Despite what your favorite health and wellness personality on Instagram might have you believe, not all of the popular multivitamins out there are created equal—no matter how trendy they or their packaging may seem. Same goes for the not-so-savvily marketed options that have been around for ages.
It's true that multivitamins can move mountains for your health. In addition to helping you close nutritional gaps1 for a variety of vitamins and minerals, a quality multi can support longevity, immune function, brain health, and so much more.*
However, the benefits you reap from a multivitamin depend on its formula—and the annoying truth is that there are loads of incomplete multi formulas out there parading around as comprehensive, all-in-one nutritional buddies.
As mbg's VP of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, puts it, "Listen, there's no nutrition police out there checking to see if your 'complete' multivitamin is complete in actuality. You have to check yourself."
And though every trendy-looking product out there is a little different, there's one group of nutrients in particular that often gets the boot when a brand decides to cut corners: minerals.
Lots of multivitamins fall short on key minerals.
Though you might think iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium are the only minerals you need, these are actually just a few of the full array of minerals required for optimal health and bodily function*—and many of them are often missing from multivitamin formulas, according to Ferira, nutrition scientist and supplement expert.
"Macrominerals are larger in size and take up more space," Ferira explains. "When included in premium forms, minerals aren't cheap." For both of these reasons, they're often added to multivitamin formulas in mediocre amounts or left out altogether.
We should point out that macrominerals technically also include electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and phosphorus (for which dietary consumption is plentiful, if not excessive) and sulfur. But as Ferira points out, "Sulfur has no daily nutritional requirement (otherwise known as RDA) since we consume it daily via sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine and cysteine via protein." You won't find these four minerals in your multi (and that's normal/OK) unless it's a powder formula, which often adds sodium chloride (salt) for the taste factor.
But we digress...back to calcium, magnesium, and the like. So one move, in particular, that a lot of big names in the multivitamin game make, according to Ferira: leaving calcium out of vitamins that are marketed toward men, which, she says, is a huge mistake.
"These brands must not have consulted a dietitian, because an R.D. would have told them that the calcium needs and requirements for men are high: 1,000 milligrams every day until age 50 and then 1,200 milligrams daily from ages 51 on up," she explains. "They also just so happen to be identical to the needs of women. Men have bone health and density needs, too!"* Oh, and almost 40% of our nation has a calcium gap in their diet1, so point taken.
Iron, which is a micromineral, is another one that often gets left out, specifically in multis targeted toward men and older adults. Still, "iron is an essential mineral that is literally required for the health of every red blood cell in our body to effectively function and carry oxygen to our cells and tissues," Ferira says. While women of reproductive age do require more iron than men (18 milligrams compared to 8), the mineral is becoming increasingly important all around as people move toward more plant-based diets since bioavailable iron is primarily found in meat, she notes.*
In addition to dropping the ball on these bigger-name minerals, many multi formulas also provide insufficient amounts of lesser-talked-about trace minerals—if they include them at all. (Again, these nutrients take up space, require thoughtful formulation, and cost money!)
Several microminerals that should be included in a complete multi but often aren't: zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and chromium. "It's a shame since we also have daily needs for each of these essential microminerals, which have critical and diverse roles in our body," says Ferira. Nonessential trace minerals that are even less seldom featured, meanwhile, include boron, silica, and others, which support critical body functions like bone and skin health.*
Why this matters.
Though some manufacturers might brush this fact under the rug, "let's not forget that 'multi' is actually short for 'multivitamin/mineral supplement,' as in multiple from the Latin word multus meaning 'much or many,'" Ferira says. "So, that's what customers assume is inside, a wide and complete array of minerals."
Not only is skimping on minerals a sneaky move, but it also renders a multi formula incomplete, which ultimately limits the full extent and spectrum of benefits even the most habitual supplement taker can reap from their routine.
How to find a multi that doesn't cut corners on minerals.
Since the benefits you reap from a daily multi are only as complete as the multi itself, there are a few things, in particular, that Ferira recommends looking out for when hunting for a formula that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to minerals:
- Macrominerals: calcium, magnesium, and potassium
- Microminerals: iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and chromium
- Trace minerals (as a bonus): boron, silica, etc.
The bottom line.
In addition to providing the above minerals in clinically effective doses, a truly premium multivitamin includes them in gentle, bioavailable formats whenever possible. Zinc bisglycinate, for example, beats out other forms when it comes to bioavailability and easiness on the stomach, Ferira notes. It depends on the mineral, but premium forms typically include chelates and marine-sourced minerals.*
Finding a formula that checks all of these boxes can be a tall order (and require quite a bit of product label detective work), which is why mbg created ultimate multivitamin+. It's thoughtfully formulated to provide a truly complete array of the variety of minerals your body needs (in addition to essential fat- and water-soluble vitamins and longevity botanicals) in the highest-quality forms available.*
Lauren Del Turco, CPT is a freelance health and wellness writer, editor, and content strategist who covers everything from nutrition to mental health to spirituality. Del Turco is also an ACE-certified personal trainer. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. When she’s not on deadline, you’ll find Del Turco hiking with her dogs, experimenting with new plant-based recipes, or curled up with a book and tea.