Those who take multivitamin tablets hope for a stronger immune system, more concentration in everyday life or an improvement in the appearance of the skin. In any case, the physical well-being should be increased by vitamins, minerals and trace elements. If a balanced diet is no longer sufficient due to illness, pregnancy or a particular lifestyle, multivitamins can provide relief.
In our big multivitamin tablet test 2021 we explain in which cases it makes sense to take multivitamin preparations. We give you an overview of scientific findings to make your purchase decision easier. Our comparison shows the differences between high-quality capsules and inexpensive tablets. And in the final guide, we answer the most important questions about multivitamins based on studies.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Multivitamin Tablets: Our Choices
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for multivitamin tablets
- 5 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying multivitamin tablets
- 5.1 What are multivitamin tablets and what effect do they have?
- 5.2 When and for whom is it useful to take multivitamins?
- 5.3 What side effects can multivitamin tablets have?
- 5.4 What do multivitamin preparations cost?
- 5.5 What types of multivitamin preparations are there?
- 5.6 How should multivitamin tablets be dosed?
- 5.7 What are the alternatives to multivitamin tablets?
- 5.8 What deficiency symptoms can indicate an undersupply of vitamins?
- 5.9 Should children take multivitamin tablets?
- 5.10 Are expired multivitamin tablets still effective?
- Multivitamin tablets provide highly concentrated essential micronutrients. Vitamins, minerals and trace elements in this form are an uncomplicated way to strengthen the body. However, they should only supplement a balanced and healthy diet.
- Some multivitamin preparations exceed the recommended daily dose. This can improve your physical condition if you are found to be deficient. However, an overdose of certain vitamins can also have negative health consequences.
- For diabetes patients, people with small stomachs or pregnant women, multivitamin tablets are sometimes vital. However, the added value of such preparations for a healthy person is scientifically disputed.
The Best Multivitamin Tablets: Our Choices
Buying and evaluation criteria for multivitamin tablets
Before buying a multivitamin preparation, you can orientate yourself on some important aspects. These include:
By making the right choice for you, you can save money and also ensure that you don't give your body anything it doesn't need. Therefore, always look for high quality and ask to see the manufacturer's certificates if necessary.
Composition of the ingredients
There are a total of 13 vitamins that are essential for healthy body function. In addition, you need numerous minerals and trace elements in small doses, such as calcium, iodine or zinc.
Vitamin B12, for example, is naturally found in sufficient amounts only in animal products. Therefore, you should focus on a high concentration of this micronutrient if you eat a vegan diet.
Folic acid, on the other hand, is important for cell growth. During pregnancy, women are advised to increase their intake of the B vitamin. In multivitamin tablets, vitamins B6 and B12 also complement each other and promote the breakdown of toxic substances.
However, there are also micronutrients that can usually be covered in sufficient form by the diet. Fluoride, sodium or phosphorus are therefore among the minerals you can do without in multivitamin tablets.
You can recognise high-quality multivitamin tablets by the low number of additives. Inexpensive products in particular often contain more fillers that the body cannot use.
Sugar compounds such as lactose or fructose can also make it difficult to take. If you have an intolerance, you should choose a multivitamin without these substances.
You can also find multivitamin tablets for vegans. These contain no animal products at all and therefore no gelatine. Are you allergic to gluten, soya or maize? Then it's also worth taking a look at the ingredients of the multivitamin preparation.
Some ingredients, on the other hand, are rarely found in multivitamin tablets, although taking them in addition may be beneficial. One of these is the enzyme Q10, which can inhibit inflammation in the body.
The dosage of a multivitamin is very individual. Some high-dose multivitamins contain a recommended daily dose of the appropriate nutrients in each serving.
It is not uncommon for a tablet to contain more than 100 per cent of the recommended amount. If there is a severe undersupply of certain nutrients, such a high dosage can help to increase physical well-being.
Many excess nutrients are simply excreted by the body. However, overdosing on some substances can be dangerous. So always pay attention to the total volume of your daily vitamin intake.
