Multivitamins with the fewest additives and contaminants

I've been reluctant to make a multivitamin page for a few reasons:

  1. Research on the benefits of multivitamins is more mixed than you might think, often showing little or no advantage long-term.
  2. I think it's worth experimenting to find out which individual vitamins and minerals benefit you. Dietary tools like CRON-O-Meter can help identify deficiencies in your everyday diet, and sites like Examine.com, CureTogether, Earth Clinic, and the Ray Peat community can generate ideas for which supplements might be worth trying for different health conditions.
  3. Individual vitamin and mineral supplements make it easier to target different ratios, times of day (vitamin D may be best in the morning, for example), and meal-compatibility (some vitamins are better absorbed with fat, or away from other nutrients, for example). Multivitamins have no choice but to deliver everything at once in the same pill.
  4. If you're a health nerd like I am, individual vitamins and minerals make it easier to choose the ideal form for the health issue you want to address, and also give you more options on how it's delivered (pill, powder, or liquid).

However, multivitamins are my most-requested topic by far, and I understand some people just want to cover their bases and move on with life! So I did my usual ingredient-level analysis and compared it to the lab-testing results from LabDoor, a company that purchases off-the-shelf supplements and tests them for labeling accuracy and contaminants.

I made some judgment calls that you may want to override for your particular preferences:

  1. Preferring "men's" multivitamins (which include minimal or no iron) for both men and women (I believe it's a bad idea to get extra iron in your diet unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, even in women). They may also include less folic acid, which women may want to supplement separately for healthy pregnancy.
  2. Avoiding added polyunsaturated fats (like omega 3 fatty acids), which I think should be intentionally managed separately.
  3. Having a mild preference for natural / food-derived sources as opposed to synthetic.

My conclusions:

General purpose, no-excipient recommendations

Garden of Life brand comes out ahead of other brands on the preferences I listed above, along with avoiding excipients and passing LabDoor's tests. The first product is their more complete, more expensive option. The second is their more affordable one-a-day option.

Photo of Garden of Life Vitamin Code (Men's Formula)
Garden of Life Vitamin Code (Men's Formula)
Available on iHerb
Positives:
  • "men's" formula excludes added iron
  • food-derived
  • avoids the excipients I usually find in supplement ingredients
Negatives:
  • expensive (about $1.50 a day if you take the full 4 pills per day, compared to $0.30/day for the Raw ONE variant below)
All ingredients:

LabDoor's testing gives it an A rating: average label accuracy (vitamin B3 and D content were too high), excellent purity (passed heavy metal tests), very good nutritional value, and excellent ingredient safety.

Photo of Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw ONE (Men's Formula)
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw ONE (Men's Formula)
Available on iHerb
Positives:
  • "men's" formula excludes added iron
  • food-derived
  • avoids the excipients I usually find in supplement ingredients
Negatives:
(none)
All ingredients:

LabDoor's testing gives it an A- rating: average label accuracy (folic acid content was too high), excellent purity (passed heavy metal tests), very good nutritional value, and excellent ingredient safety.

More-targeted recommendation

If you don't mind narrowing in on fewer vitamins, I like IdeaLabs' Energin (a B-vitamin ethanol solution) and EstroBan (a vitamin A, D, E, and K oil). LabDoor has not analyzed these (Energin is a very small operation), but I trust Haidut, the person in charge of making them. He happily answers questions about manufacturing (and why he chose each particular ratio and form of vitamin) on RayPeatForum.

Photo of IdeaLabs Energin and EstroBan
IdeaLabs Energin and EstroBan
Available from IdeaLabs
Positives:
  • more-carefully-selected nutrients (just vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, D3, E, and K2)
  • liquid form for arbitrary dosage and the option of absorbing them through your skin
Negatives:
  • expensive (around $1.33 a day if you take both products)
All ingredients:
  • Energin: thiamine HCL (vitamin B1), 50 mg per serving, riboflavin 5' phosphate (vitamin B2), 20 mg per serving, niacinamide (vitamin B3), 100 mg per serving, pyrodoxine 5' phosphate (vitamin B6), 6 mg per serving, 20% ethanol solution.
  • EstroBan: vitamin A (currently retinyl palmitate, which will be replaced with retinyl acetate when it's back in stock), 5,000IU per serving, vitamin D3, 1,000IU per serving, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols, so it contains alpha, beta, gamma, and delta), 200IU per serving, vitamin K2 (menatetrenone, MK-4), 2mg per serving, organic olive oil, organic coconut oil.

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