Supplementation is nothing new in the health and fitness sphere. Most athletes do it, whether they use protein powder, creatine, BCAAs, electrolytes, omega 3… the list really does go on for a long, long way.
But what about the basics? What about the stuff that comes before, during and after supplements for improving performance and recovery?
Vitamin and mineral supplementation looks after basic health. It gives the body the foundational micronutrients it needs to be able to optimally complete its basic functions. From here, health and wellbeing will improve. Energy levels, focus and concentration will improve. Our ability to heal and stay resilient will improve. And, ultimately, our athletic performance will improve.
It all goes hand in hand, and it all comes from getting the basics right. That’s why today I want to take a look at the best multivitamins you can buy in the UK – and give you the run down on what exactly to look for.
What Are Vitamins And Minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients. They support essential functions within the human body. From growth and repair to proper blood flow, to adequate cognitive function, to development and energy creation, and hundreds more, there are few things the body does during which it doesn’t rely on them.
If you don’t get an adequate amount of them – of all of them – then your body will be functioning below par, sub-optimally. The symptoms can run from the negligible to the dangerous, from a loss of peak performance to lasting long term damage.
Vitamins are chemical compounds. They provide essential nutrition for our bodies and are often intimately and profoundly involved in some of our bodies’ most basic functionality and mechanisms.
Some vitamins are fat soluble, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some are water soluble, like Vitamins B and C. They are umbrella terms for larger forms of their basic makeups, and all have their own unique tasks and contributions to our wellness.
For example, Vitamin B is known as a complex vitamin. It can be sub-divided into eight distinct groups: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate. Each has their own role in promoting healthy bodily functioning and development.
Minerals are inorganic solids. These can be base elements or compounds and are all needed in micro-doses to promote health and support healthy regular functionality and development through the whole body.
From a health and fitness point of view, the minerals we are really concerned with are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium, many of which we will go into below. These can be found in an array of different foods, but are most easily absorbed in adequate, global doses via supplementation.
Our Top Picks
The following are all fantastic, trusted, good quality sources of vitamins and minerals. Each has something unique to bring to any budding athlete, whilst all simultaneously do what any multivitamin should do – giving you a good hit of pretty much every micronutrient you need for long term health and wellbeing.
FoodSpring Daily Vitamins
A lot of vitamin supplements rely on synthetically produced vitamins, grown in labs to imitate natural compounds. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this – it yields great, low-cost results.
However, there is always something missing. The quality and dosage are both much lower in lab products than can be found in their natural counterparts.
Their capsule shells are also something of a treat. They are made from 100% natural, renewable cellulose, as opposed to many products whose manufacturers rely on cheap, low quality gelatine (also making Daily Vitamins completely vegan into the bargain!).
It is these production methods and manufacturing ethics that set Daily Vitamins apart. The inclusion of real fruit and vegetables is a big deal. They combine oranges, apples, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and other fruits and vegetables to ensure that their consumers receive a wide range of nutrients.
Everything comes from European farms, subject to strict EU laws, with no pesticides or chemical fertilizers used at any point. FoodSpring also guarantee sustainable farming practices, careful cleaning and gentle processing (thus not removing much of the good stuff).
They really are a company after my own heart.
Centrum are one of the largest suppliers of supplements going. Their Centrum formula is their trademark multivitamin, and the Advance is something of a souped up version of it.
It is a complete daily multivitamin, designed for those on the go for whom eating is necessarily perfunctory and a balanced diet not a priority. Centrum Advance delivers 24 key vitamins and minerals, including all 12 essential vitamins (those that the body cannot synthesis, so must take in from exogenous sources).
These include Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, iron, Iodine, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Selenium, and Zinc. Everything has been carefully measured and combined for optimal performance and delivery.
You get a 100 day full supply with each purchase, making it great value for money.
There isn’t too much more to say than this. Centrum’s Advance is a decent, well-rounded multivitamin that gives you everything you need in one go, without costing you the earth. It very definitely deserves its place in this list.
Nutravita Multivitamins & Minerals
Nutravita are another giant of the supplement scene. Although they have only been going for six years, they have made it big, quickly. They serve customers across the world and have made thousands happier and healthier with their products.
