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Ranking the best apple cider vinegar of 2021

Written by John Davis

Last updated: November 26, 2020

It’s more sour than sweet, but apple cider vinegar is making big headlines as a weight loss supplement and as a solution for controlling blood sugar. On top of that, it’s a popular natural cosmetic for revitalizing skin, scalp, and hair.

It can be baffling to try to sort through all the apple cider vinegar options out there, so our research team did the legwork for you. Here are the best options on the market, plus in-depth info on the benefits and side effects of apple cider vinegar.

Rankings

1. Essential Elements Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

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One of the best sources of apple cider vinegar is Essential Elements Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies, which are derived from “The Mother”, and contain beneficial bacteria and enzymes. Apple cider vinegar has also been proven to boost energy and kick-start a healthy metabolic rate. It’s antimicrobial, lowers blood glucose levels, and reduces body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference.

Each gummy is fortified with B vitamins and iodine to further enhance your metabolism and energy. With a delicious red apple flavor, it’s no surprise this is Bodynutrition’s apple cider vinegar winner of 2021.

2. VitaBalance Apple Cider Vinegar Pure

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VitaBalance Apple Cider Vinegar Pure gives you all the benefits without the nasty side effects. Many users report they feel less bloated and lighter as soon as they begin taking it regularly. Add it to a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise, and you could start seeing results right away.

No harmful additives. No impurities. Made in an FDA registered facility that follows GMP guidelines.

3. Zeal Naturals Apple Cider Vinegar

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Zeal Naturals is popular and indeed potent; each vegetarian cellulose capsule delivers 500 mg of apple cider vinegar powder per capsule, alongside 20 mg of cayenne pepper for extra weight loss benefits. 

If you are taking high doses on a daily basis, but don’t want a liquid supplement, Zeal Naturals is right up your alley.

4. Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

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Bragg Organic might’ve been the company that kick-started the apple cider vinegar trend. Since 1912, the company has been making health foods and supplements, but by far its best-known product is its iconic yellow-labeled apple cider vinegar.

Bragg Organic has always emphasized how it includes the “mother,” which is the cloudy, unfiltered remnants of the apple fermentation process. The mother is rich in live bacterial cultures and byproducts of the fermentation process; many people believe this is essential for getting the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

5. Puritan’s Pride Apple Cider Vinegar

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Puritan’s Pride doesn’t make as many supplements as some of the heavy hitters, but the ones it does make, it makes well. No exceptions here: their apple cider vinegar supplement pushes 600 mg of apple cider vinegar powder per pill, all wrapped up in a vegetable cellulose capsule (vegans rejoice!).

With 200 tablets per bottle, combined with the high dosage per pill, this apple cider vinegar will last you a long time. This makes it a great choice if you want to take a high dose of apple cider vinegar every day, but don’t want to go with a liquid.

6. Herbal Secrets Apple Cider Vinegar

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Herbal Secrets delivers a very solid and reliable apple cider vinegar in a simple capsule. The good news: it’s potent, with 500 mg of apple cider vinegar powder per capsule, and there are no extraneous supplements If you want just one thing (apple cider vinegar in a capsule), this is the way to go.

The bad news? It’s a gelatin capsule, which might not float your boat if you’re a strict vegan. But for most people that won’t be a dealbreaker. Beyond that, it’s hard to find much fault in Herbal Secrets. 

7. Nutricost Apple Cider Vinegar

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Solid dose, big bottle, and a low cost. That’s what you get with Nutricost, and in this case the name is spot-on. It’s one of the most effective pill-based apple cider vinegar supplements out there.

For a 500 mg dose of apple cider vinegar, you really can’t go wrong with Nutricost.

8. NOW Apple Cider Vinegar

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You can always count on NOW to provide a simple, straightforward supplement, and that’s certainly the case with their apple cider vinegar supplement.

The dosage isn’t what it could be: the gelatin capsules contain only 450 mg of apple cider vinegar powder each. Some other competitors pack 500 or even 600 mg into a capsule. If you don’t mind the lower apple cider vinegar content per capsule, it’s a good choice.

9. Only Natural Apple Cider Vinegar Plus Grapefruit Rind Cayenne

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Only Natural combines apple cider vinegar with a mix of two other “superfood” extracts. Each capsule contains a respectable 500 mg of apple cider vinegar extract alongside 100 mg of grapefruit rind and 100 mg of cayenne pepper fruit.

