There are over 1,500 different multivitamin products available today. While their ingredients all sound the same, the way your body uses these supplements can differ.
So I’m going to tell you about a resource that will help you find out if the supplement you’re taking is any good. It’s called the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.
A biochemist named Lyle MacWilliam painstakingly analyzed over 1,500 different nutritional products sold throughout North America. His findings are based on eighteen important health support criteria, including completeness, potency, and potential toxicities.
In short, each product receives a score from 0-5. The best performing multivitamins are further ranked using an Olympic-like scale, receiving gold, silver, or bronze designations.
Before buying a product that someone recommends to you, look it up in this book first. When I started doing this, I was stunned by how shoddy and insufficient many of the most common brands are… even the kind recommended by Dr. Oz and other famous physicians!
What Differentiates “Good” From “Bad” Vitamins?
A supplement is only as good as your body’s ability to break it down and absorb its useable nutrients. This is known as bioavailability. No matter who endorses it or how compelling the ingredients label sounds, if your body can’t assimilate these nutrients it’s a schlocky vitamin.
Here’s a picture that shows seven completely undigested supplements as they pass through the intestines. Many of the poorest quality vitamins exit the body with the same shape they entered it… So there’s really no point in buying these. Here’s another example.
How Much Do the Best Brands Cost?
I sorted through the list and tabulated monthly costs for a handful of the highest scoring multivitamins (brands that I would personally buy). The average cost was $45.31. So if you want quality supplements with potent bioavailability, expect to pay approximately $1.50/day.
Money Down the Drain
The wholesale price of vitamins is typically 50% less than the prices charged at doctor’s offices and nutrition stores. Always check online prices before buying from supplement salesmen. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I’ve bought nutrition products cheaper online than I could using my physician discount!
What About Brands That Aren’t Listed?
In 2003 there were about 500 supplements analyzed. By 2007, that number tripled! When vitamin makers design a quality product, they want the world to know about it. But not every company manufacturers world class vitamins. So these businesses are much less likely to invite independent laboratories to scrutinize their products.
Over the years, I’ve surmised that vitamin brands not listed in MacWilliam’s book usually fall into one of three groups:
- The manufacturer wouldn’t authorize NutriSearch’s analysis (Hiding something?)
- It’s a meretricious product sold via multi-level marketing (Pyramid schemes)
- They’re a faceless fly-by-night operation that frequently changes names/labels (Shady!)
I recognize and appreciate how powerful the placebo effect can be… If you fervently believe that the product you’re taking makes a noticeable improvement in your health, then I think you should keep taking it. But if you can’t tell, or you’re just not sure what to buy, this book is a fantastic resource.
UPDATE: Since the release of this article, I came across an additional online resource that you may find valuable. It’s called examine.com, and offers fantastic research-based information on how effective your supplements are (or aren’t). Check it out!