Their products are remarkably high standard, all rigorously tested and certified in the UK (more on this below), and overseen by an expert team of pharmacologists, chemists and research scientists working to source the finest and most beneficial ingredients they can.
Their multivitamins come with 26 active vitamins and minerals, all of which have been carefully selected to support their customers to optimum health, daily. You get a full supply of 365 tablets with each order so, although it’s a lot up front, you really get your money’s worth.
Each serving gives a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Chromium, Molybdenum, and Iodine.
Everything is sourced from the US or within the EU (France and Germany, for the most), so that the highest standards have been maintained throughout.
In fact, Nutravita make a big deal about the quality of their ingredients and their formula, and rightly so. Unlike many manufacturers, they invest heavily in maintaining and proving the quality of their stuff – everything is 3rd part lab tested before the manufacturing process begins, and then every batch that comes out undergoes further rigorous quality testing.
This is all performed and analysed across multiple labs, ensuring little to no bias throughout.
When they boast about the quality of their product, they can back it up with a good deal of scientific evidence. Hats off to Nutrivita for it.
Centrum Men Multivatimins
Centrum were never only going to get one slot on this list – their catalogue is long and stellar. Their Centrum Men formula is one of the best going.
It is another complete daily multivitamin. Centrum Men has 24 key nutrients, both vitamins and minerals, including all 13 essential vitamins and a very high dosage of Vitamin D.
Included are Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Biotin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Iodine, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Selenium, and Zinc.
It contains nutrients that support the release of energy from food, including vitamin B12, B6 and Iron, Vitamin C to support the normal function of the immune system, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D contribute to muscle function. I really do like these for anyone living an active lifestyle.
This gives you a broad spectrum of basically everything you need to live a healthy life!
But why are they for men? What’s so unique about them?
Well, the short answer is nothing much. Women and children can take them, and they will work perfectly fine. However, men have higher requirements for some nutrients compared to women. Centrum Men has had some doses changed around to reflect this.
You get 60 days’ worth of tablets in each pack, seeing you right for a full two-month period.
Centrum Men is sugar, gluten and lactose-free.
WeightWorld Multivitamin Gummies
I have a kneejerk reaction against gummies and their ilk. Unless you’re a child (in which case there is a plethora of multivitamins dedicated to you and your development), I dislike the idea of turning something healthy into a sweet just to pander to your tastes.
This is a prejudice and it’s arguably foolish. Realistically, many people have problems swallowing tablets, or so I’m told.
Because of this, we have gummies. Think of jelly babies that your personal trainer tells you to eat.
My prejudices aside, WeightWorld have made a very good product, here. Their gummies contain Vitamins A, B, C, D & E along with Biotin, Folic acid, Zinc, Iodine, Choline and Inositol, which will give you a good blanket dose of everything you need – as a good multivitamin should do.
They’re tasty, too. If you have a sweet tooth, you may find yourself wanting to take in several thousand percent of your RDI of each vitamin included in their profile!
They are also good for people on the go, who, for whatever reason, can’t find a glass of water. I can’t really imagine this being a make or break scenario, but the fact that you can simply chew two of these little sweeties instead of throwing a tablet or two back with water is pretty handy.
They are gluten free and completely vegetarian (which is a nice surprise in anything resembling jelly, where beef gelatine is still all-too-common).
If you ignore naysayers like me and decide, legitimately, that you want a couple of healthy sweets every day, this is one for you. I enjoyed them despite myself!
Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Plus
Seven Seas are another supplement company household name, and once again, there is good reason for this. Their products are unfailingly good. And just as we have a good offering for men up above, so do we have a good offering for women, here.
Seven Seas’ Perfect7 Woman Plus is a blend of natural source omega 3, plus the essential vitamins and minerals one would expect of this kind of product. The formula itself is specially blended to optimise absorption of nutrients into the body’s cells, giving maximum health and protection.
As far as insurance policies go – which, let’s be honest, multivitamins kind of are – Perfect7 Woman Plus is kind of ideal in this regard.
It is, of course, no surprise to see omega 3 being used so well in a Seven Seas product. They have been researching the beneficial impact of marine oils for more than 70 years. They have been sourcing high quality omega 3 from cod liver for a long, long time.
But why is Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Plus specifically for women?
A few reasons.
Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Plus has been scientifically designed to support optimal female hormonal activity, among other things. Vitamin B6 helps to regulate hormonal activity, making Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Plus ideal for those going through the menopause.
