When choosing a vitamin supplement, it's natural to want to buy a trusted brand, but how do you know which one to pick? Watchdogs of the supplement industry independently test products to help provide guidance on which brands consistently produce high-quality products. Some companies also obtain certification to assure consumers that their products adhere to the highest quality standards. Checking into test ratings and reading labels for certifications is a good place to start when choosing a dietary supplement.
Top Consumer-Rated Brands
ConsumerLab.com conducts an annual survey to get feedback from its subscribers about how satisfied they are with vitamins and supplements they use. Based on 10,326 responses the site collected in November 2013, Swanson, Nutrilite, TruNature and Vitafusion achieved top rankings for overall customer satisfaction. Other top-rated brands according to the survey are Walgreens, Kroger, Vitamin Shoppe and Natural Factors. These brands make a variety of vitamins and supplements available at drugstores and health stores alike.
LabDoor Top-Rated Brands
LabDoor sent 75 multivitamin supplements to an independent lab to test for qualities such as purity, potency and artificial coloring. Some products contained less of certain vitamins than claimed, and some contained artificial coloring, but all passed the heavy metal test. LabDoor rated the multivitamins based on the analysis, and vitamins from Carlson Labs, Nature's Way, NOW Foods, Garden of Life, MusclePharm, Rainbow Light and Irving Naturals landed on the top-rated list, receiving a solid "A" rating.
High-Quality, Cost-Effective Store Brands
Consumer Reports tested 21 multivitamins at two independent labs and found that store brands did just as well under rigorous testing as national brands, but at a lower price. Using this information, they ranked high-quality supplements based on price so that consumers have affordable go-to options. Brands that came out on top, all costing less than $2 for a monthly supply, were: Costco, Walmart, Dollar General, Target, Rite Aid and CVS. These store brands are the most affordable without sacrificing quality, according to the report.
Several independent organizations offer voluntary certification programs for supplement manufacturers. These organizations use their own stringent quality standards -- in addition to the standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- called current Good Manufacturing Practices. Look for brands that have certification labels from organizations like the Natural Products Association, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention and the NSF as an indication of high-quality brands. The labels may read "USP Verified," "NPA Certified" or "NSF Certified."
- ConsumerLab.com: Top-rated Vitamin and Supplement Brands and Merchants for 2014 Based on Consumer Satisfaction
- LabDoor: Top 10 Multivitamins
- Consumer Reports: Multivitamin Ratings
- Natural Products Association: NPA GMP Certification Program
- U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention: Verification Services
- NSF: Dietary Supplements GMP Registration
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Dietary Supplement Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) and Interim Final Rule (IFR) Facts