Many people think of vitamins solely as a method of staying healthy.
However, several major areas of your life, such as your physical appearance, mental health, and overall emotional well-being, are also profoundly impacted by adequate vitamin consumption.
If you’re a woman who’s looking for a multivitamin that’s specifically tailored to your health needs and lifestyle preferences, then this article is for you!
Here you will discover why should women take multivitamins and which vitamins women need the most. We’ll break down the best multivitamins by age group and specific health needs.
We’ll also cover the dietary needs of women and what you should look for in a multivitamin in order to fill in the nutritional gaps within your diet.
Let’s dive right in!
TL; DR: What You Need to Know
- Vitamin A and E might help improve your skin and protect it against UV light and acne.
- Vitamin D, K, magnesium, and zinc are the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies worldwide.
- People on restrictive diets like vegans are also at an increased risk of vitamin B12, iron, and calcium deficiency.
- Pregnant women need extra vitamin B9 (folic acid), iodine, and iron. Vitamin A should be avoided by pregnant women.
If you’d rather just see our suggestions, then check out the comparison table below which is a nice summary of our findings. Otherwise, you should keep reading to discover how we researched our information and what you should look for or avoid when choosing a multivitamin for women.
Best Multivitamins by Needs
Essential for Teens
Essential for Women 18+
Essential for Women 50+
Beli for Women
Why Should Women Take Multivitamins?
Vitamins are essential nutrients that you need to consume with your diet, or you risk deficiencies and health problems.
Unfortunately, it is hard for most women to achieve adequate quantities of some nutrients with diet alone, such as vitamin D, vitamin K, Magnesium, and Zinc.
For example, studies show that almost 50% of the world’s population is deficient in vitamin D. It is so common that some scientists are calling it a “pandemic”.
That is mainly because the only good natural dietary sources we have are fatty fish and egg yolks. However, they are far from popular foods in our typical diets.
Furthermore, you can get enough vitamin D via exposure to the sun, but winter seasons and sedentary lifestyles make this option hard as well.
Vitamin K is another vitamin that you likely need more of. Unless you are eating 2 avocados or 3 cups of blueberries daily, you probably need to supplement. Your gut microbiota also produces some amount of vitamin K but they are generally insufficient alone.
If you are vegan, this also increases the risk of vitamin B12, Iron, and Calcium deficiency. The reason is that vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods. Calcium and Iron can be found in many vegetables but usually, their availability is poor when compared to animal products.
What Vitamins Should Women Take?
Health Benefits of Vitamin A
Do you have skin problems? This vitamin is sometimes called the beauty vitamin for a reason. According to research, it might have a skin protective effect from UV light.
Recent research suggests it might also help with acne treatment.
Vitamins A refers to a whole group of compounds called retinols. They have a role in normal eyesight, skin health, bone health, and immune function.
Vitamin A is contained in animal sources, while plant sources contain the pro-vitamins called carotenoids which are also antioxidants. Adult women need about 700 micrograms of retinol, while these requirements are doubled in breastfeeding women.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin so having some fat in your meals enhances its absorption. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin A is 3 000 micrograms, while there is no such limit for carotenoids.
Retinols (vitamin A from animal sources such as liver) but not carotenoids should be avoided during pregnancy as they can lead to malformations in the baby.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is well known for being related to anemia, but the vitamin is also involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body. Maximum benefits are achieved at 4 micrograms per day of vitamin B12.
Most animal products are good sources of B12 vitamin but vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of a deficiency. Normally you should have about 2 500 micrograms of it in your liver, so if you go vegan it will take years to develop a deficiency.
However, once developed, you will need injections to treat it.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9 (folate) is essential for rapid cell division and growth. That’s why it is especially important during pregnancy for the normal development of the baby.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is the most deficient vitamin worldwide. It affects immunity, bone health, muscle strength, mental health, and even cancer risk.
A meta-analysis of multiple studies suggests that vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency (levels under 50 nmol/l or 20 ng/dl) can reduce your life expectancy.
