Choose brands labeled with the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratory, or Consumer Lab seal. These verify that the product actually contains the ingredients that the label says and that the product does not contain any potentially harmful ingredients. So does the form make any difference? I have found that patients who take cheap multivitamins often continue to have vitamin deficiencies, but those who take a vitamin in better forms, such as methylcobalamin, are not deficient. A good test to assess your nutritional status is the micronutrient test, or FIA, which measures the levels of nutrients within cells.
This test can be used to see if vitamins are getting to where they should go, inside the cell. Nearly all over-the-counter vitamin manufacturers use cyanocobalamin, the synthetic form, because it's cheap and has a longer shelf life. Those that come in various forms or are part of blends are best purchased from reputable supplement and vitamin companies. Some of these supplement brands seem so legitimate that you have to be a very smart consumer to look beyond clever marketing and see what the product actually contains.
Each vitamin has the form indicated on the side and each one is the best available, best absorbed and most bioavailable form. Always talk to a doctor or dietician about which vitamins or nutrients are essential and the right amounts to consume regularly. A quick analysis of the ingredients by his trained eye showed that the iron supplement had complementary nutrients with too few ingredients to be effective and used cheap forms of various vitamins that my body would not absorb. But what few people realize is that supplements and vitamins aren't as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Vitamin D and calcium can be purchased at pharmacies such as Walgreens or CVS, since there's not a big difference between low and high quality forms, Block says. Even home-brand vitamins and supplements that are sold under the name of a store are more likely to be produced by trusted manufacturers who also produce supplements for domestic brands. However, these vitamins are equivalent to unhealthy mass-produced processed foods full of synthetic ingredients and preservatives. Many people aren't sure about the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of a vitamin or nutrient needed to provide the optimal amount of nutrition.
In the case of vitamins and supplements, I think you get what you pay for (or what you don't pay for). These are associated with health benefits, as multivitamins are used for general health, vitamin D for improving mood and bone health, calcium for bone health, and omega-3s for heart and brain health.