1. Spread your dose throughout the day. Multis designed to be taken in several smaller doses are better absorbed by the body, and they allow you to adjust the amounts you take based on each day's diet. Once-a-day multis make better sense for people who have trouble remembering or are too busy to take several pills each day.
  2. Choose natural nutrients. Natural forms of nutrients generally are more easily absorbed. Look to the label for natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol or RRR-alpha-tocopherol), natural selenium (selenium-rich yeast or L-selenomethionine), and natural chromium (chromium-rich yeast).
  3. Look for active forms of B's. To improve absorption, buy multis with the riboflavin-5-phosphate form of vitamin B2, the pyridoxal-5-phosphate form of B6, and the methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin forms of B12.
  4. Find adequate calcium and magnesium levels. A good multivitamin should have almost equal amounts of calcium citrate and magnesium citrate (400 to 800 mg each). If your multivitamin does not have adequate doses of these nutrients, consider taking an additional calcium-magnesium supplement. Beware that some people develop diarrhea when taking more than 300 to 400 mg of magnesium. The best way to get calcium is through food sources.
  5. Take your multi with a meal. The body better assimilates the nutrients when food and digestive enzymes are also present—and nausea is less likely.
  6. Store your supplements in a cool, dark place. Heat and light can degrade some of the nutrients in multivitamins.

Sources: Douglas Husbands, DC, CCN; Georgianna Donadio, DC, PhD.