The Savvy Supplementer: Choosing the Best Multivitamin for You

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Updated: December 2nd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

In an ideal world, multivitamins would be redundant. All your micronutrients would come from your food. But let’s face it: Various circumstances (which need not be enumerated) may prevent you from eating healthy and meeting the quota of all of the 40-plus nutrients you need each day.

Choosing a Multivitamin


Enter the ubiquitous multivitamin (MV), a dietary supplement with the recommended daily allowance of all necessary nutrients for humans in a single dose. It combines different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to provide dietary support throughout the day.  A multivitamin fills in the gaps and act as medical insurance policy— a form of dietary due diligence.

Sound simple? But here’s the sticking point. When faced with choosing a multivitamin, it’s easy for decision fatigue to take over and sabotage your best intentions. The choices come fast and furious: dosage, formula, brand, price, and sourcing. Truth be told, without having a clear sense of what you are looking for, it can feel as overwhelming as deciding on a health insurance plan. A little guidance goes a long way, so check out our multivitamin primer.

Consider the perks:

Supports healthy energy levels and physical response to stress*
Supports healthy memory and focus*
Helps maintain a healthy heart and bones*
Supports immune system health*
Helps maintain healthy levels of essential nutrients, such as vitamin D and B12

Figure out the label lingo:

Whole Food Based Multivitamins
Considered the deluxe version of a multivitamin, whole food-based supplements, like Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW One for Women, are derived from edible foods rather than synthetically manufactured. More costly to produce, food-based MVs are thought to more easily absorbed by the body.

Standard Multivitamins
Derived from synthetic ingredients that don’t offer the synergistic benefit of nutrients working in tandem with each other. Most vitamins, unless explicitly stated that they are whole foods based, tend to be comprised of synthetically sourced nutrients.

Often vitamins come in either a single dose (a daily) or a multi-dose option. If you struggle to remember to take your vitamins, a once a day option might be a better set up for success. However, the three to six a day kind, taken in divided doses, keep vitamin levels in your blood more consistent.

Most companies make age and gender specific formulas. At different stages of your life, your nutritional needs change. A well-chosen multivitamin synchronizes your needs to the most appropriate formulation. Women and men tend to have different dietary requirements, especially when it comes to a woman’s needs for her child-bearing years.

To the degree possible your MV should be free of preservatives, colors, lubricants and fillers, which can cause reactions and prevent absorption.

In general, choose a supplement that provides 100% of the Daily Value (DV) for most of the vitamins and minerals in that supplement. Caveat: Some nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, are rarely included at 100% because the pill would be cumbersome. On the other hand, multivitamins that exceed 100% of daily recommended values may be overkill. Supplements are in addition to the nutrients in food, and certain nutrients in large doses may become toxic.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.