I’ve had Nootropics Expert readers asking me what my preferred multivitamin/mineral supplement is. And what I use every day. This post is a detailed response to that question.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi is by far the best multivitamin/mineral supplement I’ve used. And I’ve tried several different brands of multivitamins over the last 10 years.
Including a couple of the well-known raw- and whole-food multivitamins available at the local vitamin shop, Whole Foods and online.
But the question I often see goes something like, “is a multivitamin necessary”?
Even if you are living a much healthier lifestyle like I have since being diagnosed Adult ADD 10 years ago. And even more so since turning hypothyroid 5 years later.
You may even be able to identify with this:
✔ You eat your vegetables
✔ You don’t smoke
✔ You drink very little
✔ You avoid junk food
✔ You exercise every day
Does this picture of health really need to take vitamins?
And here’s why …
A recent study published by the Mayo Clinic showed that less than 3% of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a healthy lifestyle.[i]
Now assuming you are one of those 3% …
Another study shows only 33% of adults eat enough fruit. And only 27% get the recommended servings of vegetables.[ii]
Are you with me so far?
Our fruit, vegetable and meat products simply do not have enough vitamins and minerals to naturally support a healthy body.
Grown on nutrient-depleted soil. And most have been genetically modified to grow faster. GMO produce grows so fast it hasn’t time to draw in enough nutrients from the nutrient-starved soil it’s grown on.
Then the nutrients that do make it into our food are lost during transport, storage, processing, and cooking.
Even young people, with a higher metabolism and a higher food consumption than the average 50 – 70-year-old, only 1% are getting the nutrients they need.[iii]
And did you know you would need to eat 26 of today’s apples to get the nutrition you’d get from one apple grown in 1914?[iv]
So what to do?
The obvious, simple answer is give your body what it’s been deprived of by using a multivitamin/mineral supplement.
But not all multivitamin supplements are created equal.
In fact, most of what you’ll find on supermarket, drugstore, and even vitamin shop shelves are useless. Some are actually toxic and dangerous to use.
In this post I’ll share the criteria I use to select a multivitamin, the supplement I prefer and use every day, ingredients needed for optimal health, how they work together, cost, and where to get it.
Table of Contents
My Multivitamin Selection Criteria
One of the things people do when first becoming health-conscious is to start using a daily multivitamin.
And if you are anything like I was when first getting started, you look on in confusion at shelf after shelf with hundreds of multivitamin supplements to choose from.
Instinct is to grab the first multivitamin you recognize from the slick commercials on TV.
You take the multi for a month and don’t feel anything. No better than you did before. What’s going on?
First, we need to take a close look at the label. A multivitamin bottle label will tell us all we need to know. If you know how to read it. And understand what’s in the bottle.
What I’ve learned since my first multivitamin purchase is most of them should have a “Black Box” warning label. The kind the FDA mandates pharmaceuticals put on some of their drugs.
Here’s a quick summary of what I look for, and what to avoid.
Toxic Vitamins: Biohacker Beware
Near the bottom of the ingredients label, if you see FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40, or any of their variants, put the bottle back on the shelf.
Recent studies link food coloring to hyperactivity in kids.[v] And European lawmakers now require a warning label on foods that contain artificial dyes.
Another one you’ll see is hydrogenated fats like ‘soybean oil’. Used as a filler to bulk up the tablet or capsule.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states, “Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats”.[vi]
Yum. Exactly what you don’t want in your multivitamin.
Next, look for talc, or magnesium silicate. Talc is a mineral composed of magnesium silicate, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen. And used as an anti-caking agent and cheap filler in multivitamins.
Talc has been linked to ovarian cancer in women.[vii]
If you want to learn more about what to avoid and what to look for, please see my post, “How to Select the Best Multivitamin for Brain Function”.
Whole-Food vs. Non-Food Vitamins and Minerals
This category covers a whole host of problems with most multivitamin supplements.
But most multivitamin supplements on the market today are synthetic. Vitamins created using coal tar derivatives. And minerals using ground up rock.
