The Truth About Mainstream Multivitamins

Updated: Sep 19

Everywhere we go, there are toxins. We live in a toxin-filled world. Unfortunately, it's hard to decipher what products possess toxins. Sometimes, toxins are lingering in the least expected places - for instance, multivitamins that are advertised as healthy.

Diets aren’t perfect, so most people consider taking a multivitamin.


Did you know that in 2007 Americans spent 23 billion dollars on vitamin and mineral supplementation(1)?

Yet, there are no standard or regulatory definitions available for multivitamins that assure us what nutrients they should have and at what levels.


Actually, according to the Food & Drug Administration:

"FDA regulations require that certain information appear on dietary supplement labels. Information that must be on a dietary supplement label includes: a descriptive name of the product stating that it is a "supplement;" the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; a complete list of ingredients; and the net contents of the product. In addition, each dietary supplement (except for some small volume products or those produced by eligible small businesses) must have nutrition labeling in the form of a "Supplement Facts" panel. This label must identify each dietary ingredient contained in the product (2)."

The lack of regulations means that a company can tell you, you are getting, let's say, vitamin C, but in reality, it's not much and is synthetically made.


Supplements are easy enough to come by, but unfortunately, most of the common vitamins and supplements found at drug stores are synthetic, artificial, dye, and sugar-filled junk.


The "Very Best" Multivitamins

Toxic Ingredients Found In Mainstream Multivitamins

Natural Multivitamin Recommendations

 

The Very Best Multivitamins

Did you see New York Mag's article The Very Best Multivitamins published in 2022? This article featured 9 multivitamins ranked by third-party certifications, easily absorbable ingredients, designs for specific needs, type of vitamins, and daily dose. Many of the brands mentioned have unnecessary and toxic ingredients that can be detrimental to your health. Aside from those harmful ingredients, do you know what else is in the "very best" multivitamins? What about the dangers associated with those ingredients? We are going to take a closer look into each of these specific multivitamins and their ingredients. Then we will take an even closer look at why these ingredients are toxic to us.


1. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Multivitamin for Women

Ingredients: Raw Organic Fruit & Vegetable Blend: Organic Apple (Fruit), Organic Beet (Root), Organic Broccoli (Stalk & Flower), Organic Carrot (Root), Organic Spinach (Leaf), Organic Tomato (Fruit), Organic Strawberry (Fruit), Organic Tart Cherry (Fruit), Organic Sea Kelp, Organic Blackberry (Fruit), Organic Green Bell Pepper (Fruit), Organic Brussels Sprout (Leaf), Organic Blueberry (Fruit), Organic Ginger (Root), Organic Garlic (Bulb), Organic Green Onion (Bulb), Organic Raspberry (Fruit), Organic Parsley (Leaf), Organic Cauliflower (Flower & Stem), Organic Red Cabbage (Leaf), Organic Kale (Leaf), Organic Cucumber (Gourd), Organic Celery (Stalk), Organic Asparagus (Flower & Stem). Raw Probiotic & Enzyme Blend: Lipase, Protease, Aspergillopepsin, Beta-Glucanase, Cellulase, Bromelain, Phytase, Lactase, Papain, Peptidase, Pectinase, Hemicellulase, Xylanase, [Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Plantarum]. Raw Antioxidant & Immune Support Complex: Glutathione & SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) from Culture of S. cerevisiae.


Other Ingredients: Vegetable cellulose (capsule), organic potato starch, organic gum arabic.


My Overall Rating: 9/10; great ingredients, everything is organic, my only complaint is gum arabic.


2. Ritual Essential for Women

Ingredients: Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol), Folate (6S-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, Glucosamine Salt), Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin), Iron (Ferrous Bisglycinate), Magnesium (Chelated DiMagnesium Malate), Omega-3 Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Boron (Calcium Fructoborate), Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone -7).


Other Ingredients: Beadlets (Cellulose, Non-GMO Corn Zein), Stomach Acid-Resistant Vegan Capsule (Hypromellose, Gellan Gum), Silica.


My Overall Rating: 4/10; not the best ingredients, everything is synthetic, but the additives aren't as toxic as other brands.


