Most of the time, your doctor or dietitian will tell you that you should be getting all the nutrients you need from eating a wide variety of healthy food. But in certain cases, supplementation to your diet might be necessary, so in those cases, you want to find the best vitamin brands on the market.
Unfortunately, there's no definitive list of the top vitamin companies out there. That doesn't mean you can't make an informed decision. By carefully considering a few important facts about the supplement industry and listening to some wisdom from your doctor, you can find the best vitamin brands that fit your needs.
Why Take Vitamins?
Before you make any choice, consider why you're taking a multivitamin or supplement in the first place. You might fall into certain categories of people who need supplements because they can't meet their nutritional needs through diet alone.
This would be people who are on a low-calorie or calorie-restricted diet, or people with food restrictions like vegetarians or those with celiac disease. There are also people who have increased nutritional needs, such as women who are pregnant or patients who are recovering from sickness or injury.
Looking at the Market
It's important to remember there is no standard for dietary supplements. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve supplements for safety or efficacy before they hit the market, although it does set Good Manufacturing Practices, which encompass requirements for preparation and storage of supplements.
Even if you see the words "standardized," "verified" or "certified," you can't take anything for granted — these words are not regulated by U.S. law and do not guarantee product quality or consistency, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Supplements include vitamins and minerals, but they can also encompass other things like herbs, botanicals, amino acids and enzymes. They might come in the form of tablets or capsules, or you can buy them as a powder, a pre-mixed drink and even energy bars. All supplements are required to have a Supplement Facts label spelling out all their contents and ingredients, including fillers, binders and flavorings.
When you're on the hunt for a good multivitamin, there are certain products out there that are marketed for specific demographics based on age or gender. A men's multivitamin might be lower in iron than a woman's multivitamin, which would have extra iron as well as extra calcium.
Multivitamins marketed toward seniors would have less iron and vitamin K but extra vitamin B12 and vitamin D. While you're seeking the best vitamin brands, try to find a company that makes a product that's right for your specific needs.
Finding the Best Supplement Brands
When you're shopping for supplements, the National Institutes of Health acknowledges that you will likely make your decision based on price, quality and availability. You can also get a recommendation from your doctor.
If you're doing research on the top vitamin companies and best supplement brands, there are ways for you to make informed choices as a consumer.
The Food and Drug Administration encourages you to do your research on reliable, noncommercial websites instead of getting your information from the manufacturers or distributors who are trying to sell you the product. You should never believe something that sounds too good to be true, such as claims that a supplement is more effective than medicine or that something has no side effects.
If you find one of the best supplement brands that looks as if it could meet your needs, the National Institutes of Health has tips on how to do your research. Call the manufacturing company and ask them a few questions. First, find out what information exists to support health claims — and be sure to look beyond reviews from so-called satisfied customers, which could be made up.
Find out whether the manufacturer has any results on the safety and efficacy of the product, and what practices they follow to ensure the safety and quality of the supplements they make. Finally, ask whether they have had any negative feedback from consumers.
There are a few independent organizations that will give their approval of supplements based on whether the product contains the ingredients it lists on the label and whether the product is free of contaminants. Such organizations include ConsumerLab, NSF and USP. The approval of these organizations, however, doesn't necessarily mean that the supplement is effective.
Checking the Database
Another method for finding the best vitamin brands is to compare all of them with the help of the Dietary Supplement Label Database, an online resource with label information from many supplement products made by the top vitamin companies on the U.S. market.
You or your doctor can search the database by ingredient, manufacturer and even things like certain text on the label or specific health-related claims. The database lists contact information for distributors and manufacturers, so you can reach out to them directly.
For example, if you search "vitamin C," you can find more than 900 products for vitamin C supplementation and compare their ingredients, suggested dosage and other details. All this information can help doctors know exactly what is in the product their patients are taking and how it compares to the other best supplement brands.
Other Good Reminders
As you go about seeking the best supplement brands, there are a few other pointers you can keep in mind. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health explains that generic brands or store brands are usually just as good as the name brand version of a dietary supplement, and that man-made synthetic vitamins are just as good as natural ones.
Additionally, the National Institute on Aging notes that you should avoid supplements with ingredients you don't need, and you should remember that just because a supplement has a higher dosage of a nutrient, that doesn't necessarily mean it's the better choice for you.
So even if there isn't some secret list of all the top vitamin brands out there on the market, that doesn't mean you can't make an informed choice. Remember that talking to your doctors is especially important not only because their guidance can be the most beneficial but also because the supplements you're taking might interfere with other medications they have you prescribed to take.
- National Institutes of Health: “Frequently Asked Questions”
- National Institutes of Health: “Dietary Supplement Label Database”
- Food and Drug Administration: “What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements”
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: “Choosing a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement”
- National Institute on Aging: “Dietary Supplements”