I’ve found one of the quickest and simplest ways to assess a multivitamin for quality and “food-based” is to look for Vitamin B9 (folic acid) or Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin); neither of which is food-based.
If either one is on the label then the entire bottle must be avoided because the rest of the bottle is unlikely to be a quality, food-based vitamin complex.
For more on avoiding “USP Vitamins, Pharmaceutical Grade and Natural” in your multivitamin, see my post here.
Added Ingredients and “Fairy Dusting”
One of the things that really irks me is manufacturers who use a “Proprietary Formula” in their supplement.
Proprietary formulas hide how much of an ingredient is in the bottle. Which is a problem because I want to know exactly how much of each ingredient I’m getting in a tablet or capsule.
I need to know if I must add extra of one vitamin or mineral based on my unique body chemistry and health issues.
And proprietary formulas are also a sneaky way of including what I call a “fairy dusting” of an ingredient. An amount so small it only looks good on the label. And does nothing for optimizing your health.
Discovering Performance Lab
Now that we’ve established what we want to avoid in a multivitamin supplement – what’s left?
I’ve tried some of them, and they are good. These whole-food multivitamins contain the right form and dose of each vitamin and mineral.
But all of them add unnecessary ingredients. A blend of organic food powders to make it look more like a “whole-food” multi.
Or a little CoQ10 in a form which my body cannot use. Or a proteolytic blend of enzymes that is supposed to help clear fibrin. But instead digests my food if I take it with a meal.
All I want is a simple, pure, whole-food multivitamin that supplies only the vitamins and minerals my body and brain need every day.
Only one company on the entire planet produces a simple, pure multivitamin.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multivitamin is the foundation of their new supplement line.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi Ingredients
Performance Lab uses ‘nature-identical’ vitamins and minerals which include their natural cofactors to ensure their bioavailability. And your body can use them.
The company uses their own proprietary BioGenesis™ method to grow whole-food based nutrients. Avoiding genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins.
The only ingredients in this Performance Lab Multivitamin are the vitamins and minerals listed on the label in their purest, bio-identical form. In dosages designed to support and enhance a healthy body and brain.
The company uses Plantcaps® vegan capsules made from tapioca instead of the semi-synthetic polymer found in other vegetarian capsules. And infuse the capsules with a prebiotic for better digestion and boost the bioavailability of the nutrients in this Multi.
The Performance Lab Multi is available for men and women with only slight differences in their formulas.
Here’s a full list of the vitamins and minerals in Performance Lab’s Multi with a summary of what each does in your body and brain.
Every vitamin and mineral in this multivitamin is as important for your brain as the rest of your body. So the emphasis in descriptions are for brain health and optimization since that is our focus here at Nootropics Expert.
Performance Lab’s BioGenesis Nutrients
Benefits and Areas of Support in Your Body and Brain
Antioxidant, cardiovascular, hair, skin, nails, tissue repair
Neurotransmitters, red blood cell formation, cell growth, energy metabolism, antioxidant
Neurotransmitters, BDNF, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), circulation, protein and fat metabolism, skin
Neurotransmitters, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), hormone production, cardiovascular
Neurotransmitters, immune system, blood cell formation, oxygen transport, blood sugar, cognitive function
Neurotransmitters, myelin, white blood cell development, DNA, hair, skin, nails, blood sugar, energy
DNA, RNA, gene expression, amino acid synthesis, neurotransmitters, new cell formation
DNA, RNA, neurotransmitters, myelin, red blood cell formation, energy metabolism, heart health, cognitive function
Bones, joints, cardiovascular, muscles, hormones, brain cell signaling
Blood cell formation, DNA, oxygen transport, neurotransmitters, myelin
Thyroid hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolism
Protein synthesis, cell signaling, gene transcription, neurotransmitter transport, DNA, methylation, immune system, vision, testosterone, neurons, cell growth
Neurotransmitters, thyroid, immune system, antioxidant
Red blood cell formation, neurotransmitters, myelin, blood vessel formation, neuron and glial cell respiration, antioxidants, energy, connective tissue, cardiovascular, vision, immune system
Bones, metabolism, blood sugar, calcium absorption, neurons, glial cells, enzyme cofactor, weight management
Neurotransmitters, metabolism, energy, weight management, blood sugar
Enzyme cofactor, metabolism
Neurotransmitters, brain cell signaling, skin
Blood sugar, cardiovascular, bones, muscles, enzymes, growth factor
Bones, hormones, antioxidant, neurotransmitters, joints, connective tissue
For more detail on how each vitamin is critical for brain health, see “13 Vitamins Essential for the Optimized Brain”.