3. Nature Made Multivitamin For Him

Ingredients: Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Biotin (B7), Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K.


Other Ingredients: Cellulose Gel, Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Croscarmellose Sodium, Hypromellose, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Gelatin, Polyethylene Glycol.


My Overall Rating: 2/10; everything is synthetic. It's brimming with toxins and unnecessary fillers.


4. One A Day Men’s 50+ Healthy Advantage Multivitamin

Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid, Croscarmellose Sodium, Zinc Oxide, Dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate.


Less than 2% of: Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Cholecalciferol, Chromium Chloride, Cupric Oxide, Cyanocobalamin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, FD&C Blue #1 Lake, FD&C Blue #2 Lake, Folic Acid, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Lycopene, Manganese Sulfate, Niacinamide, Phytonadione, Polyethylene Glycol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenite, Stearic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Titanium Dioxide (color), Vitamin A Acetate.


My Overall Rating: 1/10; everything is synthetic. It has more toxins and unnecessary fillers than actual vitamins.


5. One A Day Women’s 50+ Healthy Advantage Multivitamin

Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Oxide, Maltodextrin, Zinc Oxide, Dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Croscarmellose Sodium.


Less than 2% of: Artificial Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Cholecalciferol, Chromium Chloride, Cupric Oxide, Cyanocobalamin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, FD&C Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Manganese Sulfate, Niacinamide, Phytonadione, Polyethylene Glycol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenite, Stearic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Vitamin A Acetate.


My Overall Rating: 1/10; everything is synthetic. It has more toxins and unnecessary fillers than actual vitamins.


6. Pure Encapsulations - Nutrient 950 - Hypoallergenic Multivitamin/Mineral Formula

Ingredients: Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (D-Alpha Tocopherol Succinate), Thiamin (Thiamin HCI), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2

28% and Riboflavin 5' Phosphate), Niacin (Niacinamide 86mg and 42% Inositol Hexaniacinate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCI 20.5 mg and 39% Pyridoxal 5' Phosphate), Folate (MetafolinL-5-MTHF), Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin), Biotin, Pantothenic Acid (Calcium Pantothenate), Calcium (Calcium Citrate), Iron (Iron Glycinate), Iodine (Potassium Iodine), Magnesium (Magnesium Citrate), Zinc (Zinc Picolinate), Selenium (Selenomethionine), Copper (Copper Glycinate), Manganese (Manganese Aspartate), Chromium (Chromium Polynicotinate), Molybdenum (Molybdenum Aspartate), Potassium (Potassium Aspartate), Boron (Boron Glycinate), Vanadium (Vanadium Aspartate), Proprietary Mixed Carotenoid Blend (Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene).


Other Ingredients: Vegetarian Capsule, Ascorbyl Palmitate.


My Overall Rating: 5/10; everything is synthetic. But there are no fillers or unnecessary junk.


7. Thorne Research Basic Nutrients 2/Day

Ingredients: Vitamin A (450 mcg from Beta Carotene and 600 mcg as Palmitate) 1.05 mg, Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 250 mg, Vitamin D (as Vitamin D3) (2,000 IU) 50 mcg, Vitamin E (as d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acid Succinate) 16.5 mg, Vitamin K (200 mcg as Vitamin K1 and 200 mcg as Vitamin K2 as MK-4) 400 mcg, Thiamin (as Thiamin HCl) 50 mg, Riboflavin (as Riboflavin 5'-Phosphate Sodium) 12 mg, Niacin (as Niacinamide) 80 mg, Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal 5'-Phosphate) 20 mg, Folate (400 mcg as L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate from L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolic Acid, Glucosamine Salt) 667 mcg DFE, Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin) 600 mcg, Biotin 500 mcg, Pantothenic Acid (as Calcium Pantothenate) 45 mg, Calcium (as TRAACS Calcium Bisglycinate Chelate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Laurate, Calcium Pantothenate) 52 mg, Iodine (as Potassium Iodide) 75 mcg, Magnesium (as TRAACS Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate) 20 mg, Zinc (as TRAACS Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate) 15 mg, Selenium (as L-Selenomethionine) 200 mcg, Copper (as TRAACS Copper Bisglycinate Chelate) 750 mcg, Manganese (as TRAACS Manganese Bisglycinate Chelate) 3 mg, Chromium (as TRAACS Chromium Nicotinate Glycinate Chelate) 400 mcg, d-Gamma Tocopherol (from Mixed Tocopherols) 24 mg, Boron (as Bororganic Boron Glycinate Complex) 2 mg, Lutein (from Aztec Marigold extract (flower) (Tagetes erecta)) 140 mcg.


