The Best Multivitamin Brands
Pick up the slack in a less-than-perfect diet.
Let’s face it: Eating right all the time isn’t easy. Even the most health-conscious among us sometimes struggle to get all our vitamins and minerals from food alone. That’s why it’s smart to invest in a good multivitamin to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. But the sheer variety of options — synthetic, whole food, gummy, liquid, men's and women’s formula, 50-plus, organic, etc. — can make choosing the right multivitamin a challenge.
I set out to simplify the search by consulting dietitians, viewing customer opinions, reading multivitamin reviews, and combing through existing research and studies to find the best. I focused on the big questions: What matters most in a multi? What do consumers need to watch out for? And which brand offers the greatest value?
There is no single best formulation for the masses, but in terms of brands, the top pick is Centrum. The brand has a strong reputation and widespread availability. Centrum products are also affordable, have the right vitamin and mineral content, have earned tons of great customer feedback, and have zero flavor at all (this is definitely a good thing).
The 7 Overall Best Multivitamin Brands
How We Chose the Best Multivitamin Brands
Over the course of more than two months, I reviewed nutritional research, compared dozens of multivitamin formulas, and sifted through customer reviews. I consulted with Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of more than 10 books on vitamins and nutrition, and even conducted a survey of frequent multivitamin users to find out which features mattered most to them.
There’s no denying the importance of taking a multivitamin designed for your age, gender, and condition (hello, expectant mothers!) to ensure optimal nutrition. I made a point of choosing multivitamin brands that offered unique formulas to suit men and women of all ages, as well as children and pregnant women.
I started out with hundreds of products and narrowed them down to the top 30 based on availability, price, daily serving size, and customer feedback. Then, I compared the remaining vitamin formulas to the Daily Values and the more modern Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) to see which provided the best nutrition and the best value overall. (For background, the Dietary Reference Intake is a compilation of nutritional recommendations compiled by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Among other things, it’s used in healthcare policy as well as structuring diets for schools and hospitals.)
Oh, and in case you’re curious — vitamins composed of nutrients sourced entirely from whole-food ingredients have not been found to be more potent than engineered multis. Since they’re also cheaper and usually require taking only one pill per day, I slightly favored synthetic formulas in this review. I completely understand some people are concerned about the artificial dyes and chemicals used in synthetic multis. If you’re more drawn to whole-food vitamins with their additional phytonutrients, I also made some whole-food recommendations for you.
Other Multivitamin Picks to Consider
The Best Whole-Food Multivitamin
Garden of Life’s RAW ONE
Garden of Life’s RAW ONE formulas provide an ideal amount of vitamins and minerals sourced from real foods without any artificial flavors or dyes.
The Best Gummy Multivitamin Brand
Nature’s Way Alive! Gummies
Nature’s Way Alive! Gummies are among the most nutritionally complete gummy vitamins and have earned rave reviews about the taste.
The Best Prenatal Multivitamin Brand
Centrum Specialist Prenatal
Centrum Specialist Prenatal stood out as a complete source of vitamins and minerals as well as omega-3s to support healthy brain and eye development.
A Full Review of the Best Multivitamin Brand
Across all ages and genders, Centrum proved worthy of its reputation as the most popular vitamin brand, according to our own survey and US News & World Report. Its supplements consistently adhere to the latest dietary guidelines and offer a full range of vitamins and minerals. Plus, Centrum ended up being one of the cheapest brands I reviewed. The vitamins were easy to swallow, and fared well in a taste test.
The Supplement Facts don’t read 100 percent Daily Values across the board, but in this case, that’s a good thing. Centrum operates off of the most recent DRIs — a better reflection of your nutritional needs than the older DVs. The easy-to-swallow tablet left no aftertaste, which is more than I can say for most. Some tasted like tree bark (yes, seriously).
In my price comparisons, Centrum multivitamins came out to be $0.10 per serving or less in bottles of 200 tablets, no matter where you bought them. That means you won’t need to reorder often, and a year of Centrum vitamins should cost under $40.
In our survey of over 400 regular multivitamin users, Centrum was voted the most popular multivitamin brand with 28.3 percent of the vote.
What brand of multivitamin do you take?
