Multivitamin supplements can be a great way to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Even if you eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, you might be missing some key nutrients. Multivitamins can help to increase your intake of a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals to help bridge the gap between your diet and your nutrient consumption, available in convenient to take tablets, capsules or soft gels.
A multivitamin is most helpful under circumstances where your body requires additional nutrition, for example when your body is in a state of needing to build and repair. This includes growth and development during the childhood and adolescent years, preparing for pregnancy, menstrual complications, maintaining a healthy pregnancy or training as an athlete. Certain health conditions, such as digestive disorders may also require supplementation of a multivitamin to increase nutrient intake when the appetite is low and the rate of absorption is compromised.
It's safe to say that most people nowadays could benefit from the additional support of a multi-vitamin when faced with the ever-increasing stressors of life paired with a typically not so ideal diet.
Multivitamins can help to strengthen your immune function, support eye health, promote healthy skin, maintain strong bones, improve quality of life, and support reproductive function.
All multivitamins have similar nutrients, but multivitamins for women have specific ingredients and dosing to meet their nutritional needs.
The National Institutes of Health recommends taking a multivitamin specific to your age and gender.
It is well known that during the reproductive and menstruating years, women may need additional supplementation of certain nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium. Vitamins and mineral needs will differ depending on the current stage of life of each woman such as childhood, adolescence, the reproductive years, and menopause.
Let's take a closer look at some of the key nutrients for women's health.
Vitamins and minerals for women's health
Iron is a mineral and an essential component of hemoglobin, which is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of the body.
If you are not getting enough oxygen in your blood, you may experience fatigue, but also weakness, and problems with concentration and memory. Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Lack of iron can also lead to anemia. Low iron is common in menstruating women and often a sign of fatigue and heavy bleeding.
As menstruating women lose blood each month, their need for iron increases because blood contains about 70% of your body’s iron. When diet is not enough to improve iron levels this is where supplementation may be required.
People who may require more iron include menstruating women, vegans and vegetarians, frequent blood donors, and high-performance athletes.
A critical nutrient during pregnancy, folate is the natural form of "folic acid" which is a B vitamin involved in the formation of red blood cells and the development of the nervous system of the fetus.
Deficiency has been associated with birth defects in babies and needs increase by the mother by 50% during pregnancy. This B vitamin can help to reduce the risk of any major birth defects of the brain or spine in newborn children.
Too low levels of folate can lead to a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia. Folate-deficiency anemia is more common in women of childbearing age than in men.
Everyone needs folate but it is especially important if you are looking to become pregnant or are pregnant, and levels should be monitored by a professional health care provider.
B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that is necessary for cognitive and cardiovascular health as well as normal nerve functioning.
Vitamin B12 is stored throughout the body thus it can take years for a deficiency to develop. However, this is an essential vitamin that is critical for brain health and cognition but also overall bodily functions.
Vitamin B12 is necessary to make red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body. Low vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and symptoms of fatigue and weakness but also nerve damage and issues with brain function affecting memory and focus.
It is therefore vitally important to ensure that you are getting B12 either through your diet or from supplementation and that you are actually absorbing it. The best way to ensure that your levels are met is to get testing done with your healthcare provider.
Those at an increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency include elderly populations, vegetarians and vegans, and individuals with gastrointestinal disorders as well as pernicious anemia.
As the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, magnesium is responsible for over 400 functions associated with nervous system regulation, muscle function, energy production, immune function, blood sugar control, insulin sensitivity, and cardiovascular health.
Magnesium is easily flushed from the system from factors such as alcohol, coffee, diuretics as well as high stress.
What can magnesium do for women's health? As a nervous system and muscle relaxant, magnesium can help to improve symptoms associated with PMS such as irritability, menstrual cramping, anxiety, insomnia, water retention, and breast tenderness.
Magnesium improves the function of insulin, leptin, and thyroid hormones. It is anti-inflammatory and essential for the manufacture of both estrogen and progesterone.
Magnesium can help to regulate cortisol levels, improve the function of hormones, decrease stress, improve menstrual regularity and ovulation, and support quality sleep.
