Does Your Multivitamin Make the Cut?

By Dr. Margaret Walsh

There are hundreds of multivitamin brands available today, so how do you know which one to buy? Unfortunately, not all multivitamins are created equally well. In fact, there can be a huge difference in the quality of various multivitamins. The key to determining if you have a high or low quality multivitamin is to look at the ingredient list. There are good and bad forms of most vitamins and minerals. Often times, the determining factor is the substance with which the vitamin or mineral is combined. This can influence the body’s ability to break down and absorb the nutrient. The following is a list of vitamins and minerals, with the good and bad forms of each. Take a look at your multivitamin, compare it to the list, and see if it makes the cut!

Note: this list is not entirely comprehensive, but includes the most common forms used in multivitamins.

Good- Iron citrate/aspartate/fumarate/glycinate, potassium idodide
Bad- Iron gluconate
Good- Calcium citrate/malate/aspartate
Bad- Calcium gluconate
Good- Magnesium citrate/glycinate/aspartate/orotate/taurinate/arginate/malate
Bad- Magnesium oxide, Magnesium hydroxide
Good- Zinc citrate/picolinate
Bad- Zinc gluconate
Good- Potassium citrate/aspartate/orotate
Bad- Potassium chloride, Potassium gluconate
Vitamin A (aka retinyl, retinol, or retinal):
Good- Vitamin A palmitate, Vitamin A acetate
Vitamin C
Good- ascorbic acid (aka ascorbate), calcium/magnesium/potassium ascorbate
Bad- ascorbyl palmitate
Good- mixed carotenoids, betatene (carotenoid formula with beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin)
Bad- beta-carotene (alone)
Vitamin D
Good- cholecalciferol (Vit D3)
Bad- ergocalciferol (Vit D2)
Vitamin E
Good- mixed tocopherols (alpha, gamma, beta, delta), alpha tocopherol acetate/succinate
Okay (but not the best)- tocotrienol
Bad- DL-alpha tocopherol acetate
Thiamine (B1)
Good- Thiamine HCL, Thiamine mononitrate
Bad- Thiamine pyrophosphate (active in body, but not in vitamins)
Riboflavin (B2)
Good- riboflavin HCL
Niacin (B3)
Good- niacin, niacinamide, inositol hexaniacinate (does not cause flushing)
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Good- calcium/sodium pantothenate (aka pantothenic acid)
Pyridoxine (B6)
Good – pyridoxine HCL, pyridoxal 5’ phosphate
Cobalamin (B12)
Good- methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin
Bad- cyanocobalamin
Folic Acid
Good- methyltetrahydrofolate, folinic acid, folic acid
Good- manganese sulfate/gluconate/ascorbate
Good- chromium picolinate/polynicotinate
Bad- chromium chloride
Good- selenomethionine, L-Se-methylselenocysteine
Bad- selenium yeast
Good- bismaltolatooxoxvanadium (BMOV)
Good- molybdenum picolinate
Good- boron glycinate/citrate
Good- copper glycinate/citrate
Bad- copper gluconate/oxide/sulfate
Good- potassium iodine

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