I am frequently asked, “What is the best vitamin to buy?” This is a vast subject, and not easily answered. However, the best vitamins are found in food. So, the best vitamins would be derived from a natural, whole, organic food source as opposed to being man-made or synthetic. Vitamins are cofactors that are needed to drive chemical reactions forward in the body. There are many reasons why we need vitamins to avoid a deficiency state. Research shows that about 75% of the American population may in fact be vitamin deficient of one or more vitamins. When food is manufactured, vitamins are stripped out in the process. Another reason is that with the current trend toward larger the portion sizes, more vitamins are required for the body to metabolize and process food as energy. Commercial farming practices, which leach the soil of minerals, result in fruits and vegetables that may be relatively deficient in vitamins, as opposed to those which are produced organically, with sustainable methods. The presence of pesticides can alter the phenotype of some vegetables, therefore they may provide less antioxidants as well.
So a good vitamin is derived from food. When the molecules in a vitamin are linked to others, that is chelated, it becomes biologically recognized as food. That makes it more easily absorbed. A good vitamin dissolves easily, is digested and recognized as food, so that it may be absorbed and used, rather than passing on unchanged through the GI tract (stomach and intestines). This is called bioavailability.
Also, a good vitamin would be produced with good manufacturing practices that do not introduce toxins through the manufacturing process, like artificial colors, flavorings, coatings, shellac, plastics, or impurities which are regarded as toxins.
When buying vitamins, there are a wide variety of quality in the products on the market that are available. Therefore, we rely on selected manufacturers whose mission it is to produce vitamins of reliable quality. It is true to some extent that you get what you pay for. This is one of the reasons why some people just abandon taking synthetic vitamins, because they may cause stomach upset, or after taking them, they just don’t seem to make you feel any better, and so they are just abandoned as worthless.