Do I need a multivitamin? How do I choose the best one for me?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

We generally think of malnutrition as a plight specific to developing nations and associate it with the lack of food. The trouble we experience in westernized countries is more often “hidden hunger”, or the insufficient consumption of essential nutrition, hidden by the fact that we technically have plenty to eat [1]. 

Processed foods are inexpensive, well-preserved, and designed to taste delicious by most standards, but they provide very few vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that our bodies depend on to thrive. While one can survive on foods made with white flour, corn syrup, and other modified starches, a lack of essential nutrition in those foods can lead to a multitude of health problems. Many suffer simultaneously from both obesity and malnutrition.

Isn’t a healthy diet better than a daily multivitamin?

If you are reading this blog, or subscribe to our newsletter, you are likely already aware that processed foods are not a healthy backbone for your diet. However, you may still be on the fence about a multivitamin, as you are sure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals from your “balanced diet”. This may not be the case.

For a long time, the future of food quantity has been in question as our global population grows. For generations, crops have been selected for their total output over their nutritional quality. This means we generally eat with less diversity than our ancestors. It also means many types of food we consume contain a lot less nutrition than they did in past generations [1]. 

The fallout from these changes is that we need to eat more (namely fruits and vegetables) to get enough nutrition. Add to this factor that many nutrients are damaged, or made less absorbable by the way we cook, and you can still end up with a deficit in nutrition with what (by all accounts) is a very healthy diet. Food should always be our main source of nutrition, but multivitamins can help fill in the gaps where our food sources fall short.

What multivitamin should I take? What is the best multivitamin?

There are so many factors that make you the unique individual that you are. As such, there is no perfect diet for all humans, nor a perfect dietary supplement to benefit every body. However, very, very few humans are eating a perfect diet for their unique nutritional needs, and generally, multivitamin/mineral formula supplements are a terrific way to fill in the nutritional gaps. 

For example, is your diet high in protein but potentially lacking in the fruit/veggie department? You may be short on antioxidants and magnesium. Are you a vegetarian? You may be low on B vitamins or iron. Vegan? You may also need more choline and calcium. 

Even if you are a true omnivore with a talent for meal planning around balanced nutrition, it can be hard to consume all of the nutrients we need without consuming a caloric overload. Again, a multivitamin is not an excuse to eat poorly, it is a safety net that provides backup nutrition when your otherwise healthy food contains less than you need.

A great multivitamin contains high-quality nutrients in generous, but safe quantities and highly absorbable forms, so you can be confident that the ingredients on the label will actually end up in your circulation. Depending on your unique biology, you may need more or less of some nutrients, so a great multivitamin can also be paired with other supplements, complementing your diet.

I’m ready to start taking a multi. Which Metabolic Maintenance® multivitamin/mineral formula is right for me?

There are a lot of options when it comes to selecting a multivitamin/mineral supplement. Here are some of our most loved formulas, with some information on why each might provide the benefits you are seeking.

We hope these descriptions are helpful, but of course, the best way to definitively determine which supplements you need daily is to have an exam and a blood test analyzed by a physician. 

Basic Maintenance® 

The most inclusive formula Metabolic Maintenance® offers is the Basic Maintenance® formula. Basic Maintenance® is a two-capsule daily dose of “a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral formula to fulfill nutritional needs where diet and lifestyle fall short.” Like all of Metabolic Maintenance®’s formulas, it has been designed by physicians, based on clinical research and what the average, healthy adult will benefit most from in terms of supplementary nutrition. 

Unlike many grocery/drugstore multivitamins, it contains the active, absorbable forms of B-complex vitamins. This includes L-methylfolate, the only form of folate known to cross the blood-brain barrier. It also somewhat uniquely contains a safe but potent dose of vitamin D-3. Many Americans are deficient in this vitamin, as our main source is sun exposure, and modern work/school schedules and sunscreen (and the awareness of the potential dangers of sun exposure) keep many of us from making enough vitamin D internally.

The Big One®

For those who prefer taking one capsule to two, and are looking for greater potency of most essential nutrients that Basic Maintenance® provides, there is The Big One® series. Available with and without iron or extra vitamin D, The Big One® is a high-potency, one-per-day multivitamin/mineral capsule. 

