What to Look for in a Multivitamin

Registered Dietitian Melanie Douglass shares her picks for the best vitamin for your life.

Here are 4 things to look for when shopping for a multivitamin:

1) Ignore the claims. Vitamins that claim to be good for “cholesterol health” “weight loss”, “memory enhancement”, “breast health”, “bone health”, etc. are often based on flimsy evidence. Instead, stick to these basic categories:

a. Women’s (premenopausal)

b. Women’s 50+ (postmenopausal)

c. Men’s

d. Children’s

2) More is not better! Look for 100% or less of the Daily Value for each nutrient. There are three main reasons for this:

a. We eat food every day—and some of those foods are practically vitamin supplements themselves (cereals, energy bars, meal-replacement drinks). Food supplies nutrients too—so there is no need to consume more than 100% of a nutrient from a pill.

b. We know that vitamins have a specific function in the body. Supplements help optimize function—if there is a deficiency. For example, vitamin A is necessary for vision, but if you are not severely vitamin A deficient, taking more vitamin A will not enhance your vision.

c. Some nutrients are water-soluble which means excess amounts are simply excreted in the urine. Taking too much can be a huge waste of money.

d. 6 nutrients are potentially harmful if consumed in excess:

i. Beta-carotene

ii. Vitamin A (retinol)

iii. Iron

iv. Folic Acid

v. Phosphorus

vi. Vitamin B6

3) If you are a woman, take Calcium as a separate supplement. A simple calcium citrate supplement with vitamin D is a good bet. Look for one with ~300 mg of Calcium and ~200 IU of vitamin D per serving.

4) Look for a seal of approval. There are two credible organizations that test dietary supplements for quality:

a. USP – U.S. Pharmacopeia

i. “USP tests the purity, potency, and quality of dietary supplement finished products. Only those that meet USP’s stringent criteria are awarded use of the USP Verified Dietary Supplement Mark to display on their product labels. Finding this mark on a dietary supplement label helps to assure consumers that the supplements they buy provide the expected value.”
— USP website, 7.31.08

b. Consumer Lab

i. Tests to see if products:

1. Contain “claimed” amount of nutrients

2. Did not exceed accepted level for lead

3. Able to break apart properly (dissolve and absorb in the body)

Here are my top recommendations for multivitamin supplements:

Premenopausal Women:

1. Nature Made Multi Complete*

2. Kirkland Signature Daily Multi* (Costco)

3. One-A-Day Maximum

4. Target Multivitamin/multimineral

5. Centrum

Postmenopausal Women:

1. Nutrilite Daily*

2. Centrum Silver*

3. Nature Made Multi for Her 50+

4. Theragran-M Advanced

5. Walgreens One Daily 50 Plus


1. Nutrilite Daily*

2. GNC Men’s Mega Men*

3. One-A-Day Men’s Health Formula

4. Theragran-M Advanced

5. Target Men’s Daily


1. Flinstones Complete

2. Puritan’s Pride Children’s Multi Gummies (2 gummies per day)

Melanie has more tips in her book, Tip A Day Guide to Healthy Living. And you can find her exercising routines through www.podfitness.com.

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