Stress, unbalanced diet, previous illnesses... Vitamin deficiency can have many causes and is fortunately easy to prevent. In most cases, a slight change in diet is enough to restore the vitamin balance. Sometimes, however, this is not enough, which is when special vitamin preparations in tablet form come into play.
Of course, there is a lot to consider when buying vitamin tablets. In order to simplify this complex topic a little, we have compiled some information on this topic in our vitamin tablet test 2022 so that you can help yourself and your health in the right way.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Vitamin Tablets: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for vitamin tablets
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about vitamin tablets answered in detail
- 5.1 How do vitamin tablets work?
- 5.2 How much do vitamin tablets cost?
- 5.3 How should vitamin tablets be taken?
- 5.4 When and for whom is it useful to take vitamin tablets?
- 5.5 Can vitamin tablets be harmful?
- 5.6 Do vitamin tablets improve one's health?
- 5.7 Do vitamin pills replace eating fruits and vegetables?
- 5.8 Do vitamin tablets help with weight loss?
- Vitamin tablets are not a substitute for a balanced diet. Preparations should always be considered as a supplement and never as a substitute. Prior consultation with a trusted doctor or pharmacist is mandatory!
- Be aware that some vitamin tablets can interact with other medicines. Even aspirin can cause complications in combination with vitamin E. You should also discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Even though many vitamin preparations are deliberately low-dosed and the body usually has a high tolerance, you should still not overdose carelessly. This will only put a strain on your body and may even cause it more harm than good.
The Best Vitamin Tablets: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for vitamin tablets
Vitamin tablets are an easy way to compensate for deficiencies, but they should not be taken without hesitation. To help you make your choice, we have compiled some criteria to consider in the following section.
Form of administration
Vitamin tablets are the most common form of administration for food supplements, but by far not the only one. Depending on preference or everyday situation, some of these alternatives may be more suitable.
|Tablets||Ingredients pressed into shape||usually easy to dose thanks to predetermined breaking point, also available in larger packs|
|Capsules||Ingredient in smaller digestible shell||no bitter aftertaste, robust and therefore also suitable for travelling|
|Coated tablets||ingredients pressed in a similar way to tablets and additionally provided with a film||easier absorption|
|Effervescent tablets||ingredients are dissolved separately in water and swallowed||greatly facilitated absorption|
A note additionally applies to vegetarians and vegans: The shell of capsules usually consists of gelatine, which is not always necessarily of animal origin, but in most cases is obtained from the bones of animals, predominantly pigs.
People with lactose intolerance should also be careful with solid tablets, as they may contain lactose as a binding agent.
Vitamins are a collective term for various nutrients that the body needs in relatively small amounts to regulate specific biological processes. In the industry, vitamins are called by both their letter designation and their medical term, but the same substance is meant.
To simplify matters, here is a table with the most important vitamins for the human body and their alternative names.
|Letter designation||Alternative designation|
|Vitamin B9/B11/M||Folic acid|
|Vitamin C||Ascorbic acid|
Many vitamins, including those in tablet form, do not occur in pure form but are usually contained in chemical compounds that are first released through metabolism. The contents usually indicate which compounds contain which vitamin.
Natural or synthetic vitamins
Vitamins in vitamin tablets can be of natural or synthetic origin. It is important to note that vitamins produced by genetically modified organisms are also considered "natural". If these are genetically modified bacteria kept in closed laboratories, the products derived from them do not have to be labelled.
The situation is different if genetically modified plants have been used. The following vitamins can be produced by means of genetic engineering.
- Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B7
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
However, reputable manufacturers make an effort to clarify this point of reference for the customer. In principle, it is better to use "natural", i.e. organically produced vitamins, than chemically produced synthetic vitamins.
As with all medicines, it is the dose that makes the difference. Too low a dosage may not be beneficial, while too high a dosage may even be detrimental to one's health. When taking more vitamins, be careful not to exceed the recommended daily dose.
