The premise of a multivitamin is simple. A supplement that combines all the extra nourishment you need in a handy once-a-day dose. So, why is it so difficult to choose the right one? Here we explain more about the role of these supplements to help you work out what’s the best multivitamin for you.
What are multivitamins?
Multivitamins are supplements that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. They come in a baffling array of vitamin and mineral combinations and formats. There are vegan multivitamins, multivitamins for kids, chewy multivitamins, and effervescent ones that fizz. There are even Peppa Pig multivitamins for fans of the animated hog.
Should I take a multivitamin?
There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are vital to your wellness.1 It’s completely feasible to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need by eating. a healthy, balanced diet.2 However, a daily multivitamin is a convenient way to bridge any nutritional gaps when your diet isn’t providing enough of everything you need.
There are also certain groups of people that are more at risk of deficiencies. For example, if you follow a meat-free diet taking a vegetarian multivitamin may help to increase your intake of some vital nutrients that are typically obtained from meat. And there are also certain times in your life when your wellness may benefit from a supplement of specific vitamins and minerals.
How to choose the right multivitamin
The exact nutritional content varies significantly between individual products and brands. Your decision on what supplement you need will depend on:
- Your age. You may need more or less of a nutrient depending on your age. For example, those entering their 50s may wish to start taking vitamins that maintain normal bones.
- Your diet. Consider the nutritional value of what you eat. Do you have a diet that’s low or high in certain foods? For example, if you’re vegetarian, a multivitamin with B12 provides an extra supplement of a nutrient commonly found in non-vegetarian food sources.3
- Immune status. For example, if you’re looking to support your immune system, maybe choose a multivitamin with zinc.
- Your health goals. Do you want more energy? Consider whether low iron could be feeding your fatigue. Or if you want to improve your sleep patterns, look for vitamin B6 in the ingredients.
If you have specific health concerns, please seek medical advice first.
3 situations when a daily multivitamin can help
The Department of Health and Social Care particularly recommends supplements in three situations. Folic acid during pregnancy, vitamin D during the autumn and winter, and a daily dose of vitamin A, C and D during early childhood.4
Pregnancy multivitamin with folic acid
If you’re planning for pregnancy, it’s recommended you take folic acid for two to three months before you conceive and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. So, look for a pregnancy multivitamin that includes your RDA of this important mineral.
Multivitamin with vitamin D
During the autumn and winter, it’s harder to get all the vitamin D you need through sunlight on your skin and from eating a balanced diet. Because it's difficult to get enough of this vitamin from food alone, taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D helps tackle the deficiency.
Multivitamins for kids
The guidance recommends that children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamins A, C and D.
What multivitamin is right for you?
To make taking a supplement part of your daily routine, you need to find a type that you will want to take consistently. Here are five common forms:5
- Tablets and capsules. They’re quick, convenient and easy to take on the go. But some people find them difficult to swallow.
- These are more often used for oil or liquid-based supplements. They can be easier to swallow than capsules or tablets.
- Chewable tablets. Multivitamin gummies offer a more pleasant way for children to take supplements. Adult versions are also available.
- Liquid multivitamins. These are a great alternative for those who have difficulty swallowing pills or chewing.
- Effervescent. These fizzy solutions can promote rapid absorption. They also avoid any difficulty swallowing large pills.6
9 of the best multivitamins
Here is a selection of multivitamins that could offer benefits to specific groups of people.
- Multivitamins for kids: Holland & Barrett Healthy Kids Multivitamins
- Baby multivitamin: Holland & Barrett Baby Multivitamin Liquid Juicy Orange
- Multivitamin for women: Together Health WholeVits Woman's MultiVit
- Vegan multivitamin: Holland & Barrett Vegan Multivitamin & Mineral
- Multivitamin for men: Holland & Barrett Ultra Man Multivitamin Caplets
- Best multivitamin for women over 50: Vitabiotics Wellwoman 50+
- Pregnancy multivitamin: Holland & Barrett During Pregnancy Complete Dual Pack
- Teen multivitamin: Holland & Barrett Teen Fizz Effervescent Tablets
- Multivitamin for immunity: Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin C & Zinc Effervescent Tablets
Summary: Find what’s best for you
With thousands of products on the market, the process of choosing the best supplement can be overwhelming. The key is to consider your age, carefully assess gaps in your diet, and think about your lifestyle and health goals. But most importantly, remember that whatever the potency of a supplement, it’s shouldn’t replace a healthy diet.
Last updated: 8 March 2021