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General Questions About Multivitamins
What is a multivitamin?
A multivitamin is any product that contains 3 or more vitamins in amounts below established tolerable upper limits that can help minimize risk of deficiency. However, because most commercially available multivitamin supplements also include one or more minerals, multivitamins may also be referred to as multivitamin/mineral (or MVM) supplements.
Given that no standard definition is available for an MVM supplement—such as what nutrients it must contain and at what levels— MVM products by different brands vary greatly in terms of composition and characteristics. While some products only contain vitamins, others may include minerals and/or other value-added ingredients (e.g. botanicals, specialty ingredients).
What are % Daily Values?
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine establish RDAs or “Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA),” which are the average daily intake of nutrients sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people. The FDA relies on these RDAs to set the Percent Daily Value (or % DV) on supplement and nutrition labels as a “guide to the nutrients in one serving of food.” For example, if a supplement label lists 10% DV for vitamin E, it means that, at the recommended dosage, one serving of the supplement will provide 10% of the vitamin E you need each day. It must be noted that ‘Percent DVs’ are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults, but the DVs can be used as a guide even if your diet is higher or lower than 2,000 calories. To be on the safer side, opt for a multivitamin that provides the nutrients essential for maintaining good health in amounts that don’t exceed established tolerable upper limits.
Where do the nutrients (vitamins, minerals) in a multivitamin come from?
The nutrients in a multivitamin may either be (1) synthesized using industrial chemicals and solvents; or (2) derived from natural food ingredients. For example, the synthetic vitamin B3 (niacin) that is present in the vast majority of commercially available multivitamin supplements is created in a lab using coal tar derivatives, 3-cyanopyridine, and ammonia. However, there are a small number of brands, including NutriGold, that provide vitamin B3 from natural food sources (e.g. holy basil).
Be wary of brands that advertise their multivitamin products as being “food-based” or use the term “food” indiscriminately to describe products that are primarily made using synthetic vitamins mixed in with nutritional yeast or other food powders. Products that provide nutrients naturally derived “from” food are not the same as products that provide synthetic nutrients “mixed in” with food powders or products that are made by fortifying “nutritional yeast” with synthetic vitamins.
What is the difference between synthetic (lab-made) and natural vitamins?
At NutriGold, we define “synthetic” vitamins as man-made vitamins that are created in a lab using industrial chemicals and solvents and “natural” vitamins as vitamins that are extracted, concentrated, or otherwise derived from natural food sources. The primary difference between lab-made vitamins and natural vitamins is that vitamins that occur in nature are present as food-vitamin complexes along with related co-factors, whereas synthetic vitamins that are created in a lab are isolated, fractionated, purified, and are not always structurally similar to vitamins that occurs in nature. Synthetic vitamins do not have the necessary cofactors for their proper utilization by the body; the body has to reconstruct the vitamins using its own reserve of cofactors, and this can, over time, lead to inadvertent nutrient depletion. Furthermore, synthetic vitamins are often made using petrochemical byproducts and industrial solvents that may not be fit for long-term use.
Additionally, nutrients derived from natural sources also do not produce the metallic aftertaste and/or digestive discomfort commonly associated with the use of products made using synthetic vitamins. We invite you to review the information we have compiled to support our position against the use of synthetic vitamins on our website at: https://nutrigold.com/pages/synthetics
How can I tell if a vitamin or mineral is from a natural source or a synthetic source?
The lack of standardization in the composition of multivitamin products by different brands and substantive differences in the terminology used by brands to describe their multivitamin products has contributed, in large part, to the confusion consumers experience when trying to make a multivitamin purchasing decision.
If you are in the market for a multivitamin product and want to know if the nutrients in the product are synthetic or natural, take a close look at the supplement facts panel on the label of the multivitamin product and rely on these general rules of thumb when making your purchasing decision —
- Nutrient sources not listed — if the source of the nutrient is not listed in parentheses next to each of the nutrients on the label, it is likely that the nutrient is synthetic (lab-made)
- Nutrient sources may be listed and include yeast (S. cerevisiae) — if nutritional yeast or S. cerevisiae appears next to the nutrient or anywhere on the label, or if the terms, ‘cultured’ or ‘fermented’ or ‘matrix’ appear anywhere on the label or in descriptions of the product on the label, chances are the product contains synthetic vitamins in some amount.