Centrum is also the brand most recommended by pharmacists, according to US News & World Report. Customers on Amazon have expressed a positive opinion, as well: Almost every Centrum product boasts at least 4 out of 5 stars.
Who is it best for?
Centrum makes 16 different formulas catering to all types of consumers. I recommend its multis across the board — Centrum Men, Centrum Women, Centrum Silver Men, and Centrum Silver Women. For your kids, go with the Flavor Burst Chews over its Kids’ Chewable formula, which received a lot of negative feedback on taste. If you’re on a budget, Centrum is also among the most inexpensive multivitamin brands on the market.
Who should skip it?
If you have unique dietary requirements or simply place a higher priority on products derived from real food sources, Centrum’s not for you. Check out Garden of Life RAW ONE instead. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, a chewable, liquid, or gummy multi may be better. Centrum does make liquid and chewable vitamins, but if it’s gummies you’re after, you’ll need to turn to another brand.
The Runners-Up for Best Multivitamins
To find the best of the best, I reviewed dozens of multivitamin brands. While these weren’t crowned as king, they shouldn’t necessarily be rejected from consideration. Some multivitamins had minor drawbacks, like one that contained every property that Centrum had but tasted just awful. Others were missing nutrients and were completely unaffordable. But I understand that Centrum isn’t for everyone, which is why I’ve suggested several alternatives below. If you’re curious why these weren’t chosen as the best, read on.
Nature Made — Nature Made’s multivitamins are a worthy alternative to Centrum. They cost about the same and provide a reasonable amount of key vitamins and minerals. Customer feedback was on par with Centrum, with most exceeding 4 out of 5 stars. Bottles only come with 90 tablets, so you’ll need to reorder more frequently. Centrum got the vote over Nature Made because its formulas are slightly more aligned with the latest dietary guidelines.
One A Day — One A Day is another multivitamin brand that failed to measure up in nutritional quality. It provides decent levels of most vitamins and minerals, but adheres to the older Daily Values rather than the latest DRIs. One A Day came out slightly cheaper than Centrum, averaging between $0.07 and $0.09 per serving. It's received many positive online reviews, and in our survey of the most popular vitamin brands, One A Day was second only to Centrum.
Garden of Life – Garden of Life earned my vote for the best whole-food multivitamin, but it couldn’t steal the top spot from Centrum. These vitamins average around $0.30 per serving, and many formulas require you to take multiple pills to get your daily dose. It didn’t hold up well in the taste test, either, but Garden of Life supplies an adequate amount of key nutrients sourced entirely from whole-food ingredients.
Nature’s Way — Nature’s Way is my pick for the best gummy multivitamins, but its tablets are not as well-formulated. Its Max and Ultra Potency formulas contain higher quantities of vitamins and minerals than your body needs and can absorb, and they’re more expensive.
MegaFood — MegaFood is a good alternative to the best whole-food multivitamin, but it still has many of the same drawbacks as Garden of Life and whole-food vitamins in general: They're expensive, not as well-formulated, and taste like dirt. MegaFood products are dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and vegan, making them a good choice if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Vitafusion — A runner-up for the best gummy multi, Vitafusion is not as nutritionally complete as many of the other vitamin brands on this list. But these gummies taste like real candy without a vitamin-y aftertaste and won’t stick to your teeth. Of course, taking gummies isn’t for everyone either, especially if you’re watching your sugar intake. Vitafusion is great as a prenatal gummy vitamin alternative since Nature’s Way doesn’t offer a prenatal gummy formula.
Choosing the Right Type of Multivitamin for You
The right multivitamin formula for you depends on several factors, including your age, gender, whether or not you’re an expectant mom, and your unique personal preferences. Keeping these things in mind will help to simplify your search for the best multivitamin. As always, if you have a medical condition and you’re unsure if it will affect the kind of multi you take, talk to your doctor first.
Do you even need to take a multivitamin?
This wasn’t a question I thought to ask initially. I assumed that because half of all Americans take multivitamins regularly, there were obvious benefits. But as I dived into this topic, several studies I came across cast doubt on this point of view. When I dug deeper, I found the experts are divided.
A December 2013 Annals of Internal Medicine article stirred this debate. It analyzed recent studies about the benefits and potential harms of multivitamins. The provocatively titled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements” states that, based off currently available research, there is no indication that multivitamins improve your health or prevent chronic disease.