Zinc is an important mineral needed for tissue and cell formation, wound healing, immune function, digestive function, skin elasticity and repair, and reproductive function.
It is common for women to need more zinc especially during pregnancy and lactation as deficiency can occur and this mineral is needed to support proper immune development of the growing fetus.
The birth control pill may also suppress zinc levels.
As a natural anti-inflammatory, zinc may help to improve symptoms associated with PMS such as menstrual pain, low mood, and acne as well as regulate the female cycle and improve the maturation of ovarian follicles, supporting ovulation.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin needed for optimal immune function, bone health, skin health, mental health, and many more functions of the body.
The need for Vitamin D increases with lack of sunlight exposure, post menopause, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and in African-American, Hispanic, or Asian-American descent.
Vitamin D is well known for its role in bone health, working closely with calcium to maintain healthy bone density. The risk of osteoporosis can increase in women over 50 as well as those with conditions affecting vitamin D absorption.
This vitamin has an important role in fertility and influences the functioning of the reproductive system in women as it is involved in follicle maturation, hormone production, and anti-inflammatory actions (1).
In women, low vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, PMS, gestational diabetes, bacterial vaginosis and adverse pregnancy outcomes (2)(3).
The best way to determine whether or not your vitamin D levels are optimal is to get your serum levels tested by your doctor.
How to choose a quality multivitamin for women
Not all supplements are created equal, and that goes for multivitamins too!
In order to reap the benefits and get the most bang for your buck, it's important to be aware of certain criteria to make sure your multi makes the cut and meets your needs:
When a product is third-party tested this means it has been evaluated by a company that is not involved in the production or sale of the supplement.
How can you know if a product is third-party tested? Look for the third-party testing label from the certification company on a supplement to assess whether it has been evaluated for its safety, efficacy, and use.
Examples of third-party companies include Consumer Lab, NSF International, Informed Choice, ISURA, and USP.
Third-party testing is one of the best ways to feel confident and reassured with your supplement choice by knowing that it has gone through vigorous testing to deem it a quality product.
Each country will have its own regulations but in Canada natural health products are regulated by their NPN (Natural Product Number) number listed on the product, deeming the supplement safe, effective, and of high quality under their recommended conditions of use by the government of Canada.
You can also identify licensed natural health products in Canada by the Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label.
Keep an eye out for these labels on the supplement bottle to ensure that you are getting a quality supplement and avoid spending money on a product that doesn't work and as a result may just end up as expensive urine.
According to your stage of life, the need for certain nutrients such as calcium, omega 3 fats, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B12 may fluctuate due to reduce digestive absorption, reduced caloric intake, use of medications, pregnancy, lactation, and menstruation.
This is why age-specific formulas can help provide you with the most appropriate nutrients and dosages.
There can be many filler ingredients hiding in supplements which act as bulking agents and preservatives but that are not so beneficial for health such as soybean oil, maltodextrin, titanium dioxide, sodium benzoate, artificial colors, and stearic acid.
Though not all fillers will be harmful it's best to avoid them as much as possible.
It is of particular importance to be attentive to these additives if you react to certain ingredients such as wheat, corn, soy, eggs, or gelatin. These will typically be listed under "other ingredients" on the supplement label.
Form of the vitamin or mineral
Vitamins and minerals can come in many forms and this will affect how they act in the body by impacting their rate of absorption.
Prime examples are vitamin B12, magnesium and folic acid.
Cyanocobalamin is the most common form of vitamin B12 found in supplements, however it has to first be converted in the body to methylcobalamin, and this process may be compromised in many people. Methylcobalamin is the active form of the vitamin and can be used by the body more efficiently.
Folic acid is the synthetic version of vitamin B9 which is the inactive form of the vitamin and not easily utilized in the body as it must be converted into 5-MTHF before entering the bloodstream. Folic acid is the cheaper form of vitamin B9 which is why it is found in most supplements however the active form 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) is what you want to look for, especially if you do have the MTHFR mutation which can be tested for.
Magnesium comes in a variety of forms which will have different uses and effects in the body.
