Science

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Men’s Multivitamin

7 min read
Not all men’s multivitamins are created equal—considerations like age, genetic variations, and dietary restrictions all play a role in how a supplement performs in the body. Finding the best multivitamin match for you comes down to asking the right questions. Allow us to explain.
Not all men’s multivitamins are created equal—considerations like age, genetic variations, and dietary restrictions all play a role in how a supplement performs in the body. Finding the best multivitamin match for you comes down to asking the right questions. Allow us to explain.

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If you’re considering a daily multivitamin (and there’s a host of reasons why you may want to), it’s worth taking the time to dig a little deeper. Why? The truth is, not all multivitamins are created equal—and the key to finding the best multivitamin match for you comes down to asking the right questions.

As counterintuitive as it might sound, ensuring it contains essential nutrients is just the starting point—actually, it’s kind of the bare minimum. To reap the full spectrum of support, there’s much more you’ll want to take into account beyond nutritional needs before making the commitment (think factors like genetic variations, dietary restrictions, even age). Ideally, this process is about finding the right fit, your forever favorite—and by putting in the necessary due diligence now, you’re paving the way toward creating a habit that will actually stick around for the long-term.

Call it what you want: being a skeptic (we feel you), dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s, doing the research… We call it building a Ritual. Let’s get into the specifics!

First up: What does the supply chain look like?

Simply put, if you don’t know… It’s probably a no-go. It may seem like a tall order—that is, using supply chain transparency as a prerequisite for consideration—but holding your multivitamin supplement (or any dietary supplement, really) to this standard helps ensure you’re shopping from brands that you can trust with your health. At Ritual, we call this Traceability: the non-negotiable belief that you should know what you’re putting into your body and why—along with the quality and sourcing of said ingredients. While you might assume being upfront is the norm, the reality is more surprising: None of the five best-selling men’s multivitamins share the supplier, final location of manufacturing, and purpose of each ingredient on their site.† Essential for Men is Made Traceable™—the supplier, final location of manufacturing, and purpose of each ingredient is on Ritual.com.

†Based on the top 5 US men’s multivitamin brands by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

Does it contain key nutrients in bioavailable forms?

The answer to the latter part of this question is critical, as it reveals not only how much thought the brand puts into the efficacy of their products, but also the degree to which it relies on science to inform the formulation—an important factor to consider for helping to support overall health, not just men’s health. A quick crash course: Bioavailability refers to the extent to which a substance becomes entirely available to its biological destination(s)—in other words, how successfully a nutrient reaches its intended landing place. (1) When it comes to supplementation, bioavailability is key: to help support well-being and help fill nutrient gaps in the diet, ensuring that your multivitamin contains key nutrient forms that the body can efficiently use can make all the difference.

Consider the B-vitamin folate, for example: More than one-third of adults have a genetic variation that makes it difficult to efficiently utilize it, and all five best-selling men’s multivitamins use the synthetic form of folate—also known as folic acid.† We went the extra mile; Essential for Men uses 5-MTHF, a bioavailable form of folate, which you can read more about here.*

†Based on the top 5 US men’s multivitamin brands by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

Are there added sugars, artificial colors, and/or artificial preservatives?

When it comes to choosing a multivitamin, it’s not just about what’s inside—what’s left out is equally as important. Though, for the record, Essential for Men 18+ contains vitamin K2 and omega-3 DHA (we get our fatty acids from vegan algal oil instead of fish oil) to support brain health and heart health; vitamin D (we use vitamin D3) and chelated magnesium to support bone health and normal muscle function; and vitamin A and zinc to help support normal immune function. It also contains vitamin E for antioxidant support, along with boron, vitamin B12, and folate. (We left out calcium and vitamin C for a reason.)*

Ideally, you want to opt for a formula without shady fillers or extras—which include things like added sugars, artificial colors, and/or artificial preservatives (a good rule of thumb in general, but especially salient for a supplement designed to be taken on a daily basis). That means looking for brands that utilize natural sweeteners or flavoring alternatives (hello, minty tab) to enhance taste. It also means opting for brands that leave out things like GMOs and major allergens. We’ve got you covered: In addition to being gluten-free, Essential for Men is non-GMO and formulated without sugar or artificial colors and preservatives.* (In contrast, all five best-selling men’s multivitamins contain extra ingredients like sugar, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives.)†

†Based on the top 5 US men’s multivitamin brands by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

Let’s talk about dietary restrictions—is it vegan-friendly?

The term “vegan-friendly” may seem straightforward, but it’s worth digging a little deeper into what, exactly, it means to each respective brand. At Ritual, what constitutes “vegan-friendly” isn’t just a lack of animal products—it also extends to our supply chain philosophy, taking into account our suppliers and manufacturers. (Take our omega-3 DHA, for example, which is intentionally sourced from microalgae instead of fish.) Something else it applies to? Our approach to formulating, which factors in common gaps that occur from plant-based diets. All five best-selling men’s multivitamins contain animal products†, so if you identify as vegan—or just prefer a plant-based way of eating—keep an eye out. (Essential for Men, on the other hand, is vegan-friendly.)

†Based on the top 5 US men’s multivitamin brands by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

Last but certainly not least: How easy is it to take?

Let’s clear things up right off the bat: One of the foundations of supporting health is proper nutrition—and trying to “out-supplement” out of a not-so-ideal approach to eating isn’t the move. In other words, we suggest a food-first approach to nutrition—aiming to meet the recommended daily values through a balanced, whole foods-based diet. That way, multivitamins can be used for their intended purpose: as a supplement, instead of a corrective measure or quick fix (not that those exist anyway).

While you should aim to [get your nutrients through food first] (https://ritual.com/articles/food-first-philosophy)—one of the best ways to support nutrient needs is through a healthy, balanced diet—we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the convenience or enjoyability factor. From outlining where we acquire our ingredients from to ensuring your multivitamins show up on your doorstep when you need them, we aim to streamline the process and make showing up for yourself as easy as possible. Case in point: Essential for Men is delivered monthly through Ritual.com—no store visits necessary. (None of the five best-selling men’s multivitamins offer subscriptions through their website.†) Not to mention our delayed-release, beadlet-in-oil technology and minty-fresh essence, which make for a routine that tastes as good as it looks.

†Based on the top 5 US men’s multivitamin brands by 2019 & trailing 12 month retail sales (through April '20)

The essential takeaway

There’s a lot to consider before committing to one daily multivitamin, and with all the options and forms available (multivitamin tablets, multivitamin gummies, softgels, etc.), getting clear on what your non-negotiables are can be a huge help. For example, older men✧ may want to seek out a life stage-specific multivitamin—in which case they should find a brand that formulates with the specific nutrient needs of this life stage in mind. The way we see it? When it comes to our health, sometimes it pays to be picky. As always, if you have questions about multivitamins, supplementation, or nutrition, we recommend reaching out to a healthcare provider or dietitian.*

Speaking of multivitamins... Curious about the FDA’s role in the supplement industry?

References:

  1. Price, G., & Patel, D. A. (2020). ...Bioavailability. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing LLC.

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