These studies spawned an article in every major newspaper, encouraging consumers to stop shelling out their hard-earned cash on multivitamins. The evidence sounds convincing — if you only read the news articles.
There’s a little more to it than that, though. Methodological flaws in the studies can produce results that aren’t indicative of the truth, and that’s what people over at Life Extension argue happened with the aforementioned studies. It cites low-potency multivitamins, high dropout rates, and a disregard for evidence pointing to the contrary as signs that the answer isn’t as cut-and-dry as the media hype will have you believe.
Somer supports the use of a multivitamin. When asked about the Annals of Internal Medicine article, she said: “On one level, I agree with the findings of these research studies. As the [Stephen] Fortmann study concludes, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer can be reduced solely by taking a supplement. ... But as these three studies found, there is no harm in taking a multi. In fact, it is one of the lowest cost preventive measures we can adopt. I can find no reason not to.”
Take from this what you will. If you don’t want to take a multivitamin, you may not be missing out on much. But if you frequently skip your servings of fruits and vegetables, adding a daily multivitamin isn’t a bad idea to help fill in the gaps.
Men’s and Women’s Multivitamins
Manufacturers make separate men’s and women’s formulas because each gender has slightly different nutritional needs. Men need higher levels of most vitamins and minerals than women because they tend to have bigger bodies, so their multis often contain larger dosages.
Two exceptions to this: iron and folic acid. Women need 18 mg of iron per day to make up for what they lose during menstruation, compared to the 8 mg per day men need. At least 400 mcg of folic acid, or folate as it’s known in its natural form, is also important for women. Deficiencies in this vitamin have been linked to neural-tube defects early on in pregnancy.
Individuals over 50 require different amounts of certain nutrients than their younger counterparts — vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron, in particular. Higher levels of calcium and vitamin D are essential for maintaining strong bones as we age, especially for women who are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
Many 50-plus formulas also include higher levels of vitamin B12 because studies have shown that 10 to 30 percent of older adults have difficulty absorbing this nutrient from food.
Women over 50 need to watch their iron intake, as well. After menopause, a woman’s iron needs drop to the same level as a man’s, which is why most 50-plus formulas leave out iron entirely.
Centrum Flavor Burst Chews
When choosing a kids’ multivitamin, the top concern is obvious: It better taste good. Multivitamins don’t work if they get spit out in the trash. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if your child will like the taste until they try it, so you may have to test a few different brands. Reading customer reviews can point you in the right direction.
But beyond finding a pill they can stomach, you also have to think about nutritional content. Kid’s multis don’t always include the entire array of vitamins and minerals found in an adult supplement. Most commonly, vitamin K and sometimes the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin are missing. If your child eats a reasonably healthy diet, however, he or she shouldn’t have any trouble getting these from food.
Don’t be surprised if your child’s multi doesn’t read 100 percent DV across the board, either. Kids have smaller bodies and therefore require lower quantities of vitamins to stay healthy. Also, don’t worry about separate gender-based formulas at this age — boys’ and girls’ nutritional needs are similar enough.
You have to watch out for things in your child’s vitamin that you may not want there, as well. In an effort to make their products tasty, some manufacturers load up their kids’ multis with a bunch of sugar or artificial sweeteners. A little isn’t a big deal, but you don’t need a lot to create a good-tasting multivitamin. There are also natural sweeteners out there like xylitol and stevia, and these are nice alternatives to sugar or aspartame.
One final consideration is when to start your child on a multi. Somer encourages starting children on a multi during infancy, but others have suggested this may not be a wise move. If you’re unsure how to handle this with your own child, speak to your family pediatrician for further information.
