Review – Choosing the Best Whole Food Vitamins 2019

When I worked in natural foods markets people always wanted to know: What is the difference between a food based vitamin and vitamin isolates, and does it really make that big of a difference? For me, it’s whole food all the way and I’ll explain why in a minute. That said, choosing the best whole food vitamins can be overwhelming, so I’d love to help.

Review-Choosing the Best Whole Food Vitamins

One of the reasons people ask the whole food vs. vitamin isolates question is they are trying to figure out whether the cost of whole food vitamins are really worth it as opposed to many of the cheaper isolates.

With many people on a budget these days, the cost of some food based vitamins can be off-putting, hence the question arises: Why would you spend more money on a food based vitamin when you can buy a cheaper multivitamin at your local drug store?

But there are very valid reasons not to simply purchase the cheapest vitamins you find.

Keeping budgets in mind I have narrowed it down to a handful of top best whole food vitamins and supplement brands that are not only superior quality, but also won’t break the bank.

To keep it simple I am reviewing multivitamins since it’s the basic essential. I do suggest taking women’s and men’s age specific, and kid’s specific multi’s. That way you will get specific nutrients that cater to individual needs such as hormone, prostate, immune health, and the proper nutrient levels for kids and teens.

If you’re looking to maximize your spending and share a vitamin for family members over the age of eighteen then the general multi’s are a great way to accomplish this.

Also keep in mind that these brands carry an array of other helpful food based supplements depending on your specific needs whether it be fish oils, probiotics, greens, etc. But for the sake of this post, the focus is on multivitamins in particular.

Let’s start by breaking down the basic differences between food based and synthetic supplements so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not food based supplements are right for you.

Whole Food Based vs. Synthetic Isolates

Vitamins and Supplements

Whole Food Based Supplements:

Nutrients come from real whole foods. The nutrients are coming from real live foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and superfoods. Leaving them unaltered in their whole food state allows the nutrients to work synergistically within the body as all parts are necessary in order for a particular nutrient to do its job.

The foods are raw and never heated to high temperatures. This low heat method is extremely important to keep the vital nutrients intact so that they do not become destroyed by heat, and are properly assimilated in the body.

They are gentle on the stomach and easy to absorb. So gentle that they can even be taken on an empty stomach without making most people nauseous. Capsules are made from easy to digest plant cellulose without nasty fillers, and tablets are soft enough to crush since there are no unnecessary binders. The body recognizes the real food and it is readily absorbed.

Synthetic Vitamin Isolates:

Isolated nutrients are manufactured synthetically in labs. These nutrients are not natural, nor ever found by themselves in nature, and are not made for human consumption. Since they are isolated they lack the co-factors and transporters necessary to get them where they need to go to perform their job.

Chemicals and solvents are used when creating isolates. A wide range of nasty chemicals and solvents are used in the process of creating vitamin isolates making them a refined product devoid of their accessory nutrients that they naturally come with, and need, to be absorbed.

They can be harsh on the stomach and difficult to absorb. When taken on an empty stomach they tend to make people nauseous. The high potency of these vitamins is harsh on the stomach and acts more like a chemical in the body (studies have shown that the body recognizes isolates as a foreign substance). Capsules are made mostly of gelatin which can be hard to digest, and contain unnecessary fillers. Tablets contain many binders and can be glazed with a coating containing harmful food coloring/dye.

Added Dyes and Colors

The Whole Truth

Isolated nutrients cannot always be utilized by the body, in which case the body will pull from its own stores of the missing nutrients. This can cause an imbalance, with fat soluble vitamin isolates being stored in fatty tissues of the body at toxic levels, and a deficiency of nutrients necessary for optimal body function.

Food based nutrients can be highly utilized by the body, and the body has no need to deplete any of its own nutrient stores in the process.

A greater balance in health can be achieved through providing the body with the proper nutrients necessary for optimal body function, and high quality food based vitamins can help to fill any gaps. 

Everyone agrees that raw, unprocessed honey is better for you than refined white sugar so why should it be any different when it comes to the types of supplements we put into our body? Is it not better to supplement our body with real whole food based vitamins, rather than refined synthetic vitamin isolates?

I’m confident you want to treat your body right, so let’s get to it!

