MULTIVITAMINSYour guide to different types of multivitamins.

Synthetic Vitamins

If the vitamins and/or minerals in the product -

  1. are from raw materials that do NOT occur in nature
  2. are from raw materials that are NOT known to be naturally rich in those vitamins / minerals
  3. are from raw materials that may be genetically modified
  4. are synthesized from petroleum by-products or other industrial chemicals and solvents
  5. are in synthetic, isolated, fractionated form
  6. are with or without co-factors; when co-factors are present, they are also in synthetic form

Note: Even if the product contains other ingredients (e.g. herbs, herbal extracts, fruit powders, vegetable powders, enzymes, probiotics, green powders), it must be considered a synthetic multivitamin product for the purposes of labeling and marketing.

Acceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Multivitamin, Multimineral, Co-enzymated, Chelated

Unacceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Natural, Food-based, Food-sourced, Food-created, Food-grown, Whole-food, or any combination thereof. In fact, companies may NOT use any terms that have the potential to imply to the consumer that the vitamins and/or minerals in the product are derived from raw materials that occur in nature or that they are in a form that the body will readily recognize as food.

Cultured Vitamins

If the vitamins and/or minerals in the product -

  1. are from raw materials that do NOT occur in nature
  2. are from raw materials that are NOT known to be naturally rich in those vitamins / minerals
  3. are from raw materials that may be genetically modified
  4. are synthesized from petroleum by-products or other industrial chemicals and solvents
  5. are cultured / grown in yeast and/or probiotic media along with other co-nutrients
  6. may have “co-factors” or “co-nutrients” that are “synthetic” “added” and cultured with the vitamins and minerals; in other words, co-factors are NOT naturally-occurring

Note: Even if the product contains other ingredients (e.g. herbs, herbal extracts, fruit powders, vegetable powders, enzymes, probiotics, green powders), it must be considered a cultured multivitamin product for the purposes of labeling and marketing.

Acceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Multivitamin, Multimineral, Cultured, Co-enzymated (if the appropriate co-factors are present)

Unacceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Natural, Food-based, Food-sourced, Food-created, Food-grown, Whole-food, or any combination thereof. In fact, companies must NOT use any terms that have the potential to imply to the consumer that the vitamins and/or minerals in the product are derived from raw materials that occur in nature or that they are in a form that the body will readily recognize as food.

Food-Sourced Vitamins

If the vitamins and/or minerals in the product -

  1. are from raw materials that DO occur in nature (e.g. algae, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices)
  2. are from raw materials that are known to be naturally rich in those vitamins / minerals
  3. are from raw materials that are NOT genetically modified
  4. are from raw materials that do NOT include petroleum by-products or other industrial chemicals and solvents
  5. are standardized to contain the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in a form that the body recognizes as food
  6. may contain some of the naturally-occurring co-factors

Note: Regardless of whether or not the product contains other ingredients (e.g. herbs, herbal extracts, fruit powders, vegetable powders, enzymes, probiotics, green powders), it must be considered a food-sourced multivitamin product for the purposes of labeling and marketing.

Acceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Multivitamin, Multimineral, Food-sourced, Food-based

Acceptable, but NOT recommended terms to describe the multivitamin product: Natural (because there is currently no universally accepted definition of natural), Food-created / Food-grown (because these are made-up words that have no formal definition)

Whole-Food Vitamins

If the vitamins and/or minerals in the product -

  1. are from raw materials that DO occur in nature (e.g. algae, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices)
  2. are from raw materials that are known to be naturally rich in those vitamins / minerals
  3. are from raw materials that are NOT genetically modified
  4. are from raw materials that do NOT include petroleum by-products or other industrial chemicals and solvents
  5. are full-spectrum concentrated to contain the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals along with co-factors and other bioactive compounds
  6. are in a form that is highly bioavailable and the body recognizes as food

Note: Regardless of whether or not the product contains other ingredients (e.g. herbs, herbal extracts, fruit powders, vegetable powders, enzymes, probiotics, green powders), it must be considered a whole-food multivitamin product for the purposes of labeling and marketing.

Acceptable terms to describe the multivitamin product: Whole-food Multivitamin, Whole-food Multivitamin / Multimineral, Food-sourced, Food-based

Acceptable, but NOT recommended terms to describe the multivitamin product: Natural (because there is currently no universally accepted definition of natural), Food-created / Food-grown (because these are made-up words that have no formal definition)

These are simple guidelines and cannot and should not be used as a substitute for performing due diligence and making sure you have all of the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. “Buyer Beware” is not just a catchphrase when it comes to the natural products industry, it is, for all intents and purposes, your only defense against the increasingly creative marketing practices of companies that focus more on hype and less on substance and spend more money confusing you rather than convincing you.