin (just half a serving, actually) for the added peace of mind of knowing that my body is getting sufficient amounts of every important vitamin and mineral it needs for optimal health and function, while still staying far below anything close to those toxically high megadose levels I mentioned before.
So, if your diet isn’t as good as it should be and you’re deficient in certain vitamins/minerals, a multivitamin should definitely be considered (along with just fixing what’s wrong with your diet). But if your diet IS as good as it should be, the “need” for taking one is likely eliminated, but the potential to still serve a beneficial purpose anyway may still exist.
Which Brand Is The Best?
As for the best multivitamin brand, this is usually where most of the confusion lies.
There are hundreds of different multivitamins on the market, all containing different amounts of certain vitamins and minerals (often in different forms, too), and all claiming to be the best of them all.
Some are made specifically for men, some are made just for women, and some are for people over the age of 50. Others are for people who live an active lifestyle, or need more energy, or have specific health benefits in mind (heart health, colon health, etc.).
The list goes on and on, and each multivitamin is designed differently to be the best for that exact purpose.
So, how do you figure out which multivitamin truly is the best for you?
Well, there’s 5 main factors to consider:
- The amounts of vitamins and minerals. Does it provide too much, too little, or an ideal amount of the various vitamins and minerals it contains? If it contains too much of something, it’s a big waste that will literally end up going down the toilet (and could also potentially be dangerous if it’s well above what it should be). And if it contains too little of something, then you’re just not getting your money’s worth.
- The type of vitamins and minerals. For example, every multivitamin might contain calcium, but in what form? Calcium citrate or calcium carbonate? Is the vitamin A from beta carotene, retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate? I could ask dozens of these questions, and each multivitamin would have a different answer.
- The quality. As in, does the multivitamin ACTUALLY contain the claimed amounts of what it should and none of what it shouldn’t? Only independent lab testing can tell you that, and I’ve actually seen some results. In general, most pass just fine (even the generic store brands), but a few popular brands failed for containing significantly more or less of certain nutrients than they were supposed to.
- Your specific needs. The human body has slightly different vitamin and mineral requirements based on certain factors like your gender, age, diet and lifestyle, and your multivitamin should suit those needs. One of the best examples of this is iron. Younger women (who are premenopausal) almost always want a multivitamin that contains iron. On the other hand, men of any age and older women (who are postmenopausal) typically want one that contains absolutely no iron whatsoever. This is just one of many examples.
- The price. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of multivitamins out there that claim to have all sorts of special benefits that others just don’t have (again, it’s all bullshit). However, doing this allows them to drive up the price. Do you want to overpay for those false claims? I don’t. At the same time, I also don’t want to underpay for quality, so while avoiding the highest priced stuff is probably the right idea, going with the absolute cheapest stuff you can find might not be.
My Recommendations For The Best Multivitamins
Now, to be perfectly honest, I’ve found that there really is no absolutely perfect multivitamin on the market that gets all 5 of these factors just right.
Trust me, I’ve looked… and I continue to look often. I have yet to come across anything that I can legitimately call the best multivitamin.
What it basically comes down to then is just picking the one that gets the most stuff right and the least stuff wrong.
So, rather than give a single recommendation like I’ve done with other supplements, I’m going to instead give a list of multivitamin brands that I feel best fit the above description.
In no specific order, they are:
- New Chapter
- Rainbow Light
- Nature Made
- The generic store brands from Costco, Target and GNC (I hate GNC as a supplement store, but I like their multis).
- Centrum Silver (only for men & women over the age of 50)
If I can ever narrow this list down to single “best” choice, or if I ever find another brand of multivitamins that I truly consider better than any of these, I will definitely update this recommendation to show it.
But as of right now, these are the brands that I’d be most likely to use or recommend.
With all of your multivitamin questions answered, it’s time to move on to the next supplement that might be beneficial to you and your specific goal… creatine.
(This article is part of a completely free and amazingly awesome guide to creating the absolute best diet plan possible for your exact goal and preferences. Check out the entire guide here: The Best Diet Plan)