Experts do tend to agree when it comes to upgrading to an adult multi, however. Once your child becomes a teenager, go ahead and switch them over to an adult formula.
|Vitamin or Mineral||Why kids need it||Can also be found in|
|Vitamin A||Promotes normal growth and development, healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses.||Milk, eggs, carrots, yams, squash, and cheese.|
|Vitamin B||Aids metabolism, nervous systems, energy production, and healthy circulatory systems.||Chicken, fish, nuts, beans, eggs, milk, and cheese.|
|Vitamin C||For healthy muscles, connective tissue, and skin.||Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, and green vegetables.|
|Vitamin D||Promotes bone and tooth health and calcium absorption.||Dairy products and fish oil (as well as sunlight).|
|Calcium||Promotes bone health and strength.||Dairy products, milk, cheese, yogurt, and tofu.|
|Iron||Promotes muscle growth and healthy red blood cells.||Red meats, leafy greens, beans, and prunes.|
By age 13 or 14, the vitamin and mineral needs of a teen are close to or exactly the same as an adult’s needs. A moderate-dose, broad-range multi is recommended.
Centrum Specialist Prenatal
Pregnancy ups your requirements for almost every single nutrient. Folic acid and iron — critical nutrients for all women — become even more important during pregnancy. An adequate intake of folic acid helps prevent birth defects in your baby’s neural tube, while iron is essential for avoiding anemia during pregnancy.
Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for maintaining your bone density throughout pregnancy, and helping your baby grow an entirely new set of bones. Most multivitamins won’t provide a complete source of calcium, however, so you may need to invest in an additional supplement.
Be careful of the vitamin-A content, as well. It usually comes in two forms: Preformed vitamin A and beta-carotene, which your body then converts to vitamin A. According to the National Institutes of Health, taking too much vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. This only applies to preformed vitamin A, though, not beta-carotene.
It’s critical to choose a prenatal multi that includes omega-3s. These aren’t part of your standard multivitamin, but they are important for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and eyes, among other things. Most prenatal vitamins include a separate omega-3 capsule to be taken in addition to the multivitamin tablet for this reason.
One last thing to consider when selecting a prenatal multi is when you should begin taking it. Many sources, including the Mayo Clinic, recommend starting these vitamins prior to conception to ensure your baby is getting what they need right from the start.
Multivitamins come in tablet, capsule, liquid, chewable, powder, and gummy forms. According to our survey, tablets and capsules are the most popular, so I focused my research on these types. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, one of the other forms will work better.
There aren’t many significant differences among multivitamins. Liquid and powdered multivitamins absorb faster since there’s no coating to be broken down first, but that doesn’t mean they provide more or higher-quality nutrients. Gummy multis are the newest craze, but most are not as nutritionally complete as traditional multis — and they’re also more expensive and are often loaded with sugar.
Somer advises against gummy vitamins. She suggests putting a powdered supplement into a drink as an alternative.
I have yet to find a well-formulated gummy. Also, I am concerned about the sugary-sticky impact on dentition.
If you do go with a gummy vitamin, I suggest buying it in a store rather than online. I came across one story after another from people who ordered their gummy multivitamin online in the middle of summer only to receive a melted, gelatinous heap of vitamins when they received their package in the mail.
Synthetic Versus Whole Food
Synthetic multivitamins are produced in a lab, while whole-food multivitamins are derived from real fruits and vegetables, often powdered up and put into a pill form. With additional phytonutrients, antioxidants, and trace elements found in real food, and no artificial dyes or chemical fillers, whole food seems like the obvious choice.
But whole food vitamins have drawbacks as well. They’re usually more expensive than their synthetic counterparts and there is debate around whether the vitamins they provide are any healthier. Not to scare you, but ConsumerLab.com also found lead contamination in several whole-food vitamins.
Somer suggests skipping these vitamins altogether and going with a synthetic option. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether whole-food multis are a worthwhile investment or not.
By the time the vitamin C has been extracted out of a rose hip, it is molecularly exactly the same and is absorbed and used exactly the same as ascorbic acid. The ‘whole-food’ supplements cost many times more for no extra value.
As for the chemical fillers and dyes in synthetic multis, they shouldn’t be too big of a concern. These ingredients typically make up less than 2 percent of the multivitamin, and all have been approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Independent organizations, like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), encourage avoiding artificial colorings, though it acknowledges the lack of conclusive evidence to indicate the harm of these additives. In addition, CSPI has found no significant safety issues associated with many of the common chemical additives in vitamins, including stearic acid, silicon dioxide, cellulose, and fumaric acid.