My Favorite Whole Food Based Supplement Brands

MegaFood OneDaily

Review-Choosing the Best Whole Food Vitamins-MegaFood One Daily

MegaFood utilizes a unique Slo-Food Process™ to make their products.

(See how it’s done here)


  • Sourcing and using the best organic foods from sustainable farmers.
  • Stringent testing (the food is tested three times throughout the process for quality assurance)
  • Slo-Food Process™ mills, purees, and optimizes nutrient content, the ingredients are then carefully dehydrated
  • Non-GMO, tested free of pesticides and herbicides including glyphosate
  • Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, certified kosher, dairy and soy free

Mega Food was my first introduction to the world of whole food vitamins. At the time I had been taking generic synthetic multivitamins from the cheapest place I could find them. Of course that was before I understood what I was putting into my body.

And then it dawned on me that the reason I was getting so nauseous even though I was taking my vitamins with food was because they were poor quality, and they certainly weren’t food based.

The first time I tried a Mega Food multi there was no nausea and I felt more energy. I did the empty stomach experiment and still felt great.

To optimize absorption, it’s best to take multivitamins with food so that the nutrients in your meal actually act as a carrier to deliver the nutrients in the vitamin to where they need to be absorbed in the body.

But it’s nice to have the reassurance that if you have to take a whole food vitamin on an empty stomach, it’s gentle enough to not upset it.

Review-Choosing the Best Whole Food Vitamins-Garden of Life MyKind Organics Womens Once Daily
Garden of Life mykind Organics Women’s OR Men’s Once Daily

Garden of Life was founded by Jordan Rubin after discovering the role that raw and fermented foods played in his recovery from Crohn’s disease.

The ingredients in these supplements are uncooked, untreated nutrients from raw living foods, live probiotics, and enzymes.


  • USDA certified organic, non-GMO verified, and GMP registered with NSF
  • Most are vegetarian or vegan, gluten free, and dairy free

GOL Raw Organic Greens and Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic both made the Fab 5 series and the Raw Protein in Chocolate is one of the recommended plant-based proteins in my Wake Up Sunshine! Smoothie.

Whole Earth Sea Multivitamins
Whole Earth & Sea Men’s OR Women’s Pure Food Multivitamin and Mineral

Whole Earth & Sea (made by Natural Factors, a reputable company since the 1950s, whose supplements I’ve had great results with) is a new addition to the list, thanks to a readers inquiry. This is a solid multivitamin, I’m happy to recommend.


  • Ingredients are grown on certified organic farms in BC, Canada from non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds.
  • Raw plants/foods are processed using their proprietary EnviroSimplex method where the temperature always stays below 118° F to protect the potency of fruits, vegetables and herbs, and the entire plant is used
  • Non-GMO, vegetarian and vegan, gluten and dairy free

They have a few gender specific options: Women’s and Women’s 50+ and Men’s and Men’s 50+ formulas, and note that all are 2 tablets per day. There are no kids or teens formulas of this multivitamin.

New Chapter Only One Multivitamin
Review-Choosing the Best Whole Food Vitamins-New Chapter Only One

New Chapter has been in business since 1982. Many of their products are certified organic and most use organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and superfoods cultured in probiotics.

Some of their ingredients are sourced and some are grown on their biodynamic, sustainable farm in Costa Rica.


  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Recycled/recyclable packaging
  • ICS certified organic, vegetarian, gluten free, and non-GMO verified

This is a great quality multi. A couple down side’s are the odd amounts of tablets/capsules, for example 72 instead of an even 60 or 90. You just have to take into account that one bottle will not last you an even month or two months, but more or less depending on how you look at it.

And the fact that they were acquired by Proctor & Gamble in 2012 raised concerns by many in the natural living world about whether or not the brand would maintain the integrity it has been so well known for. They were clear about their mission to continue with the same high quality ingredients and practices after P & G took over. So far it seems to be the case, and they have been able to expand their reach to the masses.

Update: I will be adding another multi to make it five, as this will now be featured in the 5 For You series of reviews and recommendations – coming soon.

Final Thoughts

Filling nutritional gaps with whole food based supplements can be a great addition to your self care routine, especially in the modern world.

I hope this article shows that whole food based supplements can be affordable especially when you realize the benefits are so much greater than cheap synthetic vitamin isolates. Remember they are cheap for a reason, and as with anything you get what you pay for.