Both of these are multi-use supplements that have claimed weight loss, antioxidant, and pain-relieving properties. Whether these are right for you is going to depend on your supplementing routine and your personal goals.

10. Angry Supplements Apple Cider Vinegar

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Angry Supplements takes their apple cider vinegar seriously. This product is in the category of supplements that blend apple cider vinegar with other weight loss supplements, hopefully to fortify their effects.

The primary ingredients are 500 mg of apple cider vinegar, 300 mg of gymnema sylvestre, and a proprietary blend of several weight loss supplements: chromium picolinate, garcinia cambogia, raspberry ketone, and CLA. Because of these extras, you might want to look elsewhere unless you already know you want these additional supplements included.

11. Havasu Nutrition Apple Cider Vinegar

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Havasu markets a hard game, but their apple cider vinegar supplement falls a bit flat compared to the competition. Each serving delivers 600 mg of apple cider vinegar powder, but a serving is actually two capsules, not one. So each capsule only has 300 mg of apple cider vinegar, and a bottle is only 60 capsules! It’s just not a great solution and doesn’t offer any special extras or perks to make this one work it.

Category winners

Best apple cider vinegar overall: Essential Elements Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

Usually gummy supplements have to make sacrifices on dosage and purity—but not Essential Elements. These apple cider vinegar gummies deliver a potent dose of apple cider vinegar powder and taste great, too. 

Best apple cider vinegar for weight loss: Zeal Naturals Apple Cider Vinegar

Zeal Naturals pairs raw apple cider vinegar extract with cayenne pepper extract, a popular natural supplement for burning fat and reducing appetite. This one-two punch means it’s great if your goal is losing weight. 

Best apple cider vinegar for metabolic health: VitaBalance Apple Cider Vinegar Pure

The same great properties that make VitaBalance a winner for weight loss also make it great for controlling blood sugar and improving your metabolic health. If you want to hew close to the scientific research that’s successfully used apple cider vinegar to improve glucose regulation, VitaBalance is the way to go. 

Best apple cider vinegar for hair and scalp: Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Bragg makes the best natural, liquid-form apple cider vinegar on the market—it is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and includes the probiotic “mother” that settles at the bottom of the bottle. Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is great for revitalizing hair and especially your scalp: just massage it into the roots of your hair and wait 15 minutes before washing it out. 

Best apple cider vinegar for skin care and acne: Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Scalp is not so different from the skin on the rest of your body, which is why Bragg is our pick for skin care, too. Whether you’re using it as a toner or as a treatment for acne, you’ll benefit from the all-natural and unprocessed formulation. 

Best apple cider vinegar for heart health:  VitaBalance Apple Cider Vinegar Pure

VitaBalance has one of the highest dosages of any apple cider vinegar capsule, and delivers it in a super-simple capsule with no extraneous ingredients. These properties all make it attractive as a supplemental option for improving heart health by controlling factors like cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides (all active areas of research).

Who should buy apple cider vinegar?

In contrast to supplements with a broad range of applications, apple cider vinegar has a pretty well-defined and narrow scope. They’re useful for controlling blood sugar, which means that they could be useful for people who have hyperglycemia, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, or type two diabetes mellitus.

On top of this, apple cider vinegar has been studied as a potential way to lose weight. This goes hand in hand with blood sugar control, because excess body fat is one of the biggest risk factors for developing chronic health problems related to dysregulated blood sugar.

Perhaps due to its ability to control body weight, apple cider vinegar is also useful for controlling blood lipids and blood cholesterol, which in turn suggests that they could reduce your risk factors for heart disease.

These useful properties mean that apple cider vinegar, whether in a pill or in liquid, are most useful for people who are at risk for the constellation of chronic health problems linked to a poor diet and physical inactivity: metabolic problems, weight gain, and increased risk for heart disease.

How we ranked

Apple cider vinegar comes in two distinct forms, pills and liquid. Since both have their respective advantages, we made sure that we reviewed a wide range of apple cider products that came in both pill and liquid form.

We evaluated liquid and pill based supplements separately, with related but distinct criteria. For apple cider vinegar supplements that came in liquid form, we put a high priority on products that include the “mother,” which is the colloquial term for the cloudy sediment that’s formed by the bacteria that convert the sugars in apple cider into acetic acid (i.e. vinegar).