Almost everyone living in Northern countries can benefit from supplementation with this vitamin since there is little of it in food. You should supplement with about 2000 IU (50 mcg) of vitamin D per day.
If you are planning a pregnancy or pregnant in the first trimester, vitamin D can also reduce your risks of preeclampsia – a dangerous condition for pregnant women. According to research, the prescription of vitamin D supplements in the first trimester of pregnancy contributes to risk prevention.
Health Benefits of Vitamin E
This one is a group of compounds that act as antioxidants. They are important for stabilizing and protecting the membranes of cells, especially the ones of your skin. Studies suggest that UV exposure depletes the levels of vitamin E in your skin, so supplementation might be able to provide benefits.
The recommended daily amount is 15mg, which increases up to 20mg during lactation.
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
This vitamin is essential for normal blood coagulation and bone health. There are two main forms – vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). Generally, supplementing with vitamin K2 is shown to have better health benefits. Women need around 90 micrograms per day.
What Affects Women’s Dietary Needs?
The main factor that affects your dietary needs is your lifestyle. This includes your dietary habits and physical activity levels.
If you are following a diet that restricts meat, eggs, or dairy products, you might need to supplement with vitamin B12, calcium, and iron.
If you are trying to lose weight and you are following a highly restrictive diet with very low caloric intake, you might need to supplement with vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. Studies have shown that these are the most common deficiencies amongst women on highly restrictive diets such as bodybuilders.
More physiological states that generally increase your dietary needs are pregnancy and breastfeeding. Folic acid (vitamin B9) is extremely important for reducing the risk of birth defects and the prevention of the condition called spina bifida. The latter occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.
Vitamin A from animal sources (retinol) is to be avoided as it can increase the risk for malformation in the unborn fetus.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, you also need extra iodine, iron, and zinc. Iodine is essential for the proper brain development of the fetus and the newborn. If you are not using iodized salt, you should almost certainly supplement it.
How Did We Research the Best Multivitamins for Women?
You can spend hours searching on the internet and you will find a ton of products that claim to be backed up by science. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
As a medical doctor, I independently research ALL the scientific literature to base our recommendations entirely on unbiased evidence.
We have researched and selected:
- The most common vitamin deficiencies in women
- Specific vitamin and mineral needs for women of all ages
- Vitamins and mineral requirements for pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Vitamin and mineral formulations with the best absorption
- Only high-quality products with optimal dosage
What Should Women Look for in a Multivitamin?
If you have decided to pick a multivitamin on your own, there are a few things to look out for. First of all, it is better to avoid large multivitamin stacks. Certain vitamin combinations such as vitamin A plus vitamins E and K can lead to interactions.
Excess vitamin A intake interferes with vitamin K absorption. High β-carotene intake may decrease plasma vitamin E concentrations.
Vitamin E is actually a combination of 8 compounds that your body needs. Unfortunately, many cheap supplements contain only alpha-tocopherol, and over-supplementation with it alone can suppress the others, leading to a deficiency and an imbalance in your organism. In such cases, a multivitamin can bring more problems than it solves.
A great combination to have is magnesium plus vitamin D. Magnesium’s absorption is enhanced by the presence of this vitamin. Besides, both vitamins require a meal that is low in fiber and contain an adequate amount of fat, to be absorbed properly.
If the multivitamin with magnesium also contains calcium, iron, and zinc, make sure that their total amount is less than 800 mg. These minerals use the same transport receptors so if one is in excess, it will suppress the absorption of the rest.
What are the Best Supplements for Women?
Along with taking a daily multivitamin, there are several other supplements women should consider taking to improve their overall health. Some of the best supplements that aid overall health in women in addition to multivitamins include probiotics, superfood powders, and protein powder.
It is quite hard to cover some vitamins and mineral needs with a diet alone. This is why supplementation is strongly advised for nutrients such as vitamin D, K, magnesium, zinc, etc.
Some conditions and lifestyle choices also require extra iron, calcium, B9, or B12 intake via a supplement.
However, when choosing a multivitamin, ingredients are not the only factor. The products need to have good bioavailability and optimal dosage, to maximize their health benefits. Below is a summary of our recommendations.