For more detail on how each mineral is critical for brain health, see “13 Minerals Essential for the Optimized Brain”.
BioGenesis™ vs Isolated Vitamins & Minerals
In a perfect world you get all the nutrients your body and brain need from the food you eat every day. But we don’t and for reasons covered earlier in this post. So we try to make up for this deficiency with a multivitamin supplement.
The problem is most minerals and vitamins used in multivitamin supplement formulas do not contain protein chaperones or other cofactors needed for absorption into your cells. The form of vitamins and minerals you get from real food.
Most other supplement companies, with very few exceptions, use “isolated” minerals and vitamins made from petroleum derivatives. Forms of nutrients your body does not recognize as nutrients.
Your body either expels them as unwanted toxins, or these impostors attach to receptors required by genuine vitamins and minerals for various actions in your body.
The result is expensive urine sending these aliens down the drain. And some even cause real damage and long-term health issues.[ix]
Using BioGenesis to produce vitamins and minerals avoids this toxicity. And provides nutrients in the same form you would normally get from food.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi Dosage
The amount of each ingredient listed on the label is for Performance Lab’s recommended 4-capsules per day.
I recommended using 2-capsules in the morning and the other 2-capsules mid-day.
It is safe to dose up to but no more than 6-capsules per day.
While BioGenesis nutrients are highly bioavailable and non-toxic, some nutrients like Vitamin A and Vitamin E are stored in fat in your body. And not expelled in urine like water-soluble nutrients.
Dosing more than your body can use daily may cause an unnatural buildup of some vitamins and minerals. Eventually leading to possible toxic overload and health problems.
Synergy of Vitamins and Minerals is Key
Check the label of Performance Lab’s Multi and you may notice some nutrients dosed lower than some other brand of multivitamins.
Opti Nutra calculated these dosages based on synergy and how each nutrient supports and work with others in this formula.
Performance Lab ingredients work in harmony with each other. And with your body’s ability to naturally produce certain proteins, enzymes, amino acids, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
The intent is not to upset the balance and artificially boost specific areas of your body with this multivitamin.
Rather the intent is to ensure your body and brain get optimal amounts of each vitamin and mineral it requires to thrive every day.
How Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi Works in Real Life
I love this multivitamin. Two capsules in the morning with a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil along with the rest of my nootropic stack. And it launches my day.
I’ve noticed a difference since I replaced my previous multivitamin with the Performance Lab Multi for Men. It feels cleaner, productivity has increased a little more, mood is slightly better, and I sleep better.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi is Good Value
One of the things I’ve learned over the years of working with nootropics is it’s not cheap. In fact, taking each nootropic, vitamin, and mineral on its own in my case can add up to hundreds of dollars per month.
In this case, I know my body and brain demand a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily. I’ve searched long and hard for the best multivitamin I could find based on what I’ve learned over the last few years.
Now it’s no surprise that the highest quality supplements are often more expensive. But I’ve also found that when compared to buying many of these ingredients as separate supplements, it turns out to be a whole lot less.
This Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi for Men is a little more than my previous whole-food multivitamin supplement. But I’ve cut down on 3 other separate supplements in my stack, so it comes out to about the same investment in my health.
Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi for men or women is only $40.00 for a 1-month supply (120 capsules) (+ shipping & handling).
And when you get 2 boxes of this Multi you earn a 5% discount. Or a 10% discount when you get 3 boxes.
Pro & Cons of Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi
Opti Nutra has taken an extra step to include Plantcaps® instead of regular vegetarian capsules in their stack. These vegan caps are made from tapioca. And each capsule is infused with a Prebiotic for better digestion and bioavailability of the whole multivitamin/mineral complex.