I don’t know about you but if there is one thing I’m willing to make an investment in it’s my health. There are certain things I’m not willing to compromise the quality on, particularly when it’s not going to benefit me, and possibly even have adverse long term effects.

Have you ever tried food based supplements or synthetic vitamin isolates, and if so what is/was your experience? Do you have a favorite whole food multivitamin? Love to hear from you in the comments below!


  1. Rico

    Very well-written article and spot on I might add. So many people don’t get this and as such mothers will continue to pump Flinstone vitamins into their kids without a second thought. May your efforts here be fruitful.

    1. Jess

      Thank you Rico. I know, sadly many people don’t realize the impact that the type of vitamin/supplement and the source from which it comes makes a huge difference. For that reason I will continue to spread the love in hopes of helping more and more people see the value in whole food based supplements. Need to get more moms turned on to Garden of Life Vitamin Code Kids Chewables :)

  2. Rochelle

    Wow, I had never actually thought about the differences between the two different vitamins! Eye opening. I’ll be converting to food based supplements, and the ones you’ve recommended are totally affordable. Thanks so much for sharing :)

    1. Jess

      I’m so glad you found this helpful Rochelle! I know, you would think that when a vitamin or supplement states that it is natural you’re good to go. It should be that way but unfortunately we almost have to become our own ingredient detectives to see what is really going into the product, and where it’s being sourced from. It gets easier once you know what to look for and how to avoid being deceived by marketing. If I can help by shedding some light on these topics, my work is done :) I’m so excited for you to experience the difference of food based vitamins, please don’t hesitate to let me know of I can help you out or answer any questions :)

    1. Jess

      Sounds great Ana! Yeah, it definitely can make a huge difference which types of vitamins we put into our body. Feel free to revisit anytime and definitely let me know if you have any questions, or I can help in any way :)

  3. Tavis

    Hey Jess, I really like your site and the information you are sharing is awesome. It really caught my interest reading your posts some very helpful things that you are sharing that I didn’t know. Keep up the good work and I’ll be checking back in on your site.

  4. Marie

    I’ve always been insecure about vitamines. What can I eat? What would be good for my son? So glad I found this article and could learn more about it. Thanks! Marie

    1. Jess

      My pleasure Marie! It’s understandable that you would have hesitations about vitamins, with so many to choose from it can be really overwhelming. I hope that I was able to help narrow it down a bit for you.

      As I mentioned in my post, all three of these brands have great multivitamins for both adults and kids. Depending on your son’s age, if he is young enough for a chewable Garden of Life makes a great kids chewable. If he is old enough to swallow tablets I would personally opt for Mega Foods or New Chapter for kids. Please let me know how you like them or if I can be of any further help :)

  5. Aleksandra

    Hi I wanted to know if you’ve ever heard of Whole Earth & Sea multivitamins and you’re review on that. Im new to multivitamins and want to find a good one, as I am vegetarian. Thank you :)

    1. Hi Aleksandra! I haven’t tried this multivitamin but I’m very familiar with the company Natural Factors who makes it. I’ve used several of their products over the years and highly recommend them. After looking over this multivitamin, I am giving it a thumbs up. This is definitely very similar to the ones I recommend in this post, with ingredients extracted through a whole food process using low temperatures, and suitable for vegans, so being vegetarian, you’re covered there. The one thing I did notice is you have to take 2 instead of 1, but if you’re okay with that this is definitely one I would try myself. I hope this helps!

      If you do try it, I would love to hear what you think! Take care :)

    1. My pleasure. I am familiar with this company and while they offer a line of quality supplements, the fact that the women’s multi contains St. John’s Wort is a deterrent for me. Although there is evidence that this herb can be helpful for depression, it also interferes with the efficacy of certain medications and has quite a few potential side effects as mentioned in this article found on Also, the Wild Yam Root could be a plus if one knows their levels of this hormone are low, otherwise I personally wouldn’t mess with progesterone levels already in normal range. I do see the same issue with the Tribulus in the men as it works on testosterone. Also, the women’s formulas in my review have a bit of bone support minerals in them, which I don’t see in these formulas. Hope this helps :)

  6. Kayla

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I have been looking for vitamins recently and been having a hard time. Im allergic to cranberries to most vitamins I have been seeing has them in it. Do you know of any whole food multivitamin without cranberries?

