Shopping for a multivitamin has crossed the line from being confusing to becoming mind-bending. If you think you can avoid the confusion by heading straight for the "silver" products marketed to seniors, think again: About a third of the CVS offerings targeted people in the plus range, with formulations for men, women, and menopausal women, as well as the standard unisex formulas. You may not even need them. Our survey, which included 2, adults and took place in Apriluncovered some other concerns, too: Our tests of 21 multivitamins at two outside labs—including leading brands, five for seniors, and six for children—will allay some of those fears.
All but one of the products we tested met their label claims for key essential vitamins and minerals, and none contained worrisome levels of contaminants such as arsenic or heavy metals.
Most of the pills we tested also passed the U. The USP is an independent standards-setting authority for the drug and dietary supplement industries. Guide to the Ratings All of the products met their claimed levels of vitamins A, C, D, and Centrum vitamins and their absorption rate, folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and zinc; lacked worrisome levels of heavy-metal contaminants; and dissolved adequately in the U.
All had a safety seal on the mouth of the bottle and, unless otherwise noted, a child-resistant cap. USP verified indicates that a product has been verified for purity, strength, safety, dissolvability, and manufacturing quality by the USP, an independent standards-setting authority for the drug and dietary supplement industries.
The verification seal holds more weight than a USP claim on the label, which several of the other products we tested had.
Multivitamins are generally formulated to provide percent of the recommended daily intakes of the essential vitamins and minerals, and smaller percentages of other nutrients, centrum vitamins and their absorption rate.
There centrum vitamins and their absorption rate some people for whom a daily multi is clearly necessary:. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to conceive. And women who are either pregnant or breast-feeding need higher levels of other nutrients, including calcium and iron.
They should take a specially formulated prenatal multivitamin. People on restricted diets. People consuming fewer than 1, calories per day or who are cutting out entire food groups such as carbohydrates may need supplementation.
So do people who take certain weight-loss drugs, including the over-the-counter pill Allithat inhibit the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. People with a condition that depletes nutrients. Those disorders include cancer, diabetes, and chronic gastrointestinal problems such as colitis and pancreatitis that impair absorption or digestion.
But such people may require more absorbable forms and higher doses of certain nutrients than a multivitamin provides. So people older than 50 often need to be sure they get to 1, International Units of D and at least 2, centrum vitamins and their absorption rate. A multivitamin is one potential source of those nutrients, though some people might still need a separate vitamin D supplement often combined with calcium to reach the recommended levels, centrum vitamins and their absorption rate.
Beyond that, the benefit of a daily multivitamin for the average person is murky, and getting murkier. In our survey, the small subset of respondents about one-sixth who ate five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables had higher rates of multivitamin use than less healthful eaters. That echoes findings from large-scale observational studies that found that vitamin users tend to be the same people who eat well, exercise, and follow other health-promoting behaviors. The tendency of health-conscious people to take vitamins has provided marketing fodder for vitamin manufacturers, says Irwin Rosenberg, M.
A few studies suggest that multivitamins may even increase the risk of certain health centrum vitamins and their absorption rate. But it does add to the reasons to, when possible, get your nutrients from foods—many of which contain their own potent cancer-protective properties—and to get any nutrients you may need more of, like calcium and vitamin D, from supplements rather than from a multi.
If you still decide to take a multivitamin, our tests show that you can get a good one for very little money. Use the Ratings, note the nutrient doses, and buy by price. In addition, follow these guidelines: Avoiding big doses is especially important with vitamin A: Just percent of the DV of the retinol form, sometimes listed on labels as vitamin A acetate or palmitate, can increase the risk of birth defects and liver damage. Ignore special claims and add-ons.
Claims for benefits such as weight control or increased energy are generally unsubstantiated. Even if botanical ingredients, food extracts, and other substances like lutein and lycopene did have a benefit, the amounts in a multivitamin are probably too small to have any effect. Consider a multivitamin geared to your age or gender.
Senior formulas may also contain more vitamin D. The greater the food variety, the more numerous the potential beneficial interactions.
Taking the vitamins and minerals out of food robs you of all those healthful interactions, not to mention fiber, a disease fighter in its own right. That may be cholesterol reducing fruit and vegetables study after study of isolated, high doses of vitamins has found they failed to prevent cancer, dementia, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes, even though people who eat foods rich in those vitamins have lower rates of those diseases.
And samples of two of the One Daily lots contained less than 90 percent of their labeled level of vitamin A, considered the cutoff for an acceptable margin of error by the U. Pharmacopeiawhich sets industry standards for dietary supplements. One Centrum vitamins and their absorption rate contained more than percent of its labeled calcium, while Whole Source had more than percent of its labeled zinc and more than percent of its labeled vitamin D.
And at about 13 cents per day, they were the most expensive of all the multis we tested. There are better choices. Get Ratings on the go and compare while you shop. Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, centrum vitamins and their absorption rate, be safe and stay informed.
Subscribers only Sign in or Subscribe now! Check this box if you wish to have a copy mailed to you. Multivitamin Ratings All met their claims. In order of price, within categories. Pros and cons of vitamins. There are some people for whom a daily multi is clearly necessary: How to choose a multivitamin If you still decide to take a multivitamin, our tests show that you can get a good one for very little money. Food trumps multivitamin pills.
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more! Manage your newsletters here too. Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare while you shop Learn more. Make a Donation Newsletters.