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Synthetic Vitamins In Whole Food Multivitamins?

Question:
Which "whole food" multivitamins are only from foods and don't include synthetic vitamins? What can you tell from the labels of these products: Complete Foods Nutrition-OctoMega MultiVitamin; Sunwarrior Raw Vitamins; Garden of LIfe-MyKind Organics; Nature's Brands-PhytoVitamins; Doctors' Research MultiVitamin?

Answer:
If you read labels very carefully, you'll find that most "whole food" multivitamin/multimineral supplements are not exclusively made from "whole" foods (i.e., they contain food extracts or concentrates) and some may contain nutrients not from "foods" but from synthetic sources.

It is particularly interesting to look at the source of vitamin D in these products. Plants do not provide vitamin D, so food-based products needs to include either fish oil (such as cod liver oil), a meat liver extract, or brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) or lichen (a combination of algae and fungus — which can be eaten if properly prepared) which has been exposed to UV radiation, as these can produce vitamin D 

Bear in mind that it's not necessarily clinically important that all of your nutrients come exclusively foods and, in limited situations, it may be better to include a synthetic source. In addition, some "whole foods may be contaminated with heavy metals, as ConsumerLab.com has found (see the Greens and Whole Foods Powders Review). It's also important that products contain the vitamins and minerals they claim. We routinely purchase and test supplements claiming to be from "whole foods" as part of our Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplements Review, so be sure to check the report.

However, if it important to you that you get your nutrients only from whole foods, we have, reviewed the labels of products from the brands you asked about -- sign in to read our assessments >>

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Comments
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Linda8515   March 11, 2016
Would you review Propax vitamins by Nutritional Therapeutics. I was given these 15 years ago when I was going thru chemo by the hospital and have taken them ever since.

ConsumerLab.com   March 14, 2016
Hi Linda - Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind. Also, be sure to take our annual survey of newsletter readers, which we send out each November, as this helps to determine which supplements we test.

Mourad8172   December 9, 2015
Hi. Thanks for this review. I wonder why you're not including MegaFoods in your list. Their vitamins are derived from yeast which apparently transforms vitamins they are fed into more bioavailable form. What are your findings about MF multi-vitamins? Thank you.

cypriano8141   December 6, 2015
Thanks for the information. Food based meaning algae or bakers yeast is used in the production process ? Also do you trace the raw materials the age,transportation, country of the materials?
Thanks Again.


ConsumerLab.com   December 8, 2015
Hi Cypriano - Food-based multivitamins contain vitamins and minerals derived from foods such as those listed above (fruits, vegetables, kelp, etc), and/or those that can be derived from algae or produced from yeast. We do not have information about the age, transportation or country of origin of the raw materials used in these supplements; consumers can request this type of information from manufacturers, although they may not necessarily provide it.

Daniele8140   December 6, 2015
I find this question and answer very informative. I wonder if ConsumerLab would venture to suggest which they consider to be the best choice among them.

ConsumerLab.com   December 8, 2015
Hi Daniele - Unlike products tested in our Reviews, we only assessed the labels of these products to answer this question. So we are not in a position to say which, if any, are a good choice. However, assuming all were to contain what they claimed without unacceptable contamination, the best choice would be one that provides nutrients which a person is most likely needing. For example, as supplementation with some vitamin D may help many people, look for those that provide it. If you are over 50, look for one that provides vitamin B-12.

This CL Answer initially posted on 12/6/2015. Last updated 8/2/2017.

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