    1. My pleasure, Kayla! Cranberry is on the MegaFood ingredient list, however, you’re in luck, it is not on the ingredient list of either New Chapter Only One, New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily, or Garden of Life mykind Organics Women’s Once Daily.
      Just to be on the safe side I would recommend contacting New Chapter here or calling (800-543-7279) to verify with a product specialist. You can contact Garden of Life here or call (866-465-0051). Hope this helps and you find what you’re looking for! :-)

  7. Maysen

    Hey Jess, great review. Thanks for the wonderful work keep it up. I wanna
    ask you about this brand, NATURELO Whole Food Multivitamin, are you familiar with it? What do you think?

    1. Hi Maysen! Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed the review. In my opinion, Naturelo is a good sturdy brand, if you’re particularly looking for men, women, and children specific formulas. They don’t offer a general multi that can be used by both men and women together.

      There are many pros such as some organic whole food ingredients, GMO-free, gluten-free, no binders or fillers, and suitable for vegetarians/vegans. They’ve done a good job leaving out the iron in the men’s formula, and it’s good that they offer an iron free formula for women also, since most women over 50 no longer need iron, unless anemic. But I would like to see them add some more men/women specific blends to target things such as men’s prostate health and women’s hormones, for instance.

      Overall, I would say this is a pretty good brand of multivitamin. Hope this helps!

      1. Maysen

        Jess, thank you a bunch for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it.
        One more thing, see I used to love the Megafood Multivitamin until I stumbled upon their B-complex formula and noticed that they used Cyanocobalamin for the B12 instead of the natural form or methylcobalamin. So then I changed my mind about their products. I’d love to read your take on this!

        Thanks again.

      2. For sure =) Good eye…in the B complex, Megafood currently lists the source of B12 as cyanocobalamin. You are probably already savvy to the fact that B12 is found primarily in meat, fish and dairy which poses a bit of a problem since Megafood is certified vegan. Nutritional yeast, from fungi like mushrooms and cordyceps is a great source of plant based B vitamins but even it does not naturally produce B12, so it must be fortified with it. Nutritional yeast is also known as saccharomyces cerevisia, a form of yeast that Megafood uses as a growth medium for vitamins. In essence, the yeast feeds on the vitamins and converts them into a food state that the body can then easily absorb.

        That said, Garden of Life and Naturelo list their B12 as methylcobalamin, so they may be better suited for your needs. Hope this helps! Also here is some great reading material regarding B vitamins, you may find useful. Take care =)

  8. Sharon

    Very good article, Jess. I’m shopping for a new multi vitamin and have been trying to decide between GOF and Megafood. I used to take New Chapter Perfect Energy, but I just learned it contains soy, something I try to avoid.
    Since I’m over 55, I’ve been looking at the “over 40” choices. GOL’s Vitamin Code 50 and Wiser looks good, but it’s 4 tablets/day.
    Then there’s GOL My Kind 40+ and, lastly, Mega Food’s For Women 55+.
    Do you have any recommendations regarding these? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Sharon, glad you liked it! Honestly, both of the last two are great choices, both are 60 tablets and serving size is 2 a day. The fact that GOL MyKind is organic and contains an additional hormone/breast support blend are two bonuses that swerve me in that direction. Hope this helps and I hope I was able to get to you in time :) It’s never a bad thing to try one and then the other and see if you notice any difference in the way you feel anyhow. I’d love to hear what you decided and your experience. Take care and be well :)

    2. Linda

      I am soooo glad I stumbled across your site. I deeply appreciate your input on vitamins. Recently hv also checked out ur site on essential oils that hv bn very helpful.
      My husband and I are looking for the best whole food supplement hopefully one a day Both of us hv very low energy His eating habit is better than mine.
      I feel like I also need Vit D3 & don’t get enough calcium in my diet.
      Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

      1. So glad I could help. Each of the multi’s listed here except for the Whole Earth & Sea are once daily. You can find my vitamin D recommendations in the following post You might also find this section helpful for future reference As far as the calcium, Garden of Life Raw Calcium is my personal choice. You may find the amount of vitamin D in it suits you fine, otherwise you can adjust the amount accordingly if you choose to supplement with an individual vitamin D in addition to the calcium. Hope this helps!