- Note: Even if we set aside the question of whether or not this ‘culturing’ or ‘fermenting’ process can make synthetic, lab-made vitamins more similar to nutrients from natural foods, the fact remains that the process starts with synthetic, lab-made vitamins and, in most cases, ends with fortifying the yeast blend with more synthetic vitamins to ensure that the product provides the amounts declared on the label.
- Nutrient sources are listed and they are foods — more likely than not that the nutrient is from a natural source.
When in doubt, always reach out to the manufacturer of the multivitamin and ask the following questions — “Are synthetic or lab-made nutrients used at any point during the production of your multivitamin product, either as starting materials, as intermediates, or to fortify the finished product?” The answer you receive in response to this question (or even the absence of a response) should help you make the purchasing decision that best meets your requirements.
How do I know if I need to take a multivitamin?
Most of the nutrients in multivitamin supplements are considered essential because the human body cannot produce them on its own; they must be consumed from food and/or dietary supplements. Evidence from human research clearly shows both that a significant proportion of the populations of developed countries suffer from deficiencies or insufficiencies in essential vitamins. At minimum, a multivitamin should contain the nutrients essential for bridging dietary gaps in amounts that don't exceed established tolerable upper limits.
When possible, it is always recommended that you get your essential nutrients from fresh, minimally-processed, organic foods that are grown locally and picked at the peak of freshness because they tend to be the most nutrient-dense and bioavailable sources of these nutrients. However, industrial agricultural practices and the stressors of modern life have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the vast majority of us to get the required amounts of the essential nutrients exclusively from our diet, making supplementation the next best option to minimize deficiency risk and help maintain good health. Given that we are all unique individuals with often varied nutritional needs, we encourage you to consult with a licensed dietitian/healthcare provider to determine the product that is right for your nutritional needs.
What are some factors to consider when choosing a multivitamin?
Factors that impact a multivitamin purchasing decision are generally as complex as the reasons why people supplement with multivitamins. Although by no means an exhaustive list of all possible factors, see below a few things to keep in mind when making a purchasing decision —
- Sustainability — are the micronutrients in the product derived from planet-friendly sources (e.g. organic, non-GMO)?
- Quality — does the multivitamin provide therapeutic dosages (based on Percent DVs) of the essential micronutrients?
- More is not always better — you are not what you eat, you are what you absorb, so just because a product contains mega doses of the micronutrients doesn’t mean your body can actually absorb or use all of them.
- Excess water-soluble vitamins — unused water-soluble vitamins have to be removed by the excretory organs (e.g. kidneys); which can increase the body’s workload.
- Excess fat-soluble vitamins — unused fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, 7 K) are stored in the body for long periods of time and generally pose a greater risk for toxicity when consumed in excess. So, try and get as many of the micronutrients as you can from your diet and supplement with a multivitamin that provides the essential micronutrients in amounts that help bridge nutrient gaps in the diet and do not exceed established tolerable upper limits for toxicity.
- Value-added ingredients — does the product include ingredients that complement or enhance the activity of the micronutrients to support healthy aging? Are these value-added ingredients present in therapeutic dosages (rather than just a pixie dusting for marketing purposes)?
- Product composition — what is listed in the “other ingredients?” Is the product free of chemical additives including fillers, binders, disintegrants, and coating agents?
- Accountability — does the company provide assurance that what’s claimed on the label is actually inside the bottle (e.g. Certificate of Analysis, USP seal, ConsumerLab verified seal)?
- Transparency — are the micronutrients in the multivitamin derived from natural foods or created in a lab? What is the country of origin of the different ingredients in the multivitamin blend?
- Value — although price is definitely an important consideration for many consumers, it is as unreliable an indicator of product quality, safety, or effectiveness as are creative packaging or fancy marketing copy. The only way to ensure that you are making the purchasing decision that is right for you or a loved one is to consider all of the factors listed above in their totality and evaluate which product is most likely to help support your health goals.
What is the best time of day to take a multivitamin?
The best time of day to take a multivitamin depends on several factors —
- Product composition — If the multivitamin you are taking only includes water-soluble nutrients, then you can take it at any time during the day, even on an empty stomach. If, however, your multivitamin includes fat-soluble nutrients, it is recommended that you take the supplement with the largest meal of your day.
- Nutrient type (synthetic vs. natural) — Synthetic vitamins can sometimes have a metallic aftertaste and/or produce digestive discomfort, so it is generally better to take them in the middle of the largest meal of the day. Products made using vitamins from natural sources are gentle enough to be taken on an empty stomach at any time during the day, but taking them with food can help with the optimal absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins D3, E, and K2.
- Serving size (one, two, or more) — If the recommended dosage is one capsule a day, then you can take the product at any time during the day, but preferably with a meal if the formulation includes any fat-soluble nutrients. If the serving size is two or more capsules, tablets, or softgels, it is desirable to take them in divided doses throughout the day. However, if taking them in divided at different times during the day is not an option, the next best thing is to take them with the largest meal of the day.
- Other supplements you may be taking — When taking one or more supplements, we recommend spacing the different supplements throughout the day to minimize the load on the digestive system and to support optimal absorption and assimilation of the nutrients in the multivitamin. In the interest of your safety and consistent with our fundamental guiding principle to ‘do no harm,’ we also encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider prior to adding a multivitamin to your regimen if you are taking other supplements or OTC/prescription medications.
- Practical considerations — Remembering to take multiple doses of a supplement throughout the day can be a challenge for many of us even on our best days. And if that’s the case with you, it may be best to take the recommended daily dosage as a single serving, preferably at the same time every day. On the other hand, if taking multiple capsules (or tablets) at one time is too difficult for you, it is perfectly okay to take them in divided doses throughout the day. As with any supplement, consistent compliance is key to reaping the intended benefits, so follow whatever dosing schedule will help you consistently take the recommended daily dosage every day.
Can multivitamins be taken together with other dietary supplements?
A multivitamin serves to fill the gaps of what might be missing in the diet and is typically fine in combination with other dietary supplements. However, it may be best to take a multivitamin that includes iron and/or zinc separately from a calcium/magnesium supplement as iron and zinc may compete with calcium/magnesium for absorption. That being said, consistent with our guiding principle to “do no harm,” we encourage you to consult with your trusted healthcare provider to determine what use is best for your individual needs prior to adding a multivitamin (or any other supplement) to your regimen.
- Can multivitamins be taken together with OTC or prescription medications?
If you are taking or planning to take an OTC or prescription medication, please consult a licensed pharmacist or your healthcare provider before beginning supplementation to minimize risk of side effects associated with potential supplement-drug interactions.
Questions about NutriGold multivitamins
Are synthetic or lab-made nutrients used at any point during the production of NutriGold multivitamin products, either as starting materials, as intermediates, or to fortify the finished product?
Except for the B12, which is synthetic because a natural, vegan source is currently not commercially available, all of the other nutrients in our vitamin, mineral, and multivitamin products are derived from non-genetically modified, natural food sources; many of the nutrient sources are also certified organic. No synthetic isolates are not used at any point during the production of NutriGold multivitamins.
How can I be sure that what’s on a multivitamin product label is actually inside the bottle?
At NutriGold, we believe that consumers have the right to hold companies accountable for label claims and that companies, in return, are professionally, morally, and ethically obligated to make information that is material to making a purchasing decision available and accessible to consumers upon request. Our commitment to authentic transparency is best reflected not just in our willingness to share where our ingredients come from or in the ethical disclosures about the composition of our products, but also in our willingness to make product Certificates of Analysis readily and easily accessible to consumers with a simple scan of the QR code on our product labels or by visiting the product pages on our website.
The Certificate of Analysis is a summary of the results of all of the third-party testing performed on the product, is lot-specific, and updated each time a new lot of a product is authorized for distribution by our quality control team. The results summarized in the Certificate of Analysis provide reassurance that the product has been verified to contain what is claimed on the label.
What are the sources of the different nutrients in NutriGold multivitamins?
Every micronutrient that is listed as “from organic food blend” is 100% sourced from foods such as organic lemon, guava, amla, etc. The full list of organic foods from which the vast majority of the micronutrients in NutriGold multivitamins are derived is included in the ‘Organic Food Blend’ on the supplement facts panel. Micronutrients that originate from other sources include vegan vitamin D (from lichen), vitamin K (from natto), and iodine (from organic kelp) and are listed as such on the product labels. Vitamin B-12 is the only synthetic micronutrient in NutriGold multivitamins and this is produced by microbial fermentation of multiple species of propionibacterium.