Many commercial forms of apple cider vinegar, and vinegar generally, filter off the mother so it doesn’t make the solution cloudy. However, many health experts believe that the mother contains many of the important antioxidants and probiotic bacteria that make apple cider vinegar so healthy. As such, we made sure any liquid apple cider vinegar we included in our rankings had the mother included.

Surprisingly, this eliminated a lot of products, which explains why our rankings are so dominated by pill based apple cider vinegar.

Once removing liquid based products that did not include the mother, we then made sure that the packaging was sufficient to protect the antioxidants present in apple cider vinegar. A thick plastic or glass bottle with a solid resealable lid is necessary to keep apple cider vinegar as fresh as possible, and we dropped any product that was packaged in a bottle of questionable quality.

When it came to the pill-based apple cider vinegar that we reviewed, we first checked the dosage. Apple cider vinegar pills use powder-form apple cider vinegar, which is created by evaporating off the liquid in whole apple cider vinegar.

This evaporation process leaves all of the important enzymes, bacteria spores, and antioxidants that are contained in the mother, which makes it easier to know you are getting a quality product. However, dosage varies substantially from product to product.

We kept only the highest dosage apple cider vinegar pills for further analysis. From the remaining candidates, we dropped anything that included too many binders and fillers. Silicates, stearates, and other binding and stabilizing agents aren’t contributing anything to the biological efficacy of an apple cider vinegar pill, and the top-ranked products didn’t need to rely on these ingredients to ensure freshness. We had a slight preference for cellulose-based capsules, but gelatin wasn’t a deal-breaker.

Finally, we kept an eye out for other helpful ingredients to accomplish the same weight loss goals that apple cider helps with. Some of these ingredients, like cayenne pepper, are great additions; others, like complicated proprietary weight loss blends, would probably be better left out of an apple cider pill.

Top-ranked supplements either included no additional ingredients, or only included a few pure and helpful extracts.

Benefits

Apple cider vinegar is a natural, fermented product proven effective in decreasing blood sugar levels and supporting weight loss. Called “sour wine” by the French, apple cider vinegar is a potent anti-microbial substance (like probiotics) that’s been around since the era of Hippocrates.

While many people habitually turn to pharmaceutical medicines for a range of needs in the modern world, appreciation for tried and true natural remedies continues to grow.

This powerhouse effectively kills E. coli (1) and other bacteria, doubles as a cleaning and disinfecting agent, and can be used for treating warts, ear infections, and nail fungi. Apple cider vinegar can help reduce food spoilage, make your hair shine, and condition your mouth for better oral health.

You don’t need a prescription, and if you buy a bottle containing the “mother,” from which many believe the benefits are derived, you may even be able to culture your own apple cider vinegar.

The benefits of cultured foods for gut health as well as general overall health are gaining recognition.

Apple cider vinegar is high in acetic acid. The active compound in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. This antimicrobial substance is the byproduct of a two-step fermentation process that begins with adding yeast to crushed apples and allowing it to convert the sugars into alcohol.

Next, bacteria are added to the culture, and the resulting acetic acid kills certain harmful pathogens. (2)

Apple cider vinegar that is organic and unfiltered contains the “mother” culture, which consists of enzymes, friendly bacteria, and proteins in a strand-like configuration.

Hippocrates recommended apple cider vinegar for cleansing wounds, and it’s a popular home remedy and disinfectant, though studies to back up these traditional uses are lacking. Some believe it can be useful in acne treatment.

Evidence does show apple cider vinegar inhibits the growth of E. coli in foods (3), and it’s used for other food preservation applications.

Apple cider vinegar may help improve blood sugar regulation. Nearly 30 million Americans suffered from diabetes in 2012, with the disease ranked as the 7th leading cause of death in the country. (4)

Elevated blood sugars in diabetics are caused either by the body’s failure to produce insulin, or insulin resistance, which means the cells don’t respond to the hormone and can’t uptake glucose for fuel. (5)

While dietary strategies like cutting out refined carbs and sugar can be very effective for lowering blood sugar levels, clinical trials show apple cider vinegar dropped participants’ blood sugar levels by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread. (6)

In another study, subjects taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime showed a 4% reduction of fasting blood sugars the next morning. (7)