The Big One® with Iron is recommended for those who menstruate during their childbearing years (when iron requirements are higher), those requiring supplementary iron due to low dietary intake (such as vegetarian diet), or those with health issues potentially associated with anemia. 

As iron is a mineral we should be careful not to overconsume, you may want to ask your doctor before taking any supplement containing iron. The Big One® without Iron is therefore recommended for those who have lower iron requirements (those who do not menstruate and cannot become pregnant) or consume a high-iron diet.

The Big One® Plus without Iron contains 2000 IU of supplemental vitamin D-3. This is twice the dose contained in Basic Maintenance® or The Big One® and may be of greater benefit for those who require extra vitamin D for a variety of health reasons. While the potential dangers of taking too much vitamin D are significantly less severe than taking too much iron, it is always prudent to discuss the benefits of a new supplement with your trusted healthcare provider before incorporating them into your daily health regimen.


Whether or not you plan to become pregnant, the risks of maternal nutritional deficiency combined with the high percentage of unplanned pregnancies suggest that any person who may be fertile should take extra care of their nutritional health. FemOne™ is a one-a-day capsule designed specifically to deliver essential nutrients at optimal levels to support reproductive and immune health to females during potential childbearing years. FemOne™ is also appropriate to support a healthy pregnancy as a prenatal vitamin/prenatal support supplement. 

VitalEyes™ Complete

As we age, many of us notice our vision decline, which can be associated with the type and quantity of nutrition available to our eyes [2-4]. VitalEyes™ includes both a full-spectrum multivitamin/mineral formula and a potent antioxidant protection formula that provides optimal nutrition for the longevity of visual health. It has been designed by physicians based on data from well-respected Age-Related Eye Disease Studies and the Veteran’s Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial (LAST) [2-4]. 

Vitamin/Mineral Base Powder

Perhaps you are not a fan of swallowing pills and capsules, period. In that case, a flavorless, powdered general multivitamin/mineral formula might be the best daily multivitamin for you. You can stir the Vitamin/Mineral Base Powder into water, juice, coffee, a green smoothie, or whatever beverage you start your day with. As a “base” powder, it can complement the addition of other supplementary nutrients, depending on your unique nutritional needs. It is also easy to adjust the dosing of this powder by adding more or less of the formula to your liquid of choice.

Pediatric Vitamin/Mineral Base Powder

Although logically it may seem that a child’s smaller body may require a smaller dose of an adult vitamin formula, that is not necessarily the case. The period of rapid growth children are undergoing requires certain nutrients in different potencies and percentages than those necessary for the maintenance of an adult body. Therefore, the Pediatric Vitamin/Mineral Base Powder has been specifically formulated as a daily nutritional supplement to meet children’s unique nutritional needs for growth and development. The powdered form makes it easy to take and easy to adjust the dosage.

Little One®

If your child can swallow a small capsule, Little One® is a wonderful one-a-day multivitamin supporting children’s unique nutritional needs from ages 6-12. It offers a slightly different formula of vitamins and minerals than the Pediatric Vitamin/Mineral Base Powder and includes iron, zinc, and more potent doses of L-methylfolate, biotin, and pantothenic acid (vitamins B-9, B-7, and B-5, respectively). Again, a conversation with your child’s pediatrician is a great way to establish confidence in your choice of a multivitamin.


  1. Padulosi, S., et al. “30 underutilized crops: trends, challenges and opportunities in the 21st century.” Managing plant genetic diversity (2002): 323.
  2. AREDS Research Group. The age-related eye disease study (AREDS): the results of the clinical trial. Insight. 2002, Jan-Mar; 27(1): 5-7.
  3. AREDS2 Research Group. Lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related eye disease study 2 (AREDS2) controlled randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013 pub online May 5.
  4. Richer S, et al. Double-masked, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of lutein and antioxidant supplementation in the intervention of atrophic age-related macular degeneration: the veteran’s LAST study (lutein antioxidant supplementation trial). Optometry. 2004; 75: 216-30.