The least absorbable form is magnesium oxide which can benefit those experiencing constipation as it is poorly absorbed in the intestinal tract. For more absorbable and effective forms you can opt for magnesium bisglycinate, citrate, malate, and threonate.
Some multi vitamins will require a significant amount of capsules per day which can be a dealbreaker for many people who are already taking supplements or have trouble remembering them. Pay attention to the nutrient servings per capsule to make sure you are reaching your daily targets and if it is realistic for you. This will also affect how long your supply will last which should also be taken into consideration.
Best multivitamins for Women's Health
Top multivitamins for women at Vitasave
Garden of Life Vitamin Code - Women 50 and Wiser
In developing Vitamin Code 50 & Wiser Women’s Formula, Garden of Life paid special attention to the complexities of a woman’s body in this changing stage of life. Providing select nutrients to support breast health with added vitamins D and E, bone strength with vitamins C, D, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and cardiovascular support by adding vitamin B complex and vitamins C and E. Vitamin Code 50 & Wiser Women’s formulation delivers the appropriate nutrients to support these key health areas
MegaFood Women's One Daily 90 Tablets
Breast Health – Vitamins D and E
Bone Strength – Vitamins C, D, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc
Healthy Heart & Blood Pressure – Vitamin B Complex, Vitamins C and E
Optimal Digestion – Live Probiotics and Enzymes, Vitamin D3, Zinc
Eye Health – Vitamins A, C and Zinc
Memory & Concentration – Vitamin B Complex, Vitamins C, D3 and E
Women's One Daily is made only from wholesome, all natural ingredients, certified organic herbs and with no preservatives. Whole food nutrients are readily recognized and better utilized by the body, therefore you can take lower potencies with better results. Less is more with food.
Platinum Activ-X Multi for Women
- Wholesome nourishment in a convenient one tablet daily formula
- Supports healthy emotional balance & stress response*
- Rejuvenates health and well-being*
- Protective array of carotenoids and age-defying antioxidants from colorful whole foods
- Easy to digest & can be taken on an empty stomach without upset
Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, activ-X for Women is designed to provide increased energy while helping you train harder and recover faster after strenuous physical activity. Featuring essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega oils and adaptogens such as rhodiola and cordyceps, activ-X for Women suspends its nutrients in omega oils for better absorption. Best of all, it gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing it’s NSF certified to be free of substances banned in sport!
Progressive MultiVitamin for Active Women
- Improve mental performance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve cardiovascular activity
- Boost oxygen uptake
- Reduces stress and fatigue
- Increases physical work capacity
- Shortens recovery time
- Increases vitality
Progressive MultiVitamins for Active Women is designed for women on the go. Whether you exercise, work long hours, raise a family or any combination of the above, your body needs the support of an Active MultiVitamin formula. Progressive Multivitamin for Active Women features Green Food Concentrates, Stress Relief Nutrients, Antioxidant Support, Green Tea, Vitamins D3 & K2, and Glutamine & ALA.
- Combats stress and fatigue
- Increases energy and stamina
- Replaces lost electrolytes
- Provides additional antioxidant support
- Accelerates recovery following exercise
- Protects your heart
- Supports healthy thyroid function
- Strengthens immune function
- Helps with red blood cell formation
- Promotes clear, healthy skin
Whole Earth and Sea Pure Food Woman's Multivitamin and Mineral NON-GMO
The Pure Food Women’s Multivitamin &Mineral contains vitamin and mineral complexes important for women, including calcium and magnesium in a 2:1 ratio, vitamins D3 and K2, iron, and active forms of folate, B12, and other B vitamins. Enzymes, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients are also included for energy and vitality, making this vegan-friendly formula ideal for any woman looking for a raw-food-based multi packed full of organic ingredients.
- Specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of women
- Raw, whole-food bioenergetic formula featuring active vitamins for direct use
- Made with farm-fresh, organic, and sustainably grown non-GMO ingredients
- Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
- $2 from each bottle sold goes to the Plant a Seed &See What Grows Foundation
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.