Other Ingredients: Hypromellose (Derived from Cellulose) Capsule, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Laurate.


My Overall Rating: 4/10; everything is synthetic, but it isn't brimming with fillers.


8. Nature Made Multivitamin + Omega-3 Gummies

Ingredients: Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin), Vitamin A (Retinyl Acetate), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E (D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Niacin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Folate (Folic Acid), Zinc (Zinc Citrate), Sodium, Fish Oil, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Water, Gelatin, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Calcium Lactate, Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Colors Added, Tocopherols.


My Overall Rating: 2/10; everything is synthetic. It's brimming with toxins and unnecessary fillers.


9. Honibe Complete Adult Multivitamin

Ingredients: Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Biotin.


Other Ingredients: Honey, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Water, Natural Raspberry Flavour, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Colours (fruit & vegetable juice), Carnauba Wax (Vegetable Oil).


My Overall Rating: 4/10; not the best ingredients, everything is synthetic, but the additives aren't as toxic as other brands.


Toxic Ingredients Found In Mainstream Multivitamins

Most “multivitamins” are purified, extracted, and synthetic (often with additives). They also have mega-doses of vitamins and minerals that cannot adequately absorb, throwing off the nutrient balance.


For about 1 in every 3 people, synthetic vitamins, especially folic acid, are a concern. This is due to having one copy of the MethyleneTetraHydroFolate Reductase (MTHFR) gene mutation. Roughly 1 in every 10 people has two copies of the MTHFR gene mutation.


According to My Doctor Online:

"Folate supplements are the synthetic (man-made) forms of folate. The most common folate supplement is folic acid but there are also folic acid derivatives. These are a form of folic acid with slight chemical differences to make them easier for the body to absorb. If you do not get enough folate in the foods you eat, taking folic acid or a folic acid derivative makes sure your body has enough folate. Many breads and cereals have been fortified with folic acid (3)."

Additionally, every vitamin and mineral has an 'agonist' and an 'antagonist' in the body - usually several. Take a look at the daily value percentages in vitamin blends. They are often pretty high. When someone takes a regular mega-dose of one nutrient (such as mainstream synthetic options), it causes the body to have high levels of that nutrient, PLUS all of the agonists. It causes deficiencies in all of the antagonists, meaning it doesn't help our bodies. For example, calcium and magnesium compete for absorption in the body. Taking way too much calcium can lead to a magnesium deficiency.


No nutrient is more important than another (generally speaking); we need all of them to be healthy in the right amounts. Additionally, they need to be bio-available for efficient absorption.


Some ingredients to look out for in multivitamins include:

  • Citric Acid is naturally occurring in oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits and is perfectly safe. Citric Acid also naturally occurs in Aspergillus niger, also known as black mold (4). Health problems associated with this type of mold include respiratory infections, allergic reactions, and inflamed lungs (5).

  • Food Coloring & Dye have been linked to neurological disorders like ADHD, cancer, allergies, learning disabilities, irritability, and aggressiveness (6). According to Michael Greger M.D. FACLM:

“Due to cancer concerns, Red dye #1 was banned in 1961. Red #2 was banned in 1976, and Red #4 was banned soon after. But what about Red No. 3, used today in everything from sausage to maraschino cherries? It was found to cause DNA damage in human liver cells in vitro, comparable to the damage caused by a chemotherapy drug whose whole purpose is to break down DNA, but Red No. 3 was also found to influence children’s behavior over 30 years ago and to interfere with thyroid function over 40 years ago (7).

To learn more about the risks associated with consuming food coloring, check out my The Truth About Food Coloring blog here.