It is also good for cognition, energy, and heart health. Magnesium contributes good metabolic health whilst DHA contributes to normal brain function. Vitamin B2 contributes to maintenance of normal vision, whilst EPA & DHA keep the heart fit and healthy.
It is also good for skin, nails and hair, with Zinc contributing to the maintenance of normal skin and nails, and Biotin contributing to the maintenance of normal, healthy hair.
Men can absolutely benefit from taking it, but as above, the emphasis gives Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Plus a slightly gendered take on life. They will be far more beneficial when used by women.
So that rounds up our favourite UK multivitamins. If you are still unsure what to look for then be sure to read on for more information on how to choose the best multivitamins for you.
Key Vitamins And Minerals To Include In Your Multivitamins
There are a few key vitamins and minerals that we are looking for in any multivitamin, especially one aimed at optimising athletic performance and recovery.
The first of these is Vitamin D, which plays a key role in managing many of the body’s most basic functions. It is something of a messenger, activating genes (which are actually messengers) or shutting them down as needed. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can include muscular weakness and bone loss, though they will build up very slowly over a period of years.
Vitamin A is most profoundly felt in its role in maintaining eye health. Poor vision can often be a sign of Vitamin A deficiency. This particular deficiency can also cause low immunity, which is arguably more important, particularly in a fitness setting. Our immune systems work hard as we train and recover, so we cannot afford to have them working at anything less than optimum.
Next up we have Vitamin B12. This is essential for blood formation, and brain and nerve function. B12 deficiency can often be mistaken for the symptoms of iron deficiency – both include megaloblastic anaemia, in which your red blood cells are enlarged.
Iron is also a very important inclusion on this list. As with B12, it is central to the formation of healthy red blood cells. These transport oxygen and other nutrients around the body. A lack of iron will often present as tiredness, sickness, weakness, and dizziness. In severe cases, it can cause anaemia.
Iodine is fundamental to healthy recovery, body composition, and energy regulation. This is because it is essential to thyroid health. Iodine deficiency can lead to a goitre (an enlarged thyroid), which will cause you to put on weight easily, find yourself regularly short of breath, and find that your heart beats more quickly than it should. It can cause severe health and developmental issues and can ruin any chances of success in any athletic setting.
Finally, we have Calcium and Magnesium, both of which are vital to the creation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Both are often associated with brittle, easily broken bones and dental problems. Magnesium is also vital in enzyme reactions. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
Vitamins In Your Diet
We should all be able to get the majority of our vitamin and mineral requirements from our diets. Any mixed, healthy diet should do a good job of covering all bases. In fact, there is some research to suggest that multivitamins are a long way shy of being as efficient at maintaining health as a diet naturally rich in them.
However, this is rarely the case; few of us can manage a perfect, varied diet, all of the time. It’s rarely possible, let alone being practical.
Different foods are available to different people, with different needs, beliefs, and circumstances. It is therefore impractical to suppose that everybody – or even some people – can maintain the perfect micro-nutritional balancing act with their diets.
Why Choose Multivitamins?
This is where multivitamins come into their own – they help us to cover our bases. Always aim to get as many of your micronutrients as is humanly possible from your diet. Then take multivitamins to pave over and fill in any of the cracks.
For instance, I follow a vegetarian diet. There is iron found in plant-based food. However, it is far less plentiful and easily absorbed than that found in animal-based foods. It would be impractical for me to try to get all of my iron from my diet. Likewise, Vitamin B12 is only really found in meaningful quantities in animal-based food. Though I can, and do, get some from dairy and eggs, it makes sense for me to supplement it.
Were I to take my diet a step further and go fully vegan, like Novak Djokovic or Patrick Baboumian, I would definitely need to take iron and B12 supplements.
A lot of commercially processed food focusses more on flavour and mass than nutritional value. If you’re in the habit of eating processed food, no matter how varied or healthy it looks, you will likely be getting far less nutritional value from it than you might expect.
Again, supplementation is a good way around this, covering your bases.
If you feel like you’re experiencing any symptoms of nutritional deficiencies, consult your doctor. Then buy yourself a good pack of multivitamins. You will be able to fill in the gaps that time, money and practicalities forbid our main diets from keeping closed.