Remember: When it comes to health, it is NOT a case of a lot helps a lot. Vitamins should be treated like medicines, which includes strict adherence to the recommended or prescribed dosage.
A healthy person does not really need any food supplements, but minor ailments or major changes in life can cause the body's vitamin balance to become unbalanced. Here, a short-term addition of vitamin tablets can be helpful. In this case, the number of preparations does not have to be large, because you are only bridging the gap for a few months at most.
If, on the other hand, you need a larger quantity, for example because you want to compensate for deficiency symptoms in old age, larger packs are of course more cost-effective.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about vitamin tablets answered in detail
How do vitamin tablets work?
In the following, we would like to give you a short overview of the most important vitamins and briefly explain their function.
Vitamin A is not only good for the eyes and skin, but also plays an important role in the immune system. There is also evidence that a generous supply of vitamin A can maintain vision in old age(1, 2) and deficiencies can be associated with night blindness(3) and severe cases of acne(4, 5).
However, pregnant women should be careful not to overdose on vitamin A. For example, liver, which contains a lot of vitamin A in its pure form, should not be eaten during pregnancy.
Vitamin B1 is a vitamin that is essential for metabolism and body growth. Experts also discuss whether additional vitamin B1 can slow down the course of Alzheimer's disease, as deficiency can sometimes occur in old age(6). Away from advanced age, however, such a deficiency, known in medicine as beriberi, is exceedingly rare, but can occur, for example, in alcoholics.
Vitamin B2 is a component of many enzymes that play an important role in energy production and protein metabolism, and is also important for tissue growth. A deficiency of vitamin B2 is even rarer than a deficiency of vitamin B1. An oversaturation of the body can possibly be reflected in a strong yellow colouring of the urine.
Vitamin B3 is also involved in metabolism and is particularly important for regulating blood sugar. For a long time, niacin was considered a "cholesterol killer", but this reputation is being challenged by recent studies(7).
Historically, vitamin B3 deficiency has been quite well researched through the clinical picture of pellagra. This disease is primarily caused by a very unbalanced diet consisting mainly of maize products.
This vitamin is generally important for the functioning of the skin and mucous membranes, as well as the growth and pigmentation of the hair.
Vitamin B6 is essential for the formation, conversion and breakdown of amino acids in the body. It is also needed for blood formation and keeps the nervous and immune systems running. Currently, there are also indications that vitamin B6 could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease(8, 9).
In medical circles, there is currently a debate about whether depression in old age could be a phenomenon of vitamin B6 deficiency,(10, 11), whereby it should be noted that depression cannot be cured with the addition of vitamin B6(12, 13). It is known that deficiency symptoms in pregnant women can lead to dangerous blood deficiency(14, 15).
This vitamin is necessary for the formation of new sugars in the liver and kidneys, is involved in the breakdown of amino and fatty acids and is important for healthy hair and skin function.
Vitamin B9/B11/M(folic acids)
These three vitamins are generally grouped together under the term folic acids and, together with vitamin B12 and iron, contribute to blood formation. Folic acids are also important for the formation of new cells and necessary for the development of the central nervous system, so a sufficient supply together with vitamin B12 is essential, especially during pregnancy.
There are also indications that folic acids can counteract Alzheimer's disease(16, 17) and prevent diabetes(18, 19, 20).
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of new cells, especially in the bone marrow, and is generally important for growth. An adequate supply of vitamin B12 also seems to counteract age-related vision loss(21), strengthen memory(22, 23) and may counteract the development of skin diseases(24, 25). Especially for pregnant women, an adequate supply of vitamin B12 is important to avoid complications during pregnancy.
Vitamin C, probably the best-known vitamin, is involved in a number of processes in the body, such as fat metabolism and the body's own detoxification, which is why it is also known in medicine as an antioxidant and "radical scavenger". Of course, it is also important for the immune system.