  • Gelatin is a protein sourced by the boiling of cow, pig, or fish's skin, tendon, cartridge, ligament, and/or bone in water (8). Although this isn’t an issue for most, vegans, vegetarians, and those who keep a kosher household should avoid this ingredient! According to WebMD, gelatin supplements or supplements with gelatin can cause upset stomach, burping, bloating, and allergic reaction. Additionally, some experts worry that Gelatin has a risk of being contaminated with certain animal diseases and that they aren’t sure if it’s safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women or children (9).

  • Maltodextrin is a white powder normally made from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat. Even though it comes from plants, it’s highly processed and filled with starches, another thing diabetics and prediabetics are supposed to decrease their consumption of. Maltodextrin is actually closely related to corn syrup and high on the glycemic index, meaning it will, in fact, cause a spike in your blood sugar (10). It’s also considered a carbohydrate and should be included in your daily carbohydrate count! For those that aren’t diabetic and need a reason to say no to this ingredient:

“According to a 2012 study published in PLoS ONE, maltodextrin can change your gut bacteria composition in a way that makes you more susceptible to disease. It can suppress the growth of probiotics in your digestive system, which are important for immune system function. The same study showed that maltodextrin can increase the growth of bacteria such as E. coli, which is associated with autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease. If you’re at risk for developing an autoimmune or digestive disorder, then avoiding maltodextrin may be a good idea (11).”
  • Natural Flavors sound great, but the FDA hasn't officially defined this term. Natural Flavors can describe almost any type of food if the source is a plant or animal. Natural Flavors are used to enhance the taste of a product and are a blanket term for a slew of potential ingredients. Ingredients may include spices, fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, vegetable juice, edible yeast, herbs, bark, buds, root leaves, plant material, dairy products, fermented products, meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs (12).

  • Polyethylene Glycol is an active ingredient in laxatives like MiraLAX. Polyethylene Glycol has a long list of side effects, including bloating, gas, upset stomach, dizziness, increased sweating, abdominal distension and pain, borborygmi, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal cramping, perianal inflammation and soreness, allergic reaction, severe or bloody diarrhea, rectal bleeding, blood in your stool, and severe or worsening stomach pains (13).

  • Sugar is problematic. A 2015 study found that 30.3 million Americans have diabetes and another 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes (14). Diabetics and prediabetes are supposed to decrease their sugar intake because it can increase their blood sugar and insulin levels (15). With 4g of sugar per serving of this vitamin and the average American consuming 13.3 teaspoons of sugar daily, this is just too much sugar for those with such a serious medical condition (16).

To learn more regarding The Truth About Greenwashing and a longer list of toxins that may be found in greenwashed multivitamin products click here.

Natural Multivitamin Recommendations

At Earthley, they can ensure your multivitamins are 100% natural and organic despite not being regulated. Earthley's herbal multivitamin products are different because they're made by extracting whole herbs in sustainable vegetable glycerin. These herbal multivitamins provide nutrients in the proper amounts your body can absorb. Use the power of nature rather than isolated mega-doses (which can create imbalances in the body).

Additionally, all herbal multivitamin options are free from artificial colors, natural or artificial flavors, major allergens, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, magnesium stearate, fillers, binders, potassium sorbet, sodium benzoate, xanthan gum, folic acid, and synthetic vitamins while also being vegan-friendly and MTHFR-safe!


Remember, men and women have very different bodies, hormones, and nutrient needs so your multivitamin should reflect that too.

  • Nourish Her Naturally was formulated specifically for women, Nourish Her Naturally is an herbal multivitamin made to fortify, improve, and nurture the female body. This tincture includes herbs that are packed with vitamins and minerals to help balance hormones, boost energy levels, and promote overall wellness.

  • Nourish Him Naturally was curated with a man’s specific needs in mind! Earthley uses herbs to support heart health, prostate health, and energy levels to make this vitamin powerhouse. You could see improvement in overall health and wellness through this natural and organic herbal supplement!

  • Nourish Me Naturally is for everyone. This herbal multivitamin is the organic way to help your body get the nutrients it needs. Don’t guess what you need or take megadoses of the wrong things. Use a multivitamin formulated with herbs that have natural levels of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. This creates a source of nourishment that your body can fully absorb and use! You can even take it on an empty stomach.

What's your go-to natural multivitamin?


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