When the effects of apple cider vinegar were tested after diabetic patients ate a high-carb meal, the results were impressive: insulin sensitivity improved by 19 – 34%; both blood glucose and insulin response levels dropped as well. (8)

In searching for avenues to assist diabetics in managing blood sugar, a respectable amount of research has been done with both humans and rats using apple cider vinegar, with promising outcomes. (9, 10, 11)

Adding apple cider vinegar to the diet may help pre-diabetics avoid developing the disease. High blood sugar levels are associated with overweight and obesity, making this a viable strategy for weight control. (12)

Apple cider vinegar may help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. With cardiovascular disease fingered as the world’s biggest killer (13), a natural supplement shown to positively affect heart health is great news.

The benefits have only been noted with lab rats, but if human trials show similar results, apple cider vinegar may help make a dent in these numbers.

Three known markers for an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease include high blood pressure, elevated blood triglycerides and high cholesterol.

When rats ate a high-cholesterol diet, apple cider vinegar kept blood triglycerides and cholesterol measurements lower. (14) Blood pressure levels also dropped in the animal studies. (15, 16)

Apple cider vinegar can also protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, which is known to bump up the risk of cardiovascular disease. (17)

In a human study, subjects who used salad dressing made with apple cider vinegar showed improved risk factors. (18) Keep in mind this was an observational study rather than a clinical trial.

Apple cider vinegar may help support weight loss. With its positive effect on blood sugar, apple cider vinegar may be helpful in controlling weight. (19)

One small study with 11 subjects showed increased feelings of fullness with high-carb meals, as well as fewer total calories consumed throughout the day. (20)

Obese patients who added apple cider vinegar to their diets experienced modest amounts of weight loss over a three-month period. Those who used more (two tablespoons as compared to one) lost more (3.7 pounds as compared to 2.6 pounds). (21)

While these aren’t dramatic results, participants made no other changes in lifestyle; used in combination with dietary adjustments and exercise, the effects could escalate.

Consider making a long-term commitment to the practice if you decide to give this antimicrobial compound a try. It’s no miracle-worker, but many swear by it and take it ongoing.

There’s no benefit from going overboard on dosage, and the simplest way may be to incorporate it into your diet through using it with salad dressing or adding it to homemade dishes with tart flavor. You can take anywhere from a teaspoon to a couple of tablespoons a day.

Side effects

Apple cider vinegar may cause damage to your esophagus. With the dramatic increase in apple cider vinegar’s popularity, doctors have started to warm about side effects that can come from overuse. While vinegar of all types is generally regarded as a mostly harmless cooking ingredient, like many things, when used to excess, it can cause problems.

A case report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association describes the case of a 48 year old woman who was regularly taking apple cider vinegar pills for health benefits, and got a tablet lodged in her throat (22).

The acidity of the apple cider vinegar pills she was taking caused an injury to her esophagus, and impaired her ability to swallow for several months thereafter. Following this, the research study authors undertook a study of the acidity levels present in typical apple cider vinegar pills.

Apple cider vinegar varies widely in its actual acidity content. The authors of the same study found wide variation in the acidity of different brands of apple cider vinegar, and noted that recommended dosages varied widely as well.

Moreover, the label-claimed acetic acid content was often wildly off from the true amount. Some contained acetic acid amounts so high (over 20% concentration acetic acid) that they would be considered poisonous, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.

The researchers attributed the injury to their patient’s esophagus to prolonged contact time with a very acidic apple cider vinegar pill, which damaged the lining of the throat—usually a difficult thing to do, because the throat is designed to withstand some amount of stomach acid.

This case report suggests that apple cider vinegar pills should not be taken by people who have trouble swallowing, and even in healthy people, a pill that gets lodged in your throat could cause serious problems.

Liquid apple cider vinegar, which is restricted in its acidity content, may be a better bet in these cases. However, liquid apple cider vinegar poses problems for your tooth enamel if consumed regularly.

A case study published by researchers in the Netherlands described a 15-year-old girl who experienced extensive erosion in her tooth enamel due to consuming a large glass of apple cider vinegar every day in an attempt to lose weight (23).

It appears that both pill based and liquid apple cider vinegar carry some risk of side effects, though these can be minimized by taking moderate amounts, and in the case of apple cider vinegar pills, avoiding supplements with excessive acidity levels.

