How To Choose The Best Women’s Multivitamin

Here’s what you really need.

The right multivitamin can provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall health. 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? Here’s how you can choose the best women’s multivitamin.

Who Needs A Multivitamin

First, let’s review the perfect candidate for a multivitamin. Ideally, we want to get as many of our nutrients from the food we eat. However, that’s not always possible. Here are a few key indicators I use to assess whether a client may benefit from a daily multivitamin:

  • Eating a restrictive diet because of a lifestyle choice, such as following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
  • Having an active eating disorder which restricts food intake for weight loss or body image concerns.
  • Removing certain foods or food groups due to food allergies and/or intolerances.
  • Medical conditions, such as celiac disease or colitis in which the body may not be able to absorb nutrients properly.
  • Medical surgeries, like gastric bypass surgery.
  • Taking certain medications that impair absorption or deplete your body of nutrients.

Unsure if this is you? A registered dietitian can help determine if you fall under one of these indicators. However, it is always best to review nutrient concerns with your primary care physician.

What To Look For

Start with checking out the back of the label. A multivitamin should be formulated to provide as close to 100% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of essential vitamins and minerals as possible. Some nutrients may be offered in amounts over 100% and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of these nutrients like Vitamin C, B12, Thiamin, and Riboflavin are water-soluble and lose some of their concentration during digestion.

Then, consider a multivitamin that is appropriate for your age and health history. For example, women who have gone through menopause do not require extra iron, whereas women who are still menstruating can benefit from additional iron.

Finally, pay attention to additional certifications, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification. The FDA developed this for dietary supplements to ensure the 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.

Important Vitamins and Minerals for Women

When it comes to women in particular, these nutrients are some of the most important to seek adequate amounts of in a multivitamin:

Calcium

Calcium builds and protects strong bones. Our bones actually store calcium so if you are not consuming enough calcium in your diet your body will take calcium from your bones. That’s no good! Foods like yogurt, salmon or dark green leafy vegetables are all rich in calcium. Also, women who have gone through menopause are at a higher risk for loss of bone density because of hormonal changes. For that reason, I recommend that postmenopausal women supplement with calcium, especially.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and plays an important role in your immunity as well. Vitamin D is only found in a few foods naturally, such as fatty fishes or in fortified foods like orange juice and cereal. This is limiting, making it difficult to get enough from food sources. Notoriously, you may need Vitamin D if you do not get enough sunlight. Other facts that can contribute to a Vitamin D deficiency are GI diseases like Inflammatory Bowel Disease or weight loss surgery.

Magnesium

Magnesium, just like Calcium and Vitamin D, is essential for women over the age of forty as it can support strong bones and may help prevent bone loss that can lead to conditions like osteoporosis. It’s also helpful for digestion and preventing muscle cramping.

Iron

Iron is essential for all women who have periods. Why? Because we lose iron every month during menstruation. In terms of diet, many women do not consume enough iron through food alone. Iron rich foods include spinach, beans, lean meats, poultry, tofu and fortified cereals. A lack of iron in your diet can even result in iron-deficiency anemia.

Folic Acid

This one 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. Adequate folic acid can lower the risk of having a baby with spina bifida. More importantly, for folic acid to be effective it needs to be taken in the first few weeks of pregnancy. The tricky part is this is often the time you don’t yet know that you’re pregnant. Foods rich in folic acid include spinach, oranges, nuts, beans, chicken, and whole grains.

Vitamin B12

Women (and men) over the age of fifty may require supplementation here as our absorption of B12 diminishes with age. Women following a vegan diet or a strict vegetarian diet should also be sure to supplement with Vitamin B12 as it is naturally found in animal products like meats, fish, dairy products and eggs.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line, think food first. Multivitamins are not a cure-all but they can help fill nutrient gaps – especially when you can’t get it 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 vitamin and minerals.

Overall, your multivitamin should be providing you a well-rounded foundation, like HUM’s Base Control. Not only is Base Control a highly absorbable, vegetarian multivitamin, but it’s also available in two forms (with iron and iron-free). That way, women can personalize their multivitamin to their needs. Base Control womens multivitamin also delivers 22 essential nutrients, 14 of them providing 100% of your RDA and a little extra for those water soluble nutrients.

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