Research shows women experience at least one type of nutritional deficiency. While we sure can get some (or even most) of the nutrients through a healthy and wholesome diet, there are certain factors out of our reach. Like, say, you can’t control the production of fruits and veggies, and neither can you control what chemicals go into the crop. Which is why multivitamins could be a healthy way to supplement your diet and make up for your nutritional deficiencies.
The logic is simple. There are 13 vitamins all women must take (in addition to certain minerals and fatty acids) (1). If your diet doesn’t provide you with one or more of these, that’s a problem. One study conducted by the Serbian Medical School tells us that a whopping 75% of women can develop nutritional deficiencies if they never took multivitamin supplements (2).Problem.
In this post, we’ll discuss everything about women’s nutrition, the top (and reliable) supplement brands you can consider, and how multivitamins benefit you in the first place. Keep reading. Because this is about you, dear women.
Table Of Contents
- What Does A Multivitamin Supplement Do To You?
- What Are The Nutrients Women Need?
- What Are The Top Multivitamin Brands?
- Who Should Take A Multivitamin?
- What Are The Benefits Of Multivitamins For Women?
- When A Healthy Diet May Not Be Enough
- How To Choose A High-Quality Multivitamin
What Does A Multivitamin Supplement Do To You?
According to the World Health Organization, one must consume at least 5 servings of a combination of fruits and vegetables every single day (3). And as per the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the following counts as one single serving of fruits and vegetables (4).
|1 cup of raw leafy vegetables|
|1/2 cup of other vegetables cooked or raw|
|3/4 cup of vegetable juice|
|1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear|
|1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit|
|3/4 cup of fruit juice|
Though more recent studies suggest we have 10 servings a day, we guess you got the point. In our fast-paced lives, having the required servings of fruits and veggies regularly is far from practical. Hence, the rising amount of deficiencies, especially in adult women. Studies have shown women are more likely to be nutritionally deficient than men, a couple of factors for that being menstruation and pregnancy (5). Which is why women need to take a look at multivitamins, probably more seriously today than ever before.
A multivitamin bridges the nutritional gap and ensures we are getting the required nutrients on a daily basis. But what are these nutrients that women need?
What Are The Nutrients Women Need?
The following table lists the most essential nutrients for women, along with their benefits and RDA.
|Vitamin A||Boosts vision and skin health||5,000 International Units (IU)|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||Helps the body metabolize fat and generate energy||1.5 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||Protects the body’s cells from free radicals||1.7 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||Cuts heart disease risk||20 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||Promotes hormone production and immunity||10 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||Helps produce myelin, a protective layer around cells||2 mg|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||Boosts metabolism and health of the skin, hair, and nails||300 µg (micrograms)|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||Promotes nervous system health (especially of the baby), and is important during pregnancy||400 µg|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||Enhances production of red blood cells||6 µg|
|Vitamin C||Aids growth and repair of body tissues||60 mg|
|Vitamin D||Promotes calcium absorption for stronger bones||400 IU|
|Vitamin E||Fights free radicals and boosts immunity||30 IU|
|Vitamin K||Helps blood clot (to prevent excessive bleeding) and keeps the heart and bones strong||80 µg|
|Choline||Crucial for nerve and liver function||400 mg|
|Iron||Essential for the production of hemoglobin and prevention of anemia||18 mg|
|Iodine||Promotes thyroid health and pregnant health (for the brain health of the growing fetus)||150 µg and 220 µg for pregnant women|
|Magnesium||Promotes over 300 biochemical functions in the body||320 mg|
|Calcium||Promotes bone health and helps prevent diabetes||1,200 mg|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||Fight inflammation and boost brain health||500 mg of EPA and DHA|
Those are the most essential nutrients women need on a daily basis. Multivitamins also contain other ingredients like cellulose and rice bran. Anyway, we now move on to the top brands. There are hundreds of brands that manufacture and sell multivitamin supplements – so which one should you go for? Is there anything like a complete multivitamin? What do the ratings and reviews say?
What Are The Top Multivitamin Brands?
Clinically studied and improvised with scientific formulations, Healthkart Multivit Gold contains the natural extracts of ginseng and gingko biloba, along with omega-3 (EPA and DHA). It also contains antioxidants (lutein and other bioflavonoids) and essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, this might come close to being a complete multivitamin.