  9. Tabby

    I loved reading this. I was diagnosed with Sjogrens a few years ago and also developed serious asthma. I am on and off prednisone and have decided I should probably take a good multivitamin. Also a good calcium and magnesium supplement but it’s all too much information! I’m currently taking Real Food Organics Women’s Daily Nutrition by Country Life and Bluebonnet Calcium, magnesium, and d3 in liquid form. I’m worried about the d3 in it. I need the best I can get. Most easily absorbed. By The way I’m only 35 but I know what havoc steroids have on our systems. Any suggestions would be much appreciated even if you just point me to another site. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for reading Tabby, and so happy you enjoyed! CL Real Food is a solid multi and sounds like it’s working well for you. Garden of Life makes a superior raw calcium from algae you can check out here. Many of my clients calcium and vitamin D levels test great after adding this supplement. It’s a reliable way to get absorbable plant based calcium, magnesium, D, and K all in one formula.

      You can also check out what I recommend for high quality vitamin D in this review, if you want it by itself. Also, just a suggestion, but something that could really benefit you is essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 from fish oil and GLA from borage oil, if you’re not getting enough in your diet or are not already supplementing with them. I will have more posts about EFAs and recommendations on my favorites soon, so stay tuned! Hope this helps =) All the best!

  10. Sebastian

    It seems that the Vitamines in Megafood are mostly extracted from s.cervisiae, whereas the vitamins in mykind organics are extracted form a broader food blend. That is a major difference, but I don’t know how it matters. What do you think? It might be cheaper to extract everything from a fungus.

    1. Thanks for reading, Sebastian. It could be the case, but honestly I have always been very happy with the high-quality of both these brands, it’s really just depends on which you prefer. You can always alternate and see if you notice a difference between the two =)

  11. Ant

    Thanks for the great article.
    I’ve been reading into this for a while now and have heard a lot online about Naturelo wholefood vitamins for men. There is a lot of talk about these being the number one rank etc.
    Is this true, although very pricey, are these the best ones to go for? If not which would you say are better for men?

    1. Max, I have tried other products from them and think they are a great company. I love that they are certified organic and free of gluten, dairy, additives, and GMOs. The whole food based general multi looks nice and basic, is only 2 a day, and doesn’t contain iron which I like since it works well for men and women unless low on iron or anemic, of course.

      The men’s and women’s formulas include some really nice herbal blends on top of the basic multi, including Ayurvedic herbs which I’m a huge fan of. You have to be willing to take 4 tablets a day on these formulas and the women’s does contain St. John’s Wort and while it offers many benefits, most studies have shown it to be safe for shorter term usage rather than long term. For more information see here. Just some things to consider but overall I really like these formulas.

      Thanks for inquiring and inspiring me to look deeper into this brand…I think I may have to add them to the list. Take care!

  12. Ellen

    Honestly, I had no idea! I had a funny talc taste in my mouth this morning, after taking a new papaya enzyme, and found talc as a filler. (It also happened when a doctor put me on a prescription.) I went to work & told my co-worker, so we looked it up. Unbelievable! I had no idea. Love your article! Found whole food supplements, but didn’t know who to trust. Going shopping tomorrow!

    1. Thanks for sharing that Ellen…my goodness…not exactly what you want to find in your supplement! Thanks for reading and can’t wait for you to reap the benefits of whole food supplements =)

  13. jenn

    Hello, just came across this blog while I was searching for a whole food multivitamin. I’m a 35 year old female. what could you suggest for me? In all of my searches Naturelo keeps coming up. What is your opinion on it? I see it does not have a lot of calcium something I believe at my age I really need. It also is a 4 a day so I was hoping not to add another pill to the mix if I had to take a separate pill for calcium. I also emailed them to ask about their vitamins and they did get back to me right away but the “customer service” person who wrote back had a lot of things misspelled and it turned me off and I started thinking it was a scam.

    1. Hi Jenn, others have asked about Naturelo too and from what I can tell it looks like a sturdy multi. All the brands in this review are high-quality. Hope you find something you’re happy with :)

  14. Steve Daniels

    Please comment on Standard Process Laboratories food-based supplements. They have a great reputation, but I am unable to compare them to these on your review. Thanks!

    1. Cultured in a fermented food matrix gets a thumbs up from me! The fact that it’s made with organic ingredients, is non-gmo, vegetarian, gluten and dairy-free, is also a huge plus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *