The Best Multivitamins for Women
See Comparison of 100 Multivitamin Brands Designed for Women
You want to improve your health and boost your energy levels. You wonder if vitamin supplements can help. The honest answer is "no". The vast majority of supplements available on the market today are simply not good enough and buying them is a waste of your money. To find the ones that are truly effective, you need to tune out the marketing noise and do some independent research. Only then you can discover what the best multivitamin for you is.
This Multivitamin Guide can be a good first step in that direction. The guide offers scientific comparison of over 100 multivitamin brands for women, including popular supplements such as Centrum, One-A-Day, Kirkland, Herbalife, Shaklee, Nutrilite/Amway, Equate, Nature Made, NOW Foods, Melaleuca, Puritan’s Pride, TwinLab, and Walgreens.
The information on this site is the result of over 6 years of scientific research and analysis. Each of the reviewed multivitamins is evaluated against 4 key parameters - composition, bioavailability, safety and potency. Then each supplement is assigned a score ranging from 0 to 10, which enables you to easily compare the effectiveness of the different brands and helps you determine for yourself what the best women's multivitamin is.
Counter to expectations, some of the most widely available multivitamin brands have received low scores. At the same time only eight relatively unknown multivitamin brands have been found to meet or exceed the benchmark for high vitamin supplement quality, potency and bioavailability.
How to find the best multivitamin for women?
The table below provides a summary of the Effectiveness Scores of some of the more popular multivitamin brands for women available on the market.
Any vitamin supplement with a score that exceeds 8.0 is considered to be "excellent". Unfortunately a quick glance at the table below reveals that the great majority of multivitamin products available on the market do not meet that threshold.
Table 1: Effectiveness scores and ranking of the most popular multivitamin brands
|21st Century||One Daily Women's||0.7||94|
|4Life||BioVitamins Type III||4.5||55|
|Absolute Nutrition||Dieters' Multi's||2.7||77|
|Action Labs||Essential Nutrients||0.5||100|
|Advanced Physician's Products||Maximum MultiVitamin/Mineral||5.8||34|
|amni||Added Protection III||7.0||17|
|Avon||VitAdvance Women's Complete Multivitamin||1.2||88|
|Bronson Laboratories||The Woman's Formula||4.5||56|
|Colgan Institute||Formula MCS||6.4||26|
|DaVinci Laboratories||Spectra Woman||6.8||21|
|Doctor's Nutrition||Mega Vites Woman||6.8||20|
|Douglas Laboratories||Ultra Preventive X||9.3||3|
|Dr. Julian Whitaker's||Forward Multi-Nutrient||7.6||14|
|EcoNugenics||Women's Longevity Rhythms Gold||5.8||35|
|Essentials by Megafood||Essentials for Life||5.2||43|
|FoodScience of Vermont||Superior Care||6.6||24|
|Freeda Vitamins||Ultra Freeda||2.7||79|
|Metagenics||Wellness Essentials Women's Prime||8.5||6|
|Garry Null's||Supreme Health Formula||4.8||49|
|GNC||GNC Women's Ultra Mega||6.9||19|
|Good Neighbor Pharmacy||Balanced Care Complete Multi||0.6||97|
|Great Earth||TNT - Total Nutrition Tablet||5.0||47|
|Herbalife||Formula 2 MultivitaminComplex||5.3||40|
|Jarrow||Multi E-Z Powder||5.0||46|
|Jean Carper's||Stop Aging Now!||6.0||32|
|Kirkland Signature (Costco)||Daily Multi||1.9||84|
|Kroger||Advanced Formula Complete||0.6||98|
|Life Extension||Life Extension Mix||8.7||5|
|Lifestyles||Lifecycles for Women||1.6||86|
|New Chapter||Every Woman's One Daily||7.2||15|
|Michael's Naturopathic Programs||for Women||3.8||64|
|Mountain Naturals of Vermont||Superior Care||7.1||16|
|Natrol||My Favorite Multiple Original||3.8||65|
|Natural Factors||MultiStart Women's||5.9||33|
|Nature Made||Multi Complete||4.3||59|
|Nature's Blend||Vitaminix Ultimate||5.6||37|
|Nature's Bounty||Green Source Vegetarian Formula||4.1||61|
|Nature's Plus||Uitra One||2.0||83|
|Nature's Sunshine||Super Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals||2.7||78|
|Nature's Way||Alive! Whole Food Energizer||6.1||31|
|Nikken||Kenzen Mega Daily 4||4.9||48|
|NOW Foods||Multiple Vitamins - LiquidGels||6.4||28|
|Nu-life||Ultimate One for Women||3.7||66|
|Nutrilite (Amway, Quixtar)||Double X||8.3||7|
|Nutrition Dynamics||Optimum Health Essentials||6.8||22|
|One A Day||Essential||4.5||57|
|Optimox||Androvite for Women||5.1||44|
|Perfect Choice||Multivitamin Specially Formulated for Women||2.9||73|
|Pharmanex (Nu Skin)||LifePak Prime||5.4||38|
|PhytoPharmica||Clinical Nutrients for Women||4.7||53|