The combination of antioxidants and omega-3s provides women with a powerful punch of vital nutrients.
Nature Made is quite known for its organic ingredients, and this supplement claims to contain no artificial flavors or colors or preservatives.
Gluten and yeast-free, which makes it a viable option for anyone who has Celiac disease or yeast infections.
The tablets are a little big, and swallowing them might be a problem for some.
Revital Woman is a balanced combination of 12 vitamins and 18 minerals, along with ginseng. This multivitamin fights weakness in women and also keeps your hair and skin healthy.
It contains adequate amounts of selenium, which is especially important for women.
This multivitamin contains three superfruits – pomegranate, acai, and mangosteen. These fruits boost immunity in women and also offer high-quality B and C vitamins. It also contains iron, which can be particularly beneficial for women as they have higher iron needs.
It is both vegan and vegetarian.
The supplement contains higher levels of iron, and this might cause certain individuals to feel nauseous (especially if they have a history of feeling uncomfortable after taking supplements containing iron).
The vitamins and minerals in the supplement become more concentrated with the inclusion of fruit and vegetable powders.
Independent lab testing, which ensures the quality of the supplements. .
Each gummy has the power of CoQ10 and omega-3 fatty acids, which help improve cognition. For women, who are quite well known to multitask and easily take care of too many things at a time, these nutrients are indeed important.
The supplement is non-GMO.
The omega-3 fatty acid content is not adequate, which means you need to take more number of gummies to meet the need. You are better off taking an exclusive omega-3 supplement
This multivitamin scores quite well in purity rankings. It also contains caffeine and green tea extract, which means you will be getting a kick of caffeine regularly. Which is a big plus for busy women on the go.
The taste is quite good as they are gummies.
In case you have a history of reacting to niacin, you might experience itchy and inflamed skin
This supplement combines the goodness of vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants (along with ginseng) for overall health. It also helps boost the health of hair, skin, and nails.
It is particularly rich in biotin, which benefits the hair, skin, and nails.
The smell is not so pleasing.
This multivitamin includes 1,076 mg of a certified organic blend of fruits and vegetables – including acai, pomegranate, blueberry, spirulina, kale, broccoli, and beet.
It supports energy metabolism and fortifies the immune system.
Quite expensive when compared to other multivitamin brands.
This is primarily a whey protein supplement, but with a unique blend of 28 essential vitamins and minerals. It also contains Ayurvedic herbs like tulsi, shatavari, and ginger. The protein reduces muscle soreness, while the other nutrients improve overall health.
Tastes quite nice.
This supplement focuses on the seven major benefits for women – hence the name. The nutrients in the supplement help support women’s energy and vitality, skin health, hair and nail health, strong bones and muscles, memory, immunity, and vision.
Specifically targets the seven key areas of women’s health.
This multivitamin contains a powdered blend of 26 fruits and vegetables, including apple, tomato, and broccoli. It also contains boron, the trace mineral that helps improve muscle mass in women.
It is caffeine-free and contains no stimulants.
In this supplement, Optimum Nutrition has added some extra nutrients (like soy isoflavones) that are especially beneficial for women. The specially formulated Opti-Women supplement helps boost energy levels in women and keeps them active all day long
It contains 600 mcg of folic acid, which is particularly beneficial for women.
The smell may not be pleasant.
This multivitamin is probiotic and whole. However, there are some issues with the quality.
Takes a naturally produced nutrient approach.
Quality is not exceptional, though it is improving. The price could also be a downside.
The multivitamin offers everything except for the standard doses of B vitamins, which comes in a separate packaging. But otherwise, this one can be a good way to meet women’s growing nutritional needs.
The mineral ingredients are present as chelates (and not organic salts), which get better absorbed by the body.
Might cause breakouts in certain people.
Where MegaFood stands out is how the nutrients are isolated from specially bred strains of brewer’s yeast. This way, the nutrients are procured from a natural process.
Easily absorbed by the body.
The content on the label isn’t always the same as the one in the multivitamin.
This is a combination of 21 nutrients that boost your health in addition to strengthening the hair, skin, and nails.
Biotin and grape seed extract offer additional protection to the body, and hair, skin, and nails.
This brand offers a bare-minimum supplement. Also, the nutrients are derived from a less expensive and more efficient industrial process. This ensures the quality is maintained and promotes women’s overall health.
