Vitamins and Supplements
13 Vitamin Brands Doctors Trust Most
Overwhelmed in the supplements aisle? Doctors, pharmacists, and nutritionists share which vitamins they trust and buy themselves.
Know what to look for
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Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the way drugs are, so how do you know the product that you’re buying contains the ingredients the label says it does and that it has been manufactured properly and doesn’t contain contaminants? Look for verification from a third party, such as the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com, says John Travis, senior research scientist at NSF International. “Most supplement manufacturers are committed to ensuring quality and safety, but there are a few irresponsible and unscrupulous companies out there whose actions are putting consumers at risk,” says Travis. No matter which supplement you choose, check with your pharmacist that it’s safe to take with any other medications and supplements that you consume. You can look up potential negative interactions through the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Here are some of the vitamins and supplements experts tell us they trust.
Multivitamin: Klaire Labs Multi VitaPrime
“Pharmaceutical-grade supplements are usually higher quality,” says Hallie Armstrong, ND, an adjunct instructor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, MI. “Some pharmaceutical-grade brands include Klaire Labs, Designs for Health, Ortho Molecular, and Metagenics. It is important to look for and avoid fillers, including dyes that make supplements less optimally absorbed. Multi VitaPrime by Klaire Labs includes the methylated form of B vitamins, which helps with absorbability.” Actually absorbing them is the first step in making sure supplements work for you—here are a few other simple ways to make your vitamins more effective.
Multivitamin: Swisse Women’s Ultivite Multivitamin Tablets
“My go-to recommendation for a multivitamin is the Swisse Ultivite line,” says dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, founder of Vernon Center for Nutrition and Wellness in Franklin, NJ. “The Ultivite contains over 50 vitamins, minerals, and herbs—making it one of the most comprehensive multivitamins on the market. Eight clinical trials have been conducted on the Ultivite, which back the claims that this multivitamin can provide support during stress and assist energy levels, stamina, and vitality. Although the brand just recently launched in the United States, it’s the No. 1 selling supplement brand in Australia, which means it follows Australia’s more stringent regulations and ensures that the product contains only high-quality ingredients that do what they say they do.”
Magnesium supplement: Thorne Magnesium Bisglycinate
“Thorne brand is one of my favorites,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, a certified sports dietitian in Philadelphia. “The magnesium bisglycinate powder is great for anyone who needs a little help relaxing to fall asleep or who has very tight muscles. I recommend it for both athletes with busy schedules as well as individuals with anxiety,” says Jones. “It not only has the NSF Certified for Sport verification but its quality is so high that it’s the official supplement line of a variety of U.S. national teams.” Looking for a high-quality seal like the one from the NSF is one secret to buying a quality supplement. Check out these other secrets that some vitamin manufacturers don’t want you to know.
Omega-3 supplement: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
“Where I work, we measure omega-3 fatty acids in blood work,” says Mary Purdy, MS, RD, a dietitian in Seattle, WA. “Nordic Naturals is a brand I wholly trust not only because of the research I have done on the quality and transparency of the company but because I have seen actual results when patients have consumed the supplements recommended.” Check out the nutrients even nutritionists don’t get enough of.
Digestive health: NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules
“I’m a big fan of NOW because it conducts more than 16,000 tests per month on its raw ingredients and finished products to ensure what’s on the label is in the bottle,” says dietitian Christy Brissette, MS, RD, president of 80 Twenty Nutrition in Chicago, IL. “It has the Good Manufacturing Practices logo on all of its supplements. That means it has met the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices and been certified by the Natural Products Association. I love the psyllium husk 500 milligram capsules. Psyllium is a natural soluble fiber that forms a gel when combined with water. Fiber helps promote regularity and intestinal health. It may also help with weight control because it can help you feel more full. Some of my clients with irritable bowel syndrome find that taking psyllium helps symptoms.”
Digestive health: IM HealthScience IBgard
“This is my favorite quick-fix supplement for clients with digestive distress,” says Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, a dietitian in Fairfax, VA. “Several clinical research studies have shown that it helps decrease pain in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. I find it works particularly well for clients who are experiencing bloating and pain. Since it’s purified peppermint oil, it’s very safe. The main side effect is peppermint burps.”
Immune health: Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup
“Unfortunately, the world of vitamins and supplements is not easy to navigate,” says Lana Dvorkin Camiel, PharmD, a professor of pharmacy practice at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health in Boston. “Gaia Herbs sells natural products that have fewer steps in the manufacturing process. Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup is used for a healthy immune system, and you can take it at the first sign of cold or flu.” Many experts swear by elderberry syrup—and here are 16 vitamins and supplements doctors take regularly.