|Pilgrim's||Silver Stars Multi||2.7||76|
|Puritan's Pride||Women's One Daily Multivitamin||6.5||25|
|Purity Products||Perfect Multi Focus Formula||7.0||18|
|QCI Nutritionals||Ultra Vitality #1||5.2||41|
|Quest||Maximum Once A Day||4.2||60|
|Rainbow Light||Advanced Nutritional System||6.4||27|
|Ripple Creek||Mega-100 (Slow Release)||3.3||70|
|Rite Aid||Whole Source||0.8||93|
|Safeway Select||Super Women's Multivitamin||2.9||72|
|Garden of Life||Vitamin Code Women||8.2||8|
|Spring Valley||Maximum One Dally||0.6||95|
|Swanson Premium||Women's Prime Multi||5.0||45|
|Swiss Natural Sources||Super Adult Chewable||3.4||69|
|Thompson||Human Nature Green Multi||3.0||71|
|Thorne Research||Al's Formula||4.8||50|
|TwinLab||Daily One Caps with Iron||6.7||23|
|FitMiss||Balance Women's Multi-Vitamin||7.7||12|
|USANA Health Sciences||HealthPak||8.9||4|
|Vitamin Power||Power Source 100||2.8||75|
|Source Naturals||Women's Life Force||8.1||9|
|Vitamin World||Daily 3 With Antioxidant Factors||4.7||52|
|Walgreens||Ultra Choice Premium Women||3.5||68|
|Western Family||Multra Forte||1.3||87|
|Xtend-Life Natural Products||Total Balance Women's||9.6||1|
|YourLife||Super Multi with Herbs||0.9||92|
|ZonePerfect||Multi Vitamin & Mineral||2.6||80|
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Best Vitamins and Minerals for Women
Just as a woman’s body changes during her life span, so does her nutritional needs. If you are a 50-year-old woman who uses the same multivitamin as your husband or you take the same supplement you did when you were in your twenties, then you are at risk for a variety of different health problems. By taking time to learn about the essential vitamins and minerals for women, and how women’s nutritional needs change as she ages, you can ensure that you, or the women your love, maintain optimal health throughout their lives.
The eight best vitamins and minerals for women
Regardless of your age, here are the eight most essential vitamins and minerals a woman needs in order to stay healthy:
The primary function of iron is to carry oxygen throughout your body. Additionally, your body needs iron to make red blood cells, for optimal immune functioning, and for temperature regulation. During a woman’s childbearing years, she needs 18 mg of iron daily, while after menopause, she needs only 8mg/day.1 The reason for the difference is that women who are menstruating lose a significant amount of iron-rich blood each month.
Women whose diets are deficient in iron are at risk of anemia. Some of the symptoms of anemia include shortness of breath, even with only mild exertion, fatigue, and difficulty regulating body temperature. Some dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and lean red meats are good sources of iron.
Calcium is especially important for women since they are at significant risk of osteoporosis after menopause. Since bone loss in women actually starts when they are in their twenties, it is important for all women of all ages to ensure they get 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium daily, either in their diet or by taking supplements. Calcium is also essential for muscle and blood vessel functioning, hormone synthesis, and transmission of messages through your nervous system.2
Magnesium plays a part in more than 300 biochemical processes in your body. Because of that a woman’s health depends on ensuring she has enough of this nutrient on a daily basis. Adult women need 310 to 320 mg of magnesium daily in order to avoid heart arrhythmias, immune system problems, bone fragility, and blood pressure irregularities.2 Additionally, women who are deficient in magnesium are at risk for migraine headaches.
Women need at least 2333IU of vitamin A for healthy eyes and immune functioning. If she does not get enough vitamin A through supplements, a woman is at risk of macular degeneration, measles, and some forms of cancer. Foods such as beef liver, sweet potatoes, and spinach are rich sources of vitamin A.3
Folate (vitamin B9)
This nutrient is one of the B vitamins women need to maintain a healthy nervous system as it supports the brain’s ability to regulate emotions. During pregnancy, folate is critical to prevent neural tube defects in the unborn child. While women who are not carrying a child require 400 mcg of folic acid per day, those who are pregnant need 600 mcg to 1 mg of this B vitamin daily. Women who do not have enough of this nutrient in their systems are at risk of anemia and certain types of cancers.4 Dietary sources of folate include beans and dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale.