Recommended dosage

Since most of the research on apple cider vinegar is confined to animal models or one-off single-occasion studies in humans, the appropriate dosage for apple cider vinegar is pretty vague. Excessive doses of liquid apple cider vinegar can be harmful for your teeth and for the acidity levels of your stomach.

The same can apply to pill-based apple cider vinegar supplements, as these can contain much higher levels of acidity than liquid forms. Even the latest review study, published in 2016 in the journal Current Opinions in Food Science, which details the myriad health benefits of apple cider vinegar, is noncommittal when it comes to the recommended dosage (24).

Manufacturers recommend anywhere from 300 to 1500 mg of apple cider vinegar powder per day, when taking capsule form apple cider vinegar pills, and anywhere from a teaspoon to two tablespoons when taking a liquid form apple cider vinegar supplement.

Doses within these ranges are a good place to start, but more research is clearly needed on the right amount of apple cider vinegar to take for health.

FAQ

Q: How do you drink apple cider vinegar?

A: Some people drink apple cider vinegar straight, but that’s not the best thing for your teeth. It’s better to mix it with some tea, soda water, or even just plain tap water to dilute it, or to drink it like a shot and quickly consume all of it.

This way, the acetic acid residue isn’t sitting on your teeth for a long time. Also, make sure you drink some water to rinse out your mouth afterwards, to prevent the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar from dissolving your tooth enamel.

Q: What is apple cider vinegar good for?

A: Most research has pointed towards using apple cider vinegar to control blood sugar, lower blood lipid levels, and assist with weight loss.

While it’s been found to be effective in animal models of all three of these conditions, there’s less research on how well these animal findings generalize to humans. Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar supplements are popular among people with metabolic syndrome, obesity, or high blood lipids, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Q: How much apple cider vinegar should you drink?

A: Dosing is one of the least well-studied aspects of apple cider vinegar supplementation, which is a consequence of most of the health claims for this supplement coming from animal studies. You can’t just scale up the dose a mouse receives in a four-week study and take the same dose for an adult human.

From case reports, we know that large amounts (several fluid ounces) are too much–this much apple cider vinegar can cause damage to your teeth and possibly stomach acid.

Manufacturers recommend between a teaspoon and a tablespoon per day of liquid apple cider vinegar, or between 300 and 1500 mg of powder form apple cider vinegar in capsules. This is a pretty broad range, so it’s better to start on the low end.

Q: How is apple cider vinegar made?

A: Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the raw juice and pulp of apples. In this sense, it’s quite similar to how traditional alcoholic cider is made: bacteria break down the sugars in the apples and turn them into acetic acid, which gives apple cider vinegar its distinctively acidic taste.

What’s different, though, is that the bacteria that make apple cider vinegar use oxygen, so instead of converting sugar to alcohol, the sugar is converted to acetic acid. Once the acidity rises to a certain level, the bacteria can’t produce any more acetic acid, so the fermentation stops.

At this point, commercial vinegar manufacturers will filter off the bacteria and sediment (known as the “mother”), but health-oriented brands (including our top-ranked manufacturers) will retain it, as it is thought to contribute to the health potential of apple cider vinegar.

Q: Can apple cider vinegar help you lose weight?

A: Based on animal models, the answer seems to be yes, but large, high-quality studies in humans haven’t been conducted yet. Apple cider vinegar seems to help mice and rats with obesity lose weight, control their blood sugar, and lower their blood lipid levels over the course of several weeks.

Other popular natural weight loss supplements, such as green coffee bean extract or green tea extract, were similarly verified in animal studies before their benefits being confirmed in humans, but apple cider vinegar is still in this preliminary stage: it has support from animal models, but not clinical trials in humans (yet).

Related articles

Recap

If you’d like to experiment with adding a cultured food to your diet, apple cider vinegar is inexpensive and has a range of potential benefits including blood sugar regulation, weight control, and improved heart health.

Apple cider vinegar is available in pill form or in liquid form, and while the research is not yet clear on the optimal dosage, it’s nevertheless one of the most exciting new avenues in natural health remedies.

People who have trouble swallowing should not take apple cider vinegar pills, and drinking too much liquid apple cider vinegar could damage your teeth, but in small to moderate amounts, it could be an effective way to help you lose weight, control blood sugar, and reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

For Bodynutrition‘s #1 apple cider vinegar recommendation, click here.

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John Davis