A good multivitamin preparation should supplement your body with the micronutrients that you do not adequately cover through your eating habits. Therefore, if necessary, analyse your diet. Then you can assess which vitamins and minerals you need in higher concentrations.
The biological availability of the individual ingredients depends on various factors.
- Molecular structure: The molecular structure of vitamins and minerals determines what your organism can do with them. For example, there is synthetic and natural vitamin B12. The artificial form, "cyancobalamin", cannot be used directly by the human body. Only the split product "methylcobalamin" is useful for you.
Some multivitamin preparations can therefore provide the body with nutrients more easily and quickly.
- Interactions: The total amount of vitamins that can actually be used also varies due to interactions. This is because different components can promote and inhibit each other's effectiveness.
For example, vitamin D and calcium help each other to be processed in the body. Too much calcium, on the other hand, can hinder the absorption of zinc if both are present in multivitamin tablets.
Not all interactions are avoidable when taking multivitamins. Therefore, you should first ensure good bioavailability of those components from which you expect the most.
Multivitamin tablets come in tins or boxes. The number of servings varies between about 40 and 500, depending on the manufacturer and price.
- Small packs: You have to buy small-size multivitamin tablets regularly, which can cost more in the long run. The advantage of this is that if you are not satisfied with the composition of the components or the dosage of individual nutrients, you can react quickly.
- Large packs: Multivitamin preparations with several hundred servings are cheaper on average and you have a reliable supply of nutrients for a long time.
However, there is a risk that the ingredients of your multivitamin tablets will no longer meet your needs after a short time. Then you may have a large number of capsules that your body can't do much with.
When looking at the size of the packs, also pay attention to the dosage of a serving. Some manufacturers deliberately put low amounts of nutrients into a multivitamin tablet. In this case, you are required to take the preparation several times a day.
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying multivitamin tablets
In the following section you will find all the important information about multivitamin tablets. We want to give you an overview of the studies on the effectiveness and uses of multivitamins.
What are multivitamin tablets and what effect do they have?
It can happen that your eating habits do not cover all the essential vitamins. In this case, a multivitamin preparation can compensate for any deficiencies.
Many people also take multivitamins as a preventive measure. Especially the intake of multivitamin tablets without noticeable deficiency symptoms is the subject of scientific discussions.
We have summarised a selection of positive effects that the consumption of multivitamins can have on your body:
Multivitamins for pregnant women
During pregnancy, women need to meet the nutritional needs of their unborn child. This is why many pregnant women turn to multivitamin tablets.
A 2017 meta-study suggests that the risk of miscarriage, stunted limbs or low birth weight could be reduced by the mother taking a multivitamin.(2)
Authorities and doctors recommend that expectant mothers take folic acid supplements in particular. This nutrient is considered to play an important role in cell development.(3)
In fact, multivitamin preparations with a high folic acid content could reduce the risk of malformations in an unborn child.(4)
The connection between multivitamin tablets during pregnancy and autistic disorders has also been studied. According to this, women could reduce the chance of their child developing autism if they took multivitamins during pregnancy.(5)
Multivitamins for high blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the most common problems in older or overweight people. Patients at risk of cardiovascular problems therefore often rely on multivitamin tablets as a preventive measure.
A Chinese study concluded that long-term intake of multivitamin tablets could significantly reduce high blood pressure in overweight women.(6)
In older, healthy people, on the other hand, scientists could not find any great improvement in the cardiovascular system through multivitamins.(7)
Research also provides little evidence for effective prevention of high blood pressure using multivitamin tablets.(8)
Similarly, multivitamin preparations hardly seem to contribute to a remarkable prevention of heart attacks. Long-term studies of women(9) and men(10) regarding the incidence of acute cardiovascular disease come to this conclusion.
Multivitamins to increase mental performance and reduce stress
Multivitamin tablets may also improve your mental well-being. Some studies conclude that taking multivitamins could help you cope with stressful situations.