Top Whole-Food Picks
Top Pick for Men's Whole-Food Multivitamin
Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW ONE for Men
Top Pick for Women's Whole-Food Multivitamins
Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW ONE for Women
Top Pick for 50-Plus Whole-Food Multivitamins
MegaFood Men Over 55
MegaFood Women Over 55
Top Pick for Kids' Whole-Food Multivitamins
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Kids
MegaFood Kid’s One Daily
Top Pick for Prenatal Whole-Food Multivitamins
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Prenatal
Vegetarian and Vegan Multis
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you have fewer multivitamin options than someone without these dietary restrictions. As a general rule, if a multivitamin doesn’t explicitly state that it’s vegetarian or vegan, it probably isn’t — don’t assume every one you see is free of any kind of animal products.
What about cost?
“You get what you pay for” just doesn’t seem to apply to multivitamins. A multivitamin that costs $0.85 per serving isn’t necessarily any better than the one that costs $0.07 per serving. In fact, most of the top brands were also among the cheapest I found. Our survey data confirms most people don’t pay a lot for a good multivitamin. Over half the people surveyed (51.8 percent) said they pay less than $50 per year for vitamins.
How much do you spend on multivitamins per year?
What makes a good multivitamin?
Vitamin and Mineral Recommendations
A multivitamin is made up of a number of vitamins and minerals necessary for staying healthy. Somer advises focusing on getting roughly 100 percent DV — and no more than 300 percent DV — of the following essential vitamins and minerals from your daily supplement:
- Vitamin A or beta-carotene
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Folic acid or folate
- Pantothenic acid
- Chromium (50 to 200 mcg)
- Selenium (50 to 200 mcg)
- Manganese (5 mg)
- Molybdenum (75 to 250 mcg)
For vitamins C, D, and E, Somer suggests taking even more than 100 percent Daily Value. More recent research indicates we need larger amounts of these vitamins to stay healthy. Aim for amounts around:
- 250 to 500 mg of vitamin C
- 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D
- 100 to 200 IUs of vitamin E
There are some nutrients that are adequately supplied by diet alone for most people. According to Somer, there’s no need to take them in a supplement. These include:
- Potassium (if you’re getting all daily servings of fruits and vegetables)
5 Bonus Features to Look For
Great taste — This is more important for kids’ formulas, chewable, liquid, and gummy vitamins than for tablets or capsules.
One pill per serving — Because no one wants to choke down six horse pills every day.
Readily available — The multi is conveniently found in most stores that sell multivitamins, as well as with online retailers.
Reasonably priced — You shouldn’t have to spend half your paycheck buying vitamins every month.
USP Verification/NSF Certification — These are voluntary certification programs that assess the safety of the facility and manufacturing processes as well as the contents of the multivitamin itself.
Extra Nutrients You Don't Need
Somer advises avoiding supplements containing many nutrients in quantities less than 25 percent Daily Value. She also advises against extra nutrients with no medical research to support their usefulness, including:
- Vitamin B15
Megamultis — vitamins with quantities significantly above 100 percent Daily Value — are another thing to avoid. Many people seem to have a “more is better” mindset when it comes to multivitamins, but the inverse can be true. Too much of certain vitamins can cause toxicity, so you don’t want to go overboard. Even if it’s not toxic, your body can’t absorb the extra nutrients, so they end up getting flushed down the toilet (literally), along with the money you spent on them.
Don’t buy into energy- or immune-boosting claims, or any vitamins that say they treat specific medical conditions. Most of these are unsubstantiated by medical research, something Somer brought to my attention right away.
Taking a multivitamin is a simple and affordable way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, even on those days when you opt for pizza and a beer over real food. (Although I would suggest not making that an everyday thing.)
Choosing the right multivitamin doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to reputable brands and choose a formula designed for your age and gender. I recommend Centrum, but if you have feedback on some of the lesser-known brands, I’d love to hear it. Or if you have a question about multivitamins I didn’t answer here, let us know!
Our Favorite Multivitamin Reviews From Around the Web
Amazon — You’ll find information here from real people that you won’t find anywhere else, like details on the taste, how easy the pills are to swallow, and whether or not they cause stomach discomfort.
ConsumerLab.com — ConsumerLab.com is an independent testing agency that assesses the safety and quality of supplements.
LabDoor.com — Similar to ConsumerLab.com, LabDoor.com gives you details about label accuracy and ingredient safety for many popular multivitamins.