There are also indications that vitamin C counteracts high blood pressure(28, 29) and improves the body's own cholesterol levels(30). It may also protect against mental decline in old age(31, 32, 33).
While vitamin C is undoubtedly important for the body, extreme overdoses (more than 2000 milligrams per day) have become more common due to far too high doses of supplements. Scientifically, mild overdoses are safe(34). However, particularly extreme cases are associated with the formation of kidney stones(35, 36), which is why people with a corresponding history should avoid vitamin C preparations.
Almost as well known as vitamin C is vitamin D, which is mainly important for calcium storage in the bones, but also seems to play an important role in the immune system. Vitamin D also seems to help with weight loss(37, 38)and the development of multiple sclerosis(39), as well as counteracting cardiovascular disease(40). It may also reduce the risk of contracting influenza(41).
The human body can produce its own vitamin D with the help of sunlight. However, especially in cooler latitudes, during darker seasons or for people who spend a lot of time indoors, an undersupply can quickly occur. This is best balanced by a diet that includes milk, eggs or meat. Vegans can resort to mushrooms, provided they are grown in sunlight, and may need to supplement with vitamin tablets.
Similar to vitamin C, vitmain E is involved in the body's detoxification process and plays an important role in the immune system. There is also evidence that vitamin E can increase fertility in both sexes(42, 43) and possibly slow down Alzheimer's disease(32, 33).
Particular caution is advised with vitamin E if other drugs with blood-thinning effects (e.g. aspirin) are taken at the same time(44). Incidentally, there are also studies that point to the possibility of an increased mortality risk with the increase of vitamin E supplements, but these results are by no means conclusive and are controversially discussed(45, 46, 34).
Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and, together with calcium and vitamin D, ensures proper bone formation(47). In addition, studies suggest that vitamin K may be good for the teeth(48, 49), an effect that the intake of vitamin D probably enhances(50).
Vitamin K, both in its K1 variant and even more so in the K2 variant, is a relatively rare vitamin, which makes deficiency possible, even with a balanced diet. It is disputed among experts whether a regular intake of vitamin K2 preprates would make medical sense. It is certain that newborns are often given vitamin K to avoid deficiency symptoms, but this should only be done in consultation with medical professionals(51).
The following table gives a brief overview of the recommended daily dose for each vitamin. Keep in mind that these are guidelines for healthy people and may vary in the case of specific life circumstances. We recommend that you consult a doctor if you think you are deficient despite following these guidelines.
|Vitamin||Alternative name||Recommended daily dose|
|A||Retinol||Children: 0.6-1.1 mg Adolescents/adults: 0.8-1.0 mg Breastfeeding: 1.5 mg|
|B1||Thiamine||Children: 0.6-1.4 mg Adolescents/adults: 1.0-1.3 mg Breastfeeding: 1.4 mg|
|B2||Riboflavin||Children: 0.7-1.6 mg Adolescents/adults: 1.2-1.5 mg Breastfeeding: 1.6 mg|
|B3||Niacin||Children: 7-18 mg Adolescents/adults: 13-17 mg|
|B5||Pantothenic acid||Children: 4-6 mg Adolescents/adults: 6 mg|
|B6||Pyridoxine||Children: 0.4-1.4 mg Adolescents/adults: 1.2-1.6 mg Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 1.9 mg|
|B7||Biotin||Children: 10-35 µg Adolescents/adults 30-60 µg|
|B9/B11/M||Folic acid||Children: 200-400 µg Adolescents/adults: 400 µg Pregnant/breastfeeding women: 600 µg|
|B12||Cobalamin||Children: 1.0-3.0 µg Adolescents/adults: 3.0 µg Pregnant women: 3.5 µg Lactating women: 4.0 µg|
|C||ascorbic acid||Children: 60-100 mg Adolescents/adults: 100 mg (smokers : 150 mg) Pregnant women: 110 mg Lactating women: 150 mg|
|D||-||Infants: 10 µg Children/adults: 5 µg Seniors (65+): 10 µg|
|E||Tocopherol||Children: 6-14 mg Adolescents/adults: 12-15 mg Breastfeeding: 17 mg|
|K||-||Infants: 4-10 µg Children: 15-50 µg Adolescents/adults: 60-80 µg|
As with many other substances, the same applies to vitamins: The dose makes the poison. Do not be alarmed. It is relatively difficult to cause a vitamin overdose yourself, even with high-dose food supplements, and almost impossible with a simple diet.