Does NutriGold use synthetic vitamins at any stage during the multivitamin manufacturing process?
Other than vitamin B12, which is synthetic, NutriGold multivitamin products do not contain any other synthetic vitamins (in isolated or cultured forms). When formulating multivitamin products, our preference always is to use organic food sources when available. However, our vitamin B12 is an exception to this because there are no known biologically active plant sources of B12. Our multivitamins include vitamin B12 in its biologically active methylcobalamin & adenosylcobalamin forms in an approximately 70/30 ratio.
What is the source of vitamin B9 in NutriGold multivitamins?
Given the confusion that exists over the use of the terms folic acid and folate when describing or marketing vitamin B9 supplements, we would like to begin by clarifying the difference between folate and folic acid as described in the scientific literature. Folic acid and folate are used interchangeably as they are both forms of vitamin B9, but there is an important difference. According to the American Pregnancy Association, folic acid is the synthesized version that is commonly used in processed foods and supplements; it is man-made and does not occur naturally in foods. Folate, on the other hand, can be found in whole foods such as leafy vegetables, eggs, and citrus fruits. The vitamin B9 in our product is from organic food sources (e.g. lemon peel extract, spinach). To eliminate confusion, we simply refer to this nutrient on our labels as "Vitamin B9 (from organic food blend)". No synthetic folic acid is added to our products at any point during the production of our finished product.
Why don’t NutriGold multivitamins provide 100% DV of all vitamins and minerals?
Although natural foods are safe and bioavailable sources of many of the micronutrients that are essential for maintaining good health, they often contain these micronutrients in fairly small amounts. So, formulating a multivitamin product that provides 100% daily value of all of the micronutrients from natural food sources, while ideal and theoretically possible, would be associated with a prohibitive increase in the daily dosage as well as the product price, which can be a deal-breaker for many consumers.
To ensure that our products provide safe and therapeutic doses of essential micronutrients at reasonable dosages and sustainable prices, we had to make some compromises on which nutrients end up in our multivitamin formulations. That being said, most of our multivitamins still provide 100% DV (or higher) of most vitamins and 50% DV or higher of some minerals.
Why don’t NutriGold multivitamins include minerals like calcium, magnesium and copper?
Calcium and magnesium can compete with other minerals for absorption in the GI tract and are often recommended to be taken separately from a multivitamin. Also, depending on what calcium or magnesium is bound to, the size of the molecule can be quite large, which could make the serving size of a multivitamin that provides therapeutic amounts of either of these minerals larger than what many customers would be willing to take. For customers that need extra supplemental magnesium we offer Magnesium Gold, which provides a bioavailable source of magnesium (400 mg per 3 capsule serving).
Similarly, the reason we do not include copper in our multivitamins is that copper is poorly absorbed in the presence of iron and zinc. The decision to include iron (Women's formulas) and zinc (all multi formulas) at the expense of copper was based on population studies showing a higher rate of iron and zinc deficiency, rather than a copper deficiency, in the general population.
Why don’t NutriGold multivitamins provide Vitamin A (beta carotene)?
Many multivitamin brands, including those that are marketed as "food-based", offer vitamin A as synthetic beta carotene or lab-created vitamin A (retinol). At NutriGold, we strive to avoid synthetic vitamins in our products and prefer nutrients that are derived entirely from natural foods. Unfortunately, food sources of beta carotene are not currently available that meet our stringent quality standards for stability. It is important to note, however, that all of our women’s 3-per-day multivitamins (except for the prenatal multi) and two of our men’s multivitamins (men’s multi 40+ & men’s 55+ multi) now feature SOD-B Extramel®, a clinically-proven ingredient that is a far more powerful antioxidant than beta-carotene and provides some of the same benefits as vitamin A.
Does NutriGold offer a gender-neutral multivitamin?
We do not currently offer a gender-neutral multivitamin. This allows our customers to choose the formulation (Men's, Women's, Prenatal, 40+, etc.) that best fits their needs based upon nutrient levels, without worrying about potentially unnecessary gender-specific herbs or herbal blends. Many brands include gender-specific herbs (e.g. saw palmetto, chaste tree); however, these gender-specific ingredients are usually in amounts that are too low to provide the intended therapeutic benefits and sometimes come at the expense of some of the essential micronutrients in the multivitamin formulation..