Explicitly, researchers observed that women taking multivitamin tablets were able to cope with several tasks at the same time better than corresponding control groups.(11)
According to this, mathematical thinking performance could also be improved by taking multivitamin preparations. (11) A study on children who consumed multivitamins over a longer period of time also came to this conclusion.(12)
A positive effect on the perceived stress level and mental health is also assumed in a study conducted on healthy men.(13)
When and for whom is it useful to take multivitamins?
However, the effectiveness of such preventive measures is controversial. Numerous health authorities and doctors are of the opinion that a large part of the essential micronutrients can be covered by a balanced diet.(14, 15)
Nevertheless, there are groups of people for whom it is advisable to take multivitamin preparations. We will explain some of them in this section.
People with gastric bypass
Multivitamin tablets can play an important role in the lives of people who have undergone an artificial gastric bypass. Gastric bypass restricts the food intake of these people.
This is to keep the daily amount of calories down. In this way, a gastric band helps formerly overweight people to maintain a low weight.
One problem of the treatment: Due to the small amounts of food, significantly fewer micronutrients enter the body. To compensate for this undersupply, many people with gastric banding have to take multivitamin tablets.(16)
Because of the large number of substances needed, multivitamin tablets are a good choice for people who have had gastric band surgery.(16, 17)
People with diabetes
Unfortunately, diabetics often suffer from vitamin deficiencies, even though this group of people has to pay close attention to a healthy diet. The reason for this is an increased need for nutrients, which goes hand in hand with the chronic disease anyway.(18)
As a diabetes patient, the urge to urinate is also usually increased. Minerals and vitamins are therefore excreted in larger quantities through the urine.(18)
Another reason for the vitamin deficiency in diabetics is medication such as "metformin". This seems to lower the level of vitamin B12 in the blood.(19)
However, an undersupply of vitamins can be particularly dangerous for diabetes patients. The B vitamins, for example, are involved in numerous sugar metabolic processes. (19) For this reason, diabetics may want to take multivitamin tablets.
Vitamin D and various minerals such as magnesium and zinc are also considered useful dietary supplements for diabetics. These nutrients combined can, among other things, reduce inflammation in the body.(19, 20, 21)
Multivitamins may therefore be a useful addition to the diet of diabetes patients. As a diabetic, however, you should check with a doctor to find out which dosage is best for your body.
Women during pregnancy
Pregnant women have an increased need for folic acid and iodine. (22) An embryo develops quickly, which is why folic acid is essential for healthy cell development.
During pregnancy, women's thyroid function also increases. Therefore, experts recommend iodine supplementation.(23)
Pregnant women are also advised to take iron after consulting a doctor. This can reduce the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight.(23)
Vitamin D can also be useful as a food supplement. Especially in the winter months, the body can produce only little of this nutrient itself due to weak sunlight.(23)
Overall, however, it is assumed that a large part of the other micronutrients can be covered in sufficient quantities by a nutritious diet of the mother.(22, 24)
What side effects can multivitamin tablets have?
- Abdominal pain
- allergic reactions
- yellow urine
Discolouration of the urine is due to high levels of vitamin B2 in many multivitamin preparations. This side effect is usually harmless.(25)
What do multivitamin preparations cost?
|Multivitamin preparation as tablet||approx. 0.04 - 0.10 euros / piece|
|Multivitamin preparation as capsule||approx. 0.30 - 0.50 Euro / piece|
The price difference is partly due to the way the two multivitamin preparations work. The cell membrane of a capsule only dissolves in the stomach. This means that the nutrients are passed on to your organism in a more targeted way.
What types of multivitamin preparations are there?
However, a distinction can be made with regard to the dosage form of the multivitamins:
- Multivitamin preparations in tablet form
- Multivitamin preparations as capsules
In the following section we will explain in more detail what the above-mentioned variants are all about.
How should multivitamin tablets be dosed?
If, on the other hand, you are mostly inactive in your daily life, your needs may be lower. Gender and hormonal balance can also play a role in determining the correct dosage.