Biotin (vitamin B7)
Your body uses biotin to make fatty acids and blood glucose. Additionally, it also plays a role in energy production. Women who do not get the recommended daily allowance of 30 µg of biotin are at risk of depression, as well as hair loss and brittle nails.5
Vitamin C is especially important for women because of its role in facilitating iron absorption. It also helps make collagen, which provides the structure to our skin. This vitamin also helps in repairing tissues in our body as well as supporting immune health. Since our bodies are not able make vitamin C, we need to get it through our diet or by taking supplements. Women need at least 75 mg of this nutrient each day.
Women need to ensure they have enough vitamin D because of its role in calcium absorption for healthy bones. In addition, this nutrient is essential for immune health, optimal nervous system functioning, and research indicates in may play a role in preventing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as some forms of cancer.6
How women’s vitamin supplementation needs change with ageAs you might suspect, age plays an important role the nutritional needs of women. Below we cover how your vitamin and mineral supplementation needs change in each of the life stages women go through:
A teenage girl’s nutritional needs are different from those of an adult woman because she is still growing and maturing. For example, a teenage girl needs less vitamin K, B6, iron, chromium, and manganese than she will need as an adult. On the other hand, the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is higher for teenage girls (360mg) than it is for adult women (310-320 mg) because this nutrient is shown to decrease the severity of PMS symptoms.7 In addition, adolescent girls need more phosphorus (1250 mg) as compared to adult females (750 mg) because this mineral is essential for fully developing their growing bone mass and brain function.8
Pregnant and breastfeeding
As you would expect, a woman’s nutritional requirements change significantly when she is carrying a child and when she is breastfeeding. The following chart outlines the different vitamins and mineral needs that increase during pregnancy and lactation.
Table 2: Supplementation needs during pregnancy and lactation
*Same as adult women
While most of these nutrients are needed for the healthy growth and development of the fetus and young infant, women could harm themselves if their diets do not contain sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals. The reason is that their bodies divert these nutrients to the developing child, which means the woman runs the risk of a multitude of ailments due to deficiencies in these micronutrients.
After menopause, women's needs change yet again. At this stage of their lives, they need more calcium and vitamin D to decrease their risk of bone loss. They also need less sodium and chloride in their diet to reduce their chances of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Herbal extracts for female health support
Recently these have been a lot of concerns about the increased risk of cancer associated with hormonal and pharmaceutical treatments used for the relief of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. Because of that, women need to consider using herbal remedies that research has shown to be safe yet effective.
Some examples of herbal supplements scientists have found to help in relieving the pain, bloating, and cramping associated with PMS include:
Scientists have found that a compound in Feverfew extract (Tanacetum parthenium leaf) reduces the inflammation that causes much of the discomfort associated with PMS. It also alleviates some of the headaches that occur before and during a woman’s monthly cycle.9
Chaste berry extract
Native to Asia and areas on the Mediterranean coast, the small peppermint scented berries of the chaste berry plant (Vitex agnus-castus berry) have been used since the 1950s for the treatment of the breast tenderness that often accompanies other PMS symptoms. Recent studies have found it to be effective in treating menstrual cycle irregularities, such as heavy bleeding, as well as the irritability, depression, and headaches that occur just before a woman’s monthly period.10
Herbal supplements useful for the treatment of the symptoms related to menopause include:
Dong Quai extract
Dong Quai extract (Angelica sinensis root) has been used for more than 1000 years to treat menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.11 It is also used to treat PMS symptoms such as cramping and headaches.12 Scientists attribute the effectiveness of Dong Quai extract to its ability to balance a woman’s estrogen levels.
Black Cohosh (Cimifuga racemosa) has undergone numerous clinical trials that show it is a safe and effective alternative to hormone replacement therapy.13
By paying attention to their nutritional needs through their lifespan and taking advantage of the different herbal remedies available, women can stay healthy and enjoy a heightened sense of well-being. Some of the high quality multivitamins we've come accross, that are designed specifically for women, contain these herbal extracts, so be sure to look out for them when shopping for your next multivitamin.
1 Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Anemia fact sheet
2 Women's Health Magazine Supplement your diet. The complete guide to essential nutrients.
3 Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health Vitamin A Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
4 Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health Folate Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet
5 MedlinePlus by the U.S. National Library of Medicine Biotin fact sheet
6 Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
7 Mineral Resources International Magnesium, The Forgotten Mineral
8 SFGate Do Teens Have Different Nutritional Needs Than Adults?
9 Yale University Bulletin & Calendar Roundup of recent health-related discoveries
10 New York University Medical Center Chasteberry fact sheet
11 University of Meriland Medical Center Dong quai fact sheet
12 Drugs.com Dong Quai fact sheet
13 National Center for Biotechnology Information Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms
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