As with many other substances, the same applies to vitamins: The dose makes the poison.
One exception, however, is vitamin A. Pregnant women should take special care and avoid consuming liver during pregnancy. An undersupply of vitamins, on the other hand, is usually reflected in very ambiguous symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite and an easier susceptibility to infections. These symptoms can be signs of a vitamin deficiency, but they do not have to be. We recommend that you see a doctor if your symptoms persist.
How much do vitamin tablets cost?
|Price category||Price in €|
Low-price vitamin tablets are sometimes popular, but they are usually not as high in dosage as the higher-priced versions, so their effect is much weaker. They also often contain unnecessary additives.
How should vitamin tablets be taken?
- Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K should always be taken in combination with a meal.
- Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and the entire B family, on the other hand, should be taken in combination with liquid.
It makes sense to take vitamins D, C and B in the morning, as these vitamins are suspected of making it difficult to fall asleep, although there are no scientific studies on this. Conversely, vitamin B3 is said to make it easier to fall asleep, according to reports.
However, this is not confirmed. Vitamin D is also best taken together with vitamin K, as they support each other in their effect.
When and for whom is it useful to take vitamin tablets?
Especially in critical phases such as pregnancy, recovery from operations or in the course of radical dietary changes, it is important not to overshoot the mark.
For children, vitamin tablets are superfluous at best; a balanced diet is usually quite sufficient to cover the vitamin balance. Newborns are usually given vitamin K, but this should be done by medical professionals(51).
People who want to follow a vegan diet face a major challenge, especially vitamin B12, as it is found almost exclusively in animal products, with the exception of mushrooms. Supplementing the diet with B12 is almost inevitable in this case, which is why many vegan alternatives to milk also contain vitamin B12 as an additive.
For people over 50, the increase in vitamin tablets can be quite useful. Increasing loss of appetite in old age can cause deficiencies, the symptoms of which can sometimes considerably reduce the quality of life. These range from depression(10, 11, 52) to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's(6, 8, 16, 17, 31, 33).
Conversely, certain vitamins seem to have a very positive effect on the ageing body, such as vitamin B12, which counteracts the age-related loss of vision(21). Of course, there are also opposing opinions, especially with regard to vitamin E, which, despite its positive effect on mental health in old age(32, 33), is also suspected of increasing the risk of death.
However, this suspected connection is based purely on statistics; a medical explanation as to why E vitamins could increase the risk of death has yet to be found(45, 46, 34).
Can vitamin tablets be harmful?
In addition, attention must be paid to interactions with other medications, especially the aforementioned vitamin E seems to be particularly risky in this regard, as even weaker medications such as aspirin can cause interactions(44).
Do vitamin tablets improve one's health?
Do vitamin pills replace eating fruits and vegetables?
In principle, it is even advisable to first try to change one's diet if a vitamin deficiency is detected, before resorting to preparations in tablet form.
In principle, if a vitamin deficiency is detected, one should first try to change one's diet before resorting to tablet preparations. In the short term, vitamin tablets can be used together with a new diet to compensate for a temporary vitamin deficiency, but this should not be a permanent solution.
Do vitamin tablets help with weight loss?
However, long-term use is not advisable because vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, can accumulate in the body. The threshold values for when vitamin D can become harmful are generally very high, but can reach critical levels when supplements are taken regularly and can lead to a sometimes even life-threatening increase in calcium in the blood(55, 56).
Image source: Diana Polekhina / unsplash
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