Illness and age also influence which vitamins and minerals should be present in your multivitamin and in what concentration. Senior citizens, for example, often seem to suffer from nutrient deficiencies, which is why high-dose multivitamins are recommended for them.(26, 27)
We cannot give you a general recommendation on the exact combination of the individual components of a multivitamin preparation. When choosing the concentration, you can orient yourself on official guidelines such as those of the German Society for Nutrition.
Here is a selection of recommended daily amounts for essential micronutrients that are often found in multivitamin preparations:
|Vitamin / Mineral|| DGE recommended
daily intake for 25- to 50-year-olds (men / women)
|Vitamin A||100 / 80 μg|
|Vitamin C||110 / 95 mg|
|Vitamin D||20 μg|
|Vitamin E||14 / 12 mg|
|Vitamin B2||1.4 / 1.1 mg|
|Vitamin B6||1.6 / 1.4 mg|
|Vitamin B12||4.0 μg|
|Vitamin K||70 / 61 μg|
|Iron||10 / 15 mg|
|Folic acid||300 μg|
|Magnesium||350 / 300 mg|
|Selenium||70 / 60 μg|
|Zinc||14 / 8 mg|
These are average values for healthy adults. You can use the guidelines to compare the different multivitamin tablets in the first place.
However, it is always advisable to have yourself examined and advised by a doctor. If the doctor finds that you are deficient in certain micronutrients, you can adjust your multivitamin dose accordingly.
What are the alternatives to multivitamin tablets?
- Multivitamin juices: Many manufacturers advertise fruit juices with a particularly rich portfolio of vitamins. However, these are usually added and produced synthetically.
Because of their sweet taste and liquid consistency, these multivitamin preparations are easy for children to consume. However, they can easily lead to an overdose of micronutrients that a healthy body cannot utilise.(28)
- Multivitamin effervescent tablets: If you have trouble swallowing capsules, effervescent tablets are an option.
These provide similar concentrations to conventional multivitamin tablets. They are much easier to take by dissolving the effervescent tablet in water and then drinking it.
- Individual vitamin preparations: In many cases, it can be a good idea not to take a food supplement with a lot of vitamins. Instead, you can selectively take only those nutrients for which your doctor has determined that you are deficient.
One advantage: You have better control over your nutrient balance. With a multivitamin preparation, you can quickly overdose on certain components.
With this solution, however, you may have to invest more money. Taking several tablets a day can also become a burden in everyday life.
What deficiency symptoms can indicate an undersupply of vitamins?
- Fatigue / exhaustion
- Lack of concentration
- Decrease in physical or mental performance
A particularly severe deficiency of certain nutrients can also manifest itself, for example, in the form of vision problems, cramps, anaemia or a weak immune system with many infections.(29, 30)
If you suspect that you are deficient in vitamins, have yourself examined by a doctor. A lack of nutrients can be a reason for the symptoms described, but it does not have to be.
Should children take multivitamin tablets?
Individual nutrients such as vitamin D3, on the other hand, are sometimes present in insufficient quantities in children's bodies. Positive effects have already been observed here through the use of food supplements.(32)
At the same time, however, overdoses of certain nutrients are not uncommon if a child takes multivitamin tablets. (32) This in turn can lead to health risks that should be avoided, especially in adolescents.(33)
As is also true for adults, a balanced diet can make a big contribution to an adequate supply for children. Taking multivitamin preparations is generally considered to be of little use.
Are expired multivitamin tablets still effective?
The fat-soluble components are most likely to prevent you from taking multivitamin tablets. These include vitamins A, D, E and K, which can become rancid after only a few weeks in poor storage conditions.(34)
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Haskell, C.F., Robertson, B., Jones, E., Forster, J., Jones, R., Wilde, A., Maggini, S. and Kennedy, D.O. (2010), Effects of a multi‐vitamin/mineral supplement on cognitive function and fatigue during extended multi‐tasking. Hum. Psychopharmacol. Clin. Exp., 25: 448-461.
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