The additional presence of artificial coloring agents.
The B vitamins in the multivitamin enhance physical energy, while vitamins A, C, and E fight free radicals and boost immunity. These properties can especially be beneficial for women who spend most of their time outdoors, often working in polluted environments.
The price is affordable.
Inlife multivitamin contains 22 essential nutrients in an advanced formula. It helps energize you without having to take caffeine or sugar.
The tablets have a smooth coating, making them easier to swallow. Also, the lessened need for sugar can be further beneficial for women.
That’s the long list of the top multivitamin brands in the market. But do you need a multivitamin supplement? How can you know?
Who Should Take A Multivitamin?
Several factors determine a woman’s nutritional intake. Certain factors even increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies in women. They are:
- Following highly processed diets
- Being a vegan or a vegetarian
- Being of reproductive age (including pregnancy)
- Being underweight
- Being over the age of 65
- Belonging to a lower socioeconomic status (lack of education, poverty)
These factors are another reason women need to consider taking multivitamins. Most multivitamins can usually be taken at the start of the day, with a meal
But what are the specific benefits do multivitamins offer for women? Yes, we are getting there in a moment.
What Are The Benefits Of Multivitamins For Women?
1. Multivitamins Enhance Workouts
Studies show how multivitamins can enhance workouts and even help athletes. This especially holds true if the individual doesn’t have the time to consume 5 to 7 servings of fresh fruits and veggies.
One such study shows that vitamin deficiency can impair physical performance. And if the deficiency is corrected, the performance improves (6). For women hitting the gym or participating in aerobics on a regular basis, this can be good news. .
Vitamins E, C, B6 and B12 enhance the performance of runners as well. This means that taking multivitamins can work for athletes, especially those involved in running (as the activity requires antioxidants due to the production of oxidative stress). Another important mineral is magnesium, which enhances workouts over a period by boosting bone health. Magnesium works in tandem with calcium and prevents osteoporosis. Deficiencies of these essential nutrients, along with vitamin K, can often lead to bone issues. So, if you are involved in bodybuilding, ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin K (in addition to other nutrients).
The omega-3 fatty acids in certain multivitamins can enhance heart health too, and this can be an added advantage to anyone who is working out. And even the iodine in multivitamins helps improve the metabolic rate.
2. Help Treat Diabetes
There is research that states how multivitamin supplementation can benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes, more so if they are following a weight loss diet.
For instance, diabetics tend to have lower levels of vitamin C as higher blood glucose levels can impair vitamin C uptake. Vitamin E protects the heart, eyes, and kidneys from damage, which are common complications during diabetes.
Some preliminary studies also suggest that frequent intake of vitamin C or calcium supplements might cut the risk of diabetes (7). However, more research is warranted.
And there is another body of research that supports the efficiency of magnesium in aiding diabetes treatment. Magnesium also promotes heart health, and this reduces further complications during diabetes. And talking about heart health, even vitamin K has an important role to play.
3. Help Combat Anemia And Resultant Fatigue
Vitamin deficiency anemia is quite common in women. Low levels of vitamins C, B12, and folate can lead to this condition. Another cause of anemia can be the deficiency of iron. If you think you aren’t getting enough of the required vitamins through the food you eat, it is time you considered taking a multivitamin (8).
Other research also tells us how dietary oral supplementation with folic acid and iron can reduce the risk of anemia – especially in the case of women, before pregnancy (9).
Deficiencies of folic acid and iron can cause complications in women, more so during pregnancy. And the same can be said about iodine deficiency. During pregnancy, this can hurt the health of the baby.
Even otherwise, nutrients like iron and folic acid are particularly important for women. Which is another reason multivitamins can do women a lot good. And then, there is iodine, which is known to boost energy levels as well.
4. Fight Depression
B vitamins are known to be particularly beneficial for brain health. More specifically, vitamins B12 and B6 aid depression treatment. Research has revealed that a combination of vitamin B12 and folic acid can aid depression treatment (10). Most multivitamins contain sufficient amounts of B vitamins and can hence help fight depression.
Multivitamins also contain iodine that can aid depression treatment.
