We do not suggest taking ANY multivitamin because studies are showing that they are not helpful and can actually be harmful.
Almost one-third of all Americans take multivitamins and yet the nutrient-packed pills continue to be gravely misunderstood.
This article is meant to clear up the fog regarding the process by which different types of multivitamins are made and the resulting effects on the body. Not all multivitamins are synthetic but they are all made in labs to some degree.
What's In A Multivitamin
Multivitamin is a loose term as it does not have a singular definitive meaning. For example, you may have seen the vitamin C powders in stores designed to boost your immune system with high doses of vitamin C (Emergen-C).
Those powders could technically be a type of multivitamin since they contain about 20 different vitamins and minerals. They are not marketed as multivitamins and instead the companies choose to focus on the vitamin C. What's my point? Their ingredients are interchangeable with any modern day multivitamin!
Even big brand cereals are technically multivitamins since they have 20%-100% daily value of over 15 vitamins and minerals.
So, what the heck is a multivitamin? For the sake of time and maintaining sanity, let's just agree that any companies who are marketing their product as a multivitamin are the ones who are selling the definitive "multivitamin."
What follows are the five different types of multivitamins.
1- Fully synthetic
This is what you might call "Standard Process Vitamins." These products tend to be very inexpensive to buy but the downside is that they are made using cheap vitamins with a lot of unhelpful fillers. Fully synthetic vitamins (like Centrum and One A Day) contain almost only man-made chemicals that are designed to imitate the effects of natural vitamins. Some synthetic vitamins, such as dl-tocopherol (synthetic form for Vitamin E) are only half as effective as d-tocopherol ( the natural form of Vitamin E).
Standard process vitamins are not as effective as the natural form and are often inferior in terms of absorption; therefore, I would suggest going with a more natural option. In addition, synthetic vitamin brands/products often contain toxins like talc and heavy metals.
A lot of vitamin's side effects come from these and they dampen the whole "dietary supplement" industry with their poorly designed products.
2- With Food (not from food)
Multivitamins such as Alive by Nature's Way offer these same synthetic vitamins but instead of just floating around with unnecessary fillers, they are put into a food base. The "food base" is what amounts to tiny crumbs of vegetables which hold no actual nutritional value. The whole food base is how they are able to claim "with Food Based Blends" which, whether they mean to or not, gives the impression that their product is sourced from food when it is not. On the upside, having that bit of food helps the vitamins get absorbed more efficiently (in theory) and slightly reduces stomach discomfort. Just to be clear, these vitamins are not in a biologically active (natural) form.
3- Lab Enhanced into Biologically Active Forms
Synthetic vitamins can be activated (changed into their natural form) using enzymes and certain laboratory processes. Once they are activated, they can be absorbed by the body much better. Lab enhanced vitamins do not come from food but are in the same form as vitamins that come from our food.The advantage to this type of vitamin is that it is extremely cost effective versus food based vitamins but absorbed almost as well.
An example of one that uses biologically active forms is Life Extension's Two-Per-Day. Their Two-Per-Day is an extremely high potency multivitamin that is great for anyone who has absorption problems or wants to get the most out of their multivitamin. This is one of the multivitamins I use.
4- Enhanced Using Yeast
Some multivitamins, like Megafood and New Chapter, use vitamins that are truly out of food and yeast. The process of producing these vitamins is actually pretty interesting, it involves a large vat of yeast and natural foods, vitamins are put in the vat. The vitamins are consumed by the yeast and food (vegetables, herbs, fruits) which put the vitamins through chemical processes that naturally activate them. This process allows us to get vitamins that are in the same form as they would be if we ate healthful food. The downside of these is that they have yeast in them which, for some is not a concern but many people have to avoid.
5- Enhanced Using Food
Believe it or not, there is only one company that is truly dedicated to making organic food enhanced vitamins. My Kind by Garden of Life (links to women's and men's) also uses food to get the vitamins into a biologically active form exactly like the previous type however they use the least amount of yeast possible and are USDA organic. The process is the same as described above (large vat but instead of food and yeast it only contains food). The upside is that the vitamins are naturally made to be biologically active. The downside is that they tend to be very expensive.
All multivitamins are different and everyone's body reacts accordingly based on which one we take and based on how we respond to vitamins and minerals. If you are considering taking vitamins, then make sure to take ones that meet your specific diet and health needs.
If you are considering taking a multivitamin, then, unfortunately, we can not suggest taking a multivitamin because studies are either biased, inconclusive, or just showing that they are not very helpful.
Some of us need multivitamins due to age, diet, or a specific health condition. If you are a looking for the best multivitamin for you and you need to take one, then we recommend going with one that is enhanced using food.
If you are convinced that you need to take a multivitamin without a doctor's request or health condition, then I would highly recommend this product. And yes, that is a recipe for a sweet potato salad with honey lemon dressing. Thank you, Nag at RecipeTinEats.com for offering us a true multivitamin!! :)