The Best Multivitamins for Women

See Comparison of 100 Multivitamin Brands Designed for Women


Best Multivitamins for WomenYou 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.

For best results, using a multivitamin product with a score of 8.0 or above is strongly advised.

Table 1: Effectiveness scores and ranking of the most popular multivitamin brands

CompanyProductEffectivenessRank
21st CenturyOne Daily Women's0.794
4LifeBioVitamins Type III4.555
Absolute NutritionDieters' Multi's2.777
Action LabsEssential Nutrients0.5100
Advanced Physician's ProductsMaximum MultiVitamin/Mineral5.834
amniAdded Protection III7.017
AtkinsBasic #34.751
AvonVitAdvance Women's Complete Multivitamin1.288
Bronson LaboratoriesThe Woman's Formula4.556
CentrumSilver4.654
Colgan InstituteFormula MCS6.426
Country LifeMaxine4.458
DaVinci LaboratoriesSpectra Woman6.821
Doctor's NutritionMega Vites Woman6.820
Douglas LaboratoriesUltra Preventive X9.33
Dr. Julian Whitaker'sForward Multi-Nutrient7.614
EASMulti-Blend6.329
EcoNugenicsWomen's Longevity Rhythms Gold5.835
EquateOne Daily0.699
Essentials by MegafoodEssentials for Life5.243
FloraMultiCaps1.289
FoodScience of VermontSuperior Care6.624
Freeda VitaminsUltra Freeda 2.779
MetagenicsWellness Essentials Women's Prime 8.56
Garry Null'sSupreme Health Formula4.849
GeritolComplete0.4101
GNCGNC Women's Ultra Mega6.919
Good Neighbor PharmacyBalanced Care Complete Multi0.697
Great EarthTNT - Total Nutrition Tablet5.047
Greens+Multi+3.963
HerbalifeFormula 2 MultivitaminComplex5.340
JamiesonSuper Vita-Vim3.767
JarrowMulti E-Z Powder5.046
Jean Carper'sStop Aging Now!6.032
KALMultiple Energy5.242
KarunaMaxxum 47.910
Kirkland Signature (Costco)Daily Multi1.984
KrogerAdvanced Formula Complete0.698
Life BrandOptimum0.696
Life ExtensionLife Extension Mix8.75
LifestylesLifecycles for Women1.686
MannatechPhytoMatrix6.230
MatolMatolife4.162
MelaleucaVitality Pak5.339
New ChapterEvery Woman's One Daily7.215
Michael's Naturopathic Programsfor Women3.864
Mountain Naturals of VermontSuperior Care7.116
NatrolMy Favorite Multiple Original3.865
Natural FactorsMultiStart Women's5.933
Nature MadeMulti Complete4.359
Nature's BlendVitaminix Ultimate5.637
Nature's BountyGreen Source Vegetarian Formula4.161
Nature's PlusUitra One2.083
Nature's SunshineSuper Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals2.778
Nature's WayAlive! Whole Food Energizer6.131
NikkenKenzen Mega Daily 44.948
NOW FoodsMultiple Vitamins - LiquidGels6.428
Nu-lifeUltimate One for Women3.766
Nutrilite (Amway, Quixtar)Double X8.37
Nutrition DynamicsOptimum Health Essentials6.822
One A DayEssential4.557
OptimoxAndrovite for Women5.144
Perfect ChoiceMultivitamin Specially Formulated for Women2.973
Pharmanex (Nu Skin)LifePak Prime5.438
PhytoPharmicaClinical Nutrients for Women4.753
Pilgrim'sSilver Stars Multi2.776
Puritan's PrideWomen's One Daily Multivitamin6.525
Purity ProductsPerfect Multi Focus Formula7.018
QCI NutritionalsUltra Vitality #15.241
QuestMaximum Once A Day4.260
Rainbow LightAdvanced Nutritional System6.427
RelivClassic1.190
Ripple CreekMega-100 (Slow Release)3.370
Rite AidWhole Source0.893
Safeway SelectSuper Women's Multivitamin2.972
SchiffSingle Day2.482
ShakleeVitalizer Women9.42
SisuOnly One2.581
SolaraySpectro Multi-Vita-Min5.836
SolgarOmnium7.811
Garden of LifeVitamin Code Women8.28
Optimum NutritionOpti-Women7.613
Spring ValleyMaximum One Dally0.695
SundownComplete Ultra0.991
SunkistMulti-Women's1.785
Swanson PremiumWomen's Prime Multi5.045
Swiss Natural SourcesSuper Adult Chewable3.469
ThompsonHuman Nature Green Multi3.071
Thorne ResearchAl's Formula4.850
TwinLabDaily One Caps with Iron6.723
FitMissBalance Women's Multi-Vitamin7.712
USANA Health SciencesHealthPak8.94
Vitamin PowerPower Source 1002.875
Source NaturalsWomen's Life Force8.19
Vitamin WorldDaily 3 With Antioxidant Factors4.752
WalgreensUltra Choice Premium Women3.568
WatkinsSuperfood Multiple2.874
Western FamilyMultra Forte1.387
Xtend-Life Natural ProductsTotal Balance Women's9.61
YourLifeSuper Multi with Herbs0.992
ZonePerfectMulti Vitamin & Mineral2.680

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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:

Iron

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

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

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.

Vitamin A

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

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.

Vitamin D

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 age

As 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:

Teenage years

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

Nutrient Unit Pregnancy Breastfeeding
Vitamin A µg 770 1300
Vitamin C mg 85 120
Thiamin mg 1.4 1.4
Riboflavin mg 1.4 1.4
Niacin mg 18 17
Vitamin B6 mg 1.9 2
Folate µg 600 500
Vitamin B12 µg 2.6 2.8
Pantothenic Acid mg 6 7
Biotin µg 30* 35
Chromium µg 30 45
Copper µg 1000 1300
Iron mg 27 9
Magnesium mg 350 310

*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.

Post-menopausal years

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:

Feverfew extract

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

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.

References:

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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