5. Are Beneficial During Pregnancy
As per a report published in The Irish Times, taking multivitamins during early pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of autism in the newborn (11). The most important nutrients during pregnancy include folic acid and vitamin D. These vitamins (espeically folic acid) also help prevent neural tube birth defects in infants (12).
6. Boost Eye Health
Studies show that individuals taking multivitamins with vitamins C and E had 60 percent lesser risk of developing cataracts (13). Other essential nutrients for eye health include lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, and zinc – all of which can be available in a high-quality multivitamin supplement. You can also take separate omega-3 supplements as they help combat the effects of aging on the eyes.
Research has also shown that individuals at a risk or suffering from age-related macular degeneration are more likely to benefit from multivitamin supplements (14).This is because deficiencies of important antioxidants like lutein and vitamin C can harm the eyes, and taking a multivitamin can help bridge the gap.
7. Multivitamins Can Ease Joint Pains Too
Vitamin C can help fight inflammation, and this nutrient in a multivitamin can be a good addition to one’s diet. Other supplements that help ease joint pains include glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids (15).
We can’t stress enough on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids, as per scores of research, help deal with all kinds of inflammation within the body – particularly that of the joints. We already saw how vitamin K could benefit the bones – adequate levels of this vitamin might also relieve achy joints.
8. Can Ease Menopause Symptoms
Some experts state that multivitamins are nutritional insurance. Hormonal shifts can lead to menopause symptoms, and this is where the essential vitamins and minerals come into the picture. And as the average diet often lacks certain essential nutrients, multivitamins can play an important role here – more so because menopause symptoms are sure a bothersome issue in women.
Also, post-menopausal women are more likely to have low levels of calcium. Since multivitamins often contain the required amounts of calcium, they sure can be a good idea during this time. And as per a report titled Nutrient News for Women Over 50 by Elizabeth Ward, menopause means a loss of estrogen (estrogen aids calcium absorption), which is another reason women in this period need multivitamins more than ever
Some of the nutrients that help in this case include vitamins A, B6, B12, D, and E. These can help ease the symptoms of low estrogen.
Magnesium is another important nutrient for relieving PMS symptoms. In studies, women supplemented with magnesium found relief from symptoms like cramps, irritability, and low mood.
9. Enhance Memory
There are certain vitamins a multivitamin offers that can enhance memory and even prevent associated issues. For example, strong evidence supports that vitamin B12 can slow down cognitive decline, more so in people with Alzheimer’s. The effects of B12 are further accentuated when taken along with omega-3 fatty acids (16).These acids are known to improve nerve health and even accelerate communication between neurons.
Vitamin K found in multivitamins was also found to enhance cognitive health. Studies show that it can improve episodic memory in adults
And then, we have vitamin E, which can also help treat Alzheimer’s (17).
10. Help Treat PCOS
It has been found that women with PCOS often also suffer from insulin resistance. And research reveals that certain types of vitamins, when taken in certain combinations, can help treat insulin resistance and induce ovulation in women with PCOS. A few such nutrients include folic acid, vitamin D, and inositol.
Studies also reveal that regular use of multivitamins, along with B vitamins, can cut the risk of ovulatory infertility (18).
11. Help Smokers
Certain vitamins can help smokers lead healthier lives. And one of them is vitamin C, which is the primary antioxidant in the body. Studies show that smokers have lower levels of vitamin C, and taking good amounts of the vitamin can help counter the harmful effects of smoking.
And then, we have vitamin E, another important nutrient in multivitamin supplements. Research shows how this vitamin can help reduce oxidative stress in smokers (19).
12. Can Treat Acne And Improve Skin Complexion
When it comes to treating acne and boosting skin health, multivitamin supplements have their way. The first among them is vitamin A – though the topical application of this vitamin is way more effective, taking it in the required amounts in the form of a multivitamin can also help.
Vitamin E might also help treat acne. In one study, individuals with acne were found to be deficient in vitamin E (20). And while vitamin C corrects age spots, vitamin E can moisturize the skin and improve complexion.
13. Can Boost Hair Growth
Nutrients like zinc, biotin, vitamin B5, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin D help boost hair growth. A high-quality multivitamin contains all of these nutrients, thereby improving your hair health. Even omega-3 fatty acids boost hair health, which is why you can take them as a separate supplement.
These are the ways a multivitamin supplement can make your life better. But what if you are already having a balanced diet and have no nutritional deficiencies?
Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to boost skin health. As most multivitamins contain these acids, it is important you take them. And we also spoke of lutein, an important antioxidant that boosts eye health. Studies show that lutein can also enhance skin health. It slows down the rate of oxidative stress and prevents skin cancer.
The iodine in multivitamins also helps enhance skin health. In fact, dry and flaky skin are some of the first signs of iodine deficiency.
When A Healthy Diet May Not Be Enough
You might think you are following a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies – but even then, there could be circumstances when you would have to take a multivitamin supplement:
- If you are a vegetarian or vegan, because you avoid meat, you might be low on B vitamins (which are only found in animal foods). And if you are vegan and don’t consume dairy products, you might also be missing out on calcium, iron, and amino acids. The same goes for omega-3 fats and zinc.
- If you are pregnant, your body requires the essential nutrients more than ever. Studies show that the growth and development of the fetus are strongly linked to the mother’s supply of essential nutrients.
- If you are over 55 years old, B vitamins, vitamin D, and calcium are crucial. Consuming plenty of natural greens, eggs, grass-fed meat, and even unsweetened dairy products, along with the required supplements, can cut the risk of heart problems, fractures, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and diabetes (21).
All great. Okay, so now, you are very aware of the importance of a multivitamin supplement. You are excited about the whole new expanse of knowledge you have been exposed to. Now, all you need to do is hop to the nearest store and grab the first multivitamin supplement that you see, right?
Wrong! In fact, that’s the wrongest thing one can do. There are hundreds of brands that make tens of claims. How do you evaluate them?
How To Choose A High-Quality Multivitamin
The best you can do is consult your health care practitioner (preferably a nutritionist, and not just any doctor). Doctors are trained to treat disease, nutritionists are trained to prevent them. And you don’t stop there. You also do your own thing. Here’s how:
- Do your research and ensure the multivitamin brand is reputable. Check if their claims are backed by research. Also, check if the company follows GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices).
- Check if the brand is listing both the active and inactive ingredients on its labels. Also, check if the label mentions any contraindications – if it does, the brand is reliable.
- Check for third-party testing logos on the products. Or even on their website. Some reputed testing organizations include NSF International, Consumer Labs, Natural Products Association, and Informed Choice.
- In case you are in Canada, ensure the product has a Natural Product Number (NPN). It is an eight-digit number and means the product has been approved by Health Canada and is safe for consumption.
- Check for the ingredients as well. Avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. The following table should give you an idea about some of the ideal ingredients.
|Poor quality, poor absorbablity||Choose instead|
|Calcium Carbonate||MCHA, Calcium Citrate|
|Magnesium Oxide||Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium (Bis)Glycinate|
|Zinc Oxide||Zinc (Bis)Glycinate, Zinc Picolinate|
|Folic Acid||Folate (L-5 MTHF)|
|Iron Sulphate||Iron Citrate, Iron (Bis)Glycinate|
You can also ask the following questions to your nutritionist:
- What research says about its benefits?
- How much you need to take?
- Should you take it is a powder or a pill or in a liquid form?
- Any side effects?
- Can you take it along with any other medications?
- Any considerations with respect to food?
- Should you stop it if you have any medical condition or are undergoing/have undergone surgery?
And finally, ensure the supplement contains the appropriate dosages that can benefit you. Consult your nutritionist if you are not very sure about this aspect.
Health is non-negotiable. When you spend hours researching before purchasing a new smartphone, why not apply the same practice for your health? Be aware. Stay healthy.
And tell us how this post has helped you. We want to hear from you. Simply leave a comment in the box below because your voice matters.
Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions
How long does a multivitamin take to work?
Supplements usually take 2 to 4 weeks to work before you can start seeing the results.
Do multivitamins cause any side effects?
If you take them as directed by your nutritionist (who knows your current state of health), you shouldn’t be facing any side effects.
Some less serious side effects can include an upset stomach, headache, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Contact your nutritionist if you experience any of these, or any other side effects.
Can you take a multivitamin on an empty stomach?
No. Doing so can cause side effects. The best time is with a meal, preferably in the day.
Can you take a multivitamin with coffee?
Not recommended. Taking your multivitamin with a cup of coffee or tea or any beverage (and big No with aerated drinks) may prevent all the nutrients from getting absorbed.
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