Joint health: Terry Naturally Vitamins CuraMed
“This is the form of curcumin used in most research studies,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist in Kona, HI, and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic. “It includes turmeric essential oil, which increases absorption almost sevenfold.” Many people assume that plants and herbs are not as “strong” as pharmaceutical medications and therefore do not work as well. But that’s not necessarily true. Some research suggests curcumin may be more effective than Celebrex for arthritis when combined with boswellia, notes Dr. Teitelbaum. It’s also a myth that herbs are always safe and never have side effects, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist, and read up on these additional vitamin myths you have to stop believing.
Menopausal support: Asensia
“I like this formula because it meets a need for a good portion of my patients, who are either menopausal or in perimenopause and looking for ways to balance their hormones as an alternative to, for example, hormone replacement therapy,” says naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith, ND, medical director of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu, HI. “The formula contains chasteberry, which, in combination with Asensia’s other ingredients helps women naturally produce more progesterone. This positively impacts their whole endocrine system, especially by helping to balance their levels of estrogen.”
Prenatal health: SmartyPants Prenatal Complete
“I really trust SmartyPants gummy vitamins because it’s clear to me that all of their products are formulated with delivering the best product possible to the user in mind,” says Diana K. Rice, RD, a dietitian in St. Louis, MO. “In addition to creating delicious, easy-to-consume vitamins with no artificial colors or flavors, the brand intentionally uses the most bioavailable form of each nutrient in the products. My favorite product is the prenatal vitamin. The pregnant women I work with so often have a hard time swallowing pills or keeping them down, so a gummy option is a great alternative. The SmartyPants prenatal, in particular, is one of the few over-the-counter vitamins that contains methylfolate, which is the food form of folate. Methylfolate supplementation has been shown to reduce the incidence of anemia in pregnancy, versus supplementation with the more commonly used folic acid. Methylfolate is also the form of folate that is better utilized by individuals with the very common MTHFR gene mutation, which is a concern for many pregnant women.”
Sleep support: Nature Made Melatonin
“As a pharmacist, I get asked many times, ‘what do you recommend?’ says Fernando Gonzalez, RPh, MS, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY. “One of the supplements I recommend is melatonin, a hormone that is naturally produced by the body. It is believed to help with the circadian rhythm cycle, which is your sleep clock. Usually melatonin is stimulated by darkness. As we age, we tend to produce less melatonin. Any vitamin or supplement I buy must have the USP seal. I chose Nature Made Melatonin, in the 5 milligram dosage. This is made in a laboratory, not naturally, which I prefer—the natural version is obtained from the pineal gland of various animals and could have other contaminants. Check with your healthcare provider before giving to children or if pregnant or breastfeeding.” Need more help getting to sleep? Try these strategies for insomnia.
Vitamin B12: Nature Made Vitamin B12
“You may find that certain brands seem to be more reliable than others; Nature Made’s B12 tablets are USP verified,” says Pat Salber, MD, an internist and emergency medicine physician in Larkspur, CA. Dr. Salber takes vitamin B12 daily for a documented B12 deficiency—do you have any of these silent signs you aren’t getting enough vitamins?
Vitamin D: MegaFood Vitamin D
“I like this product because it’s made from organic, sustainably grown high-quality whole foods,” says Abbey Sharp, RD, a dietitian in Toronto. “I believe these whole foods to be the best source of nourishment.” Vitamin D3 is the vitamin’s active form that your body prefers.
- John Travis, senior research scientist, NSF International, Ann Arbor, MI.
- Hallie Armstrong, ND, adjunct instructor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Rochester, MI.
- Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, founder of Vernon Center for Nutrition and Wellness, Franklin, NJ.
- Kelly Jones, MS, RD, certified sports dietitian, Philadelphia, PA.
- Mary Purdy, MS, RD, dietitian, Seattle, WA.
- Christy Brissette, MS, RD, president, 80 Twenty Nutrition, Chicago, IL.
- Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, dietitian, Fairfax, VA.
- Lana Dvorkin Camiel, PharmD, professor of pharmacy practice, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health, Boston, MA.
- Laurie Steelsmith, ND, medical director, Steelsmith Natural Health Center, Honolulu, HI.
- Diana K. Rice, RD, dietitian, St. Louis, MO.
- Fernando Gonzalez, RPh, MS, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.
- Pat Salber, MD, internist and emergency physician, Larkspur, CA.
- Abbey Sharp, RD, dietitian, Toronto, Canada.