In a perfect world, we’d get all of our vital nutrients straight from our diet. But the truth is that it can be challenging to squeeze in the one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get every day.
In fact, up to 87 percent of Americans don’t hit their veggie target, and 76 percent are falling behind when it comes to fruit intake, so covering all your bases with a multivitamin may be a wise choice.
“Maybe you’re constantly on the go, traveling a lot, or just don’t eat a lot—something that’s applicable to smaller people with a lower metabolic rate,” says Serena Goldstein, ND, a naturopathic doctor in New York, NY. “Vitamins and minerals [from food] may [also] be depleted through sweat, stress, caffeine, alcohol, and certain prescriptions, so a multi can give you ‘a little extra.’”
And no matter what kind of multi you take, you’ll want one that supplements—not replaces—a healthy lifestyle, explains Dr. Goldstein. So make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet on top of taking your multis.
That said, when you start shopping for the best product to fit your needs, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of options. Here, what you should know about the various types of multis—and how to choose one that’s right for you.
Whole food vitamins
“Whole food vitamins contain vitamins and minerals derived from whole foods, versus those that are made in a lab—[which are] synthetic,” says Dr. Goldstein. They’re easier on your stomach, which is why Dr. Goldstein prefers them.
When taking this type of multi, you may want to consider upping your dosage. They have a larger variety of nutrients to offer than other “one-a-day” products, but not necessarily a high enough amount of each to meet your daily requirements. “Generally, if a bottle says ‘take one,’ it’s less likely there’s all that you need, or it’s a lower dosage,” explains Dr. Goldstein. Many whole food vitamins require taking anywhere from two to six pills per day.
Related: Shop PLNT’ Whole Food Multis.
Many targeted vitamins are made for specific concerns, usually based on age or gender (such as men or women 50+).
“[A targeted multi] may have more calcium and vitamin D, like for bone and heart health,” explains Dr. Goldstein. This is great for anyone who wants to hone in on specific health factors. Just make sure your multi meets your goals and provides all the other vits an supps you need on a regular basis.
Liquid And Powder Multivitamins
If you’re concerned about the timing of absorption, you may want to consider a liquid multi. “Liquids and powders will get absorbed faster,” explains Dr. Goldstein. “[With] capsules…the body has to go through that extra breakdown step.”
While this form is usually easier to ingest than large capsule or tablets, you’ll want to pay special attention to the dosing, which can vary from product to product. Also good to know: Liquid multis often require refrigeration and may be pricier than other multis.
No matter what type of multi you’re taking, it’s best to make sure that your multi offers roughly the recommended daily value of all the vitamins and minerals, as opposed to one that gives you 500 percent of one vitamin and only 20 percent of another, notes the Mayo Clinic. (The exception is calcium, which you won’t find 100 percent of in any multi, as that would make the supplement too big to swallow.) You can get the full list of recommended daily values at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Related: Should You Be Taking A Multivitamin?
We tend to think of gummy multis as go-tos for kids, but there are so many on the market for adults, as well. (It’s not surprising someone would like to nosh on something healthy and delicious over swallowing a capsule!)
However, some gummies do have drawbacks: “Gummies tend to have sugar and other preservatives that counteract why someone is considering a multivitamin,” explains Dr. Goldstein. Want a more natural gummy? Check out The Honest Company’s Multivitamin, made without GMO, gluten, soy, high fructose corn syrup, or gelatin. Or, try Garden of Life’s MyKind Organic Gummies.