A good multivitamin can provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall health. After all, each micronutrient in a multivitamin plays an essential role in our bodies.
But when it comes to women’s health in particular, what specific nutrients are really necessary? Keep reading to learn how to choose the best women’s multivitamin.
Should I Take a Multivitamin?Before we look at what the best women’s multivitamin includes, let’s review the perfect candidate to supplement with one.
Ideally, we want to get as many nutrients as we can from the food we eat. However, that’s not always possible. That said, here are a few key indicators I use to assess whether a client may benefit from a daily multivitamin:
- having diet restrictions due to a lifestyle choice, such as following a vegan or vegetarian diet
- removing certain foods or food groups due to food allergies and/or intolerances
- having an eating disorder that restricts food intake for weight loss or body-image concerns
- taking certain medications that impair absorption or deplete your body of nutrients
- medical conditions with which the body may not be able to absorb nutrients properly
Unsure if this list applies to you? A registered dietitian can help determine if your situation falls under one of these indicators. However, it’s always best to review nutrient concerns with your primary care physician.
How to Choose the Best Multivitamin for WomenWhen shopping for a women’s multivitamin, here are some tips to help you choose the best one.
Check the Nutrition Facts
The best multivitamin for women will be formulated to provide as close to 100 percent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of essential vitamins and minerals as possible.
Some nutrients may be offered in amounts over 100 percent, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (Many of these nutrients like vitamins C, B12, thiamin, and riboflavin are water-soluble and lose some of their concentration during digestion.)
Investigate the LabelWhile you’re looking at the nutrition facts and ingredient details and benefits, you can go the extra mile by paying attention to additional certifications. For instance, a good women’s multivitamin may have the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. The FDA developed this dietary supplement certification to ensure that its identity, purity, strength, and composition meet established quality standards. The FDA will also inspect the facility that manufactures the supplement for quality and regulation purposes.
Consider Your Personal Needs + Concerns
Most importantly, look for a multivitamin for women that’s appropriate for your age, health history, and unique concerns.
For example, it’s best that women who have already experienced menopause opt for a women’s multivitamin without iron. Meanwhile, women who still menstruate can benefit most from a multivitamin with iron.
6 Essential Vitamins and Minerals for WomenWondering what should be in a women’s multivitamin? Be sure to seek out adequate amounts of the following vitamins and minerals in the supplement you choose.
First, calcium builds and protects strong bones. Our bones actually store calcium, so if you aren’t consuming enough of it in your diet, your body will take calcium from them. And that’s not good!
Also, women who have experienced menopause are at a higher risk for loss of bone density due to hormonal changes. For that reason, I recommend that postmenopausal women in particular supplement with calcium.Additionally, foods like yogurt, salmon, and dark green leafy vegetables are all rich in calcium.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and plays an important role in your immunity, as well.
Additionally, you may need vitamin D if you don’t get enough sunlight. Other instances that can contribute to a vitamin D deficiency include GI distress or weight-loss surgery.It’s found in only a few foods naturally, such as fatty fish, plus fortified foods like orange juice and cereal. The choices are limited, thus making it difficult to get enough from food sources alone.
Just like calcium and vitamin D, magnesium is essential for women over the age of 40.
Magnesium supports strong bones and may help prevent more serious bone loss over time. It’s also helpful for digestion and preventing muscle cramping.
Iron is essential for all women who have periods. Why? Because we lose iron every month during menstruation.
Iron-rich foods include spinach, beans, lean meats, poultry, tofu, and fortified cereals. However, in terms of diet, many women don’t consume enough iron through food alone. That’s why it’s one of the most important nutrients to look for in a women’s multivitamin.
5. Folic Acid
Folic acid is also known as folate. Women considering getting pregnant should consume adequate amounts of folic acid in particular, either through their diet or with the help of supplements.
More importantly, for folic acid to be effective, it needs to be taken in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The tricky part is that it’s often the time you don’t yet know that you’re pregnant. (PS: Look here for more pregnancy-specific supplement tips.)
Foods rich in folic acid include spinach, oranges, nuts, beans, chicken, and whole grains.
6. Vitamin B12
Women (as well as men) over the age of 50 may require B12 supplementation since our absorption of vitamin B12 diminishes with age.
Then, vitamin B12 is most commonly found in animal products like meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. For that reason, vegans and vegetarians should be sure to supplement with vitamin B12, whether in its own formula or included in your women’s multivitamin.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, always think “food first.” While multivitamins aren’t cure-alls, they can help fill gaps in nutrition, especially when you can’t get vital amounts through your diet.
Consuming a balanced diet comprised of nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats is still the preferred and recommended way of getting in your daily vitamins and minerals.
Overall, the best women’s multivitamin should provide a well-rounded foundation, such as HUM’s Base Control. Not only is Base Control a highly absorbable and vegetarian multivitamin, but it’s also available in two forms (with and without iron) that cater to personalized needs. It also packs 22 essential nutrients, 14 of them providing 100 percent of your RDA (plus a little extra for those water-soluble nutrients).