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Guide to Buying a Better Multivitamin

Guide to Buying a Better Multivitamin

Guide to Buying a Better Multivitamin

Even the healthiest eaters following a varied diet can have nutritional deficiencies including low levels of important vitamins and minerals. Without a comprehensive vitamin and mineral analysis, it’s nearly impossible to accurately assess which specific micronutrients you’re lacking, and even then changes in physical activity, stress, sunlight exposure, and numerous other factors can affect your nutrient needs.

Eat the rainbow everyday

Variety in your diet is good, but it still might not meet all of your vitamin and mineral needs.

Enter the multivitamin. Comprehensive multivitamins provide “nutritional insurance” by delivering adequate amounts of all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. But not all multivitamins are created equal; many vitamin manufacturers cut costs by skimping on vitamin and mineral quantities and by using the least expensive, least effective (and sometimes dangerous) forms.

Below is a list of the vitamins and minerals you should find in a good quality multivitamin. We’ve also included the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily intake (DRI) for men and women, a recommended maximum daily intake (when appropriate), the forms to look for on your multivitamin’s label, and some common multivitamin add-ons.

DRI* – Men DRI* – Women Max daily intake What forms to look for
Vitamin A 900 µg or 4500 IU 700 µg or 3500 IU 3000 µg or 15,000 IU Mixed carotinoids and/or beta carotene
B1 (Thiamine) 1.2 mg 1.1 mg Thiamine di-phosphate or thiamine HCl
B2 (Riboflavin) 1.3 mg 1.1 mg Riboflavin-5’-phosphate or riboflavin
B3 (Niacin) 16 mg 14 mg 35 mg Niacin or Niacinamide
B5 (Pantothenic acid) 5 mg 5 mg Pantothenic acid or D-calcium pantothenate
B6 (Pyridoxine) 1.3-1.7 mg 1.3-1.7 mg 100 mg Pyridoxal-5′-phosphate or pyridoxine HCl
B7 (Biotin) 30 µg 30 µg Biotin
B9 (Folate) 400 µg 400 µg 1000 µg 5-MTHF or folate/folic acid
B12 (Cobalamins) 2.4 µg 2.4 µg Methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin
C 90 mg 75 mg Ascorbic acid or ascorbates
D 5-15 µg or 200-600 IU 5-15 µg or 200-600 IU 5000 IU Cholecalciferol
E 15 mg 15 mg 1000 mg D-alpha-tocopherol, mixed tocopherols, and/or mixed tocotrienols
K 120 µg 90 µg Phylloquinone or phytonadione
Potassium 4700 mg 4700 mg Potassium citrate or aspartate
Calcium 1000 mg 1000 mg 2500 mg Amino acid chelate, malate, citrate, or carbonate
Magnesium 420 mg 320 mg 750 mg Amino acid chelate, glycinate, or threonate
Zinc 11 mg 8 mg 40 mg Amino acid chelate, monomethionine, or glycinate
Iron 8 mg 18 mg 45 mg Iron protein succinylate
Manganese 2.3 mg 1.8 mg 11 mg Amino acid chelate or gluconate
Copper 900 µg 900 µg 10 mg Amino acid chelate, lysinate, or glycinate
Iodine 150 µg 150 µg 1100 µg Potassium iodide or kelp
Selenium 55 µg 55 µg 400 µg Selenomethionine, amino acid complex, or glycinate
Molybdenum 45 µg 45 µg 2000 µg Amino acid chelate or citrate
Chromium 35 mg 25 mg Chromium polynicotinate (ChromeMate®) or picolinate
Boron Boron citrate or proteinate
Common add-ons
Lutein Lutein
Lycopene Lycopene
Zeaxanthin Zeaxanthin
Choline 550 mg 425 mg Choline bitartrate or phosphatidylcholine
Inositol Inositol
Vanadium 1.8 mg Vanadyl sulfate


*The DRI – or Dietary Reference Intake – listed here is for men and women ages 14 years old and above. Micronutrient needs for infants, children, teens, and pregnant and lactating women can be significantly different than those listed.

The amount of each vitamin and mineral in your multivitamin should be somewhere between the minimum DRI and maximum daily intake. For nutrients without an upper limit – especially some of the B vitamins – it’s not uncommon to see amounts that are thousands or tens of thousands of times greater than the DRI. In this case, whatever isn’t absorbed will be eliminated (which is why high doses of B vitamins can make your pee glow).

For minerals, you might notice that there are quite a few different forms – amino acid chelate, glycinate, gluconate, carbonate, citrate, etc. The different forms can provide various unique benefits, but for a multivitamin the form to look for is amino acid chelate or amino acid complex as these are the most easily absorbed.

High quality multivitamin

Our Performance Plus Packs provide the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals in their effective forms plus fish oil, a whole foods blend, immune system support, cognitive health nutrients, and antioxidants.

One last note: if you’re a man it’s best to opt for the iron-free version of a multivitamin, and many manufacturers now have men’s formulas that don’t contain iron. The same goes for post-menopausal women whose iron needs are far less than what they were before menopause.

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