All of the other competitors with a high-quality multivitamin use HPMC vegetarian capsules which are a semi-synthetic polymer made from wood pulp.
Now, let’s look at what I think are the pros and cons of this premium multivitamin.
- Full disclosure on the amount of each ingredient
- Highest quality, nature-identical, eco-friendly BioGenesis™ ingredients
- Highly bioavailable B-Vitamins (equivalent to folate, P-5-P and methylcobalamin)
- No added ingredients
- No World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned substances
- Vegan-friendly ingredients including Plantcaps® capsules infused with Prebiotics
- Tested prior to encapsulation for allergens, GMOs, microbes, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
- Tested again to confirm potency, purity, and activity after encapsulation
- Ships in recyclable cardboard security boxes filled with biodegradable packing peanuts
- Competitively priced
- Empty bottle, money-back guarantee (less shipping)
- 24/7 customer support
- Only available on their website (more on this in a minute)
- Magnesium dosage is too low
In all, the nature-identical ingredients and dosages included in the Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi are perfect for a multivitamin.
Magnesium is too low and most of us are deficient in this critical nutrient. But once again Opti Nutra has thought of everything in this formula.
Because the magnesium that’s ‘missing’ in the multivitamin is in the Performance Lab Sleep formula. Which is when you should be taking your magnesium dose anyway.
Most important is Opti Nutra fully discloses how much of each ingredient is in each 4-capsule dose. So you know exactly what you need to add for your unique health issues.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Pricing of the Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi is competitive for what you get. But I realize some will express disappointment that Opti Nutra only sells this multivitamin from the Performance Lab website.
I’ve been in internet and direct marketing for many years and completely understand the challenges of putting new products into retail stores. Especially worldwide.
The goods news is Opti Nutra offers a risk-free, “empty bottle”, money-back guarantee.
Opti Nutra also decided not to offer Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi on Amazon.com because they don’t want this multivitamin to appear alongside low-quality junk products. And I get that. Amazon can also be a place where reviews are easily manipulated by jealous competitors.
And the thing is anyone looking to understand the methodology that went into developing this multivitamin, Amazon is not the place for extensive product descriptions.
This is the best multivitamin I’ve ever used. And this after over 10 years of trying several whole-food multivitamins from various manufacturers.
It’s certainly not the cheapest multivitamin on the market. But it’s not unreasonably priced either at only $40 for a month supply.
And for me, Opti Nutra has set a higher standard for the entire supplement market by introducing this multivitamin. And the rest of their Performance Lab line of supplements.
Product and packaging quality, nature-identical BioGenesis™ vitamins and minerals, Plantcaps®, testing and more testing. Things the average person wouldn’t even notice.
But we’re not average! And we demand the best.
If you’d like to try Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi, or learn more about this exceptional line of supplements, please go to their website for more: www.PerformanceLab.com
i] Loprinzi P.D., Branscum A., Hanks J., Smit E. “Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics and their Joint Association With Cardiovascular Disease Biomarkers in US Adults” Mayo Clinic Proceedings April 2016 Volume 91, Issue 4, Pages 432–442 (source)
[iii] Shay C.M., Ning H., Daniels S.R., Rooks C.R., Gidding S.S., Lloyd-Jones D.M. “Status of cardiovascular health in US adolescents: prevalence estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2005-2010.” Circulation. 2013 Apr 2;127(13):1369-76. (source)
[v] McCann D., et. El. “Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial” Department of Child Health, University of Southampton, UK September 6, 2007 (source)
[viii] Makumire, S., Chakravadhanula, V.S., Kollisch, G., Redel, E., & Shonhai, A. (2014, May 16). “Immunomodulatory activity of zinc peroxide (ZnO2) and titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles and their effects on DNA and protein integrity.” Toxicology Letters 227(1):56-64. (source)
[ix] Mursu J., Robien K., Harnack L.J., Park K., Jacobs D.R. Jr. “Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women: the Iowa Women's Health Study.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 2011 Oct 10;171(18):1625-33. (source)