We recognize that gender-specific multivitamin formulas can have the unintended consequence of creating more confusion rather than introducing more clarity into the multivitamin purchasing process. According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, however, there are some variations in the nutrients that are needed for women of child-bearing age versus women who are going through menopause and later (e.g. folate, iron). Our women's multivitamin formulas reflect the differences in these variations. Likewise, iron is not added to our men's multivitamins or the 40 / 55+ women's multivitamins given that men and post-menopausal women (who are not at risk of iron deficiency) are typically directed to avoid multivitamins containing iron.
We recognize that we are all unique individuals with often varied nutritional needs. In light of this, we encourage all of our customers to consult with a licensed healthcare provider to determine what micronutrients they may or may not be lacking and what amounts are appropriate for their needs prior to supplementation.
Does NutriGold offer a children’s multivitamin?
While we have explored the possibility of offering a children’s multivitamin, our product Research & Development team has not yet approved moving forward with production on this product. Although adjusting our current adult multivitamin formulations to meet child-appropriate RDAs is easy enough to do, our goal is to be able to offer a children's multivitamin that is easier to take and more palatable, even without the sweeteners, colors, and artificial flavors found in many of the current children's multivitamin offerings. We are confident that we will eventually develop a formulation that checks all the boxes and conforms to our own high quality and safety standards, but as with all NutriGold products, the process can sometimes be excruciatingly long.
What is a pullulan capsule? What is it made of?
Pullulan is a vegetable-derived, water-soluble polysaccharide produced through a natural fermentation process. Pullulan capsules are considered more natural than HPMC (cellulose) capsules because they are naturally derived from fermented tapioca. Unlike cellulose capsules, which are considered semi-synthetic and not permitted in certified organic products, pullulan is included in the USDA’s National Organic Program list of accepted ingredients for organic products.
What is the purpose of the organic rice concentrate?
Although we make every effort to manufacture products without any additives, we sometimes need to add an additive for optimal ingredient flow during manufacturing and to ensure finished product integrity. While many supplement companies prefer to use chemical additives like magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide, we prefer to use organic rice concentrate from USA-grown brown rice bran, which is naturally hypoallergenic and gluten-free. The rice concentrate is only added on an as-needed basis to ensure product integrity and is always declared in the spirit of complete transparency on the product label.
Are NutriGold multivitamins soy-free?
At NutriGold, we use the term “soy-free” to describe products that do not contain any ingredients derived from soy and the phrase “verified free of soy allergen” to confirm that soy allergen, if present, is less than 5 parts per million or 5 micrograms per gram of the product. Based on these definitions, our multivitamin products are not soy-free because vitamin K2 (as MK-7) in our multivitamins is sourced from natto, which is fermented soybeans. We encourage consumers who are interested in taking the product, but are unsure about the suitability of the soy-derived K2 in the product for their particular health needs, to discuss their concerns with a qualified healthcare provider prior to supplementation.
Are NutriGold multivitamins gluten-free?
All of our multivitamin products are confirmed to be free of gluten through supply-chain verification and independently verified by a third-party lab to contain less than 20 parts per million or less than 20 micrograms per gram of gluten per serving of the product, which is consistent with the limit set by the FDA as per its gluten-free food labeling rule.
Should NutriGold multivitamins be taken with food?
Many customers find our multivitamins to be gentle enough to be taken on an empty stomach. However, it is generally recommended to take multivitamins with food, if possible, because the products include fat-soluble vitamins that are best absorbed with some fat (usually a component of most meals).
Can the recommended dosage of NutriGold multivitamins be taken in divided doses throughout the day or is it best to take it as a single dose?
Overall nutrient assimilation may be best if you are able to space the multivitamin throughout the day. However, if compliance is an issue, our multivitamins may be consumed as a single dose. It is also generally recommended to take multivitamins with food, if possible, because they include fat-soluble vitamins that are best absorbed with some fat (usually a component of most meals). We encourage you to consult with your trusted healthcare advisor to determine what usage is best for your individual needs.
Can I break apart the capsule and add the contents to liquid/food to consume?
All of our products are formulated to be taken as capsules and our purity and potency claims are based on the product being taken as recommended. We generally do not recommend breaking apart the capsules because it can introduce contaminants or otherwise compromise product potency and effectiveness.