A multivitamin for women over 50 is formulated to address the changing nutritional needs of older women.
Multivitamins are particularly important for 50+ women because, as the body ages, it can lose the ability to absorb enough nutrients from food. Multivitamins can fill the resulting nutrient gaps.
With so many multivitamins on the market today, sifting through them all is no small task. But fear not. We’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Here are the best multivitamins for women over 50 of 2020.
1. Nature’s Way Alive! Women’s 50+ Multivitamin
Nature’s Way snags the number 1 spot on our list with their Alive! Women’s 50+ Multivitamin. There are a lot of things to like about this multi, including the digestive enzymes. There’s also cranberry extract that promotes urinary tract health.
What we like: We like the impressive array of vitamins and complementary minerals provided. We appreciate that they offer a wide variety of digestive enzymes. And that they don’t forget the importance of a healthy urinary tract. It’s also a plus that you get what you need in a single daily tablet.
Flaws: The pill is large. There’s no way around it. You might have to cut it in half to get it down.
2. One A Day Women’s 50+ Healthy Advantage
One-a-Day Women’s 50+ skips on the probiotics but goes all-in on the vitamins and minerals essential to an older woman’s health. That means lots of antioxidants, plenty of B vitamins to promote immune system health and cognitive function, and lots of vitamin D to activate calcium and strengthen bones.
What we like: This supplement emphasizes strengthening bones and keeping you mentally sharp. It also bolsters eye and skin health and strengthens the immune system. And it’s free of common allergens and fillers.
Flaws: If you have a sensitive stomach and take them without food, they may cause a bit of indigestion.
3. Centrum Silver Women’s 50+ Multivitamin
Centrum Silver has been around for decades and is likely the best-known brand of multis for older individuals. Their Women’s 50+ is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and D. It also provides plenty of B12 for mind and immune system support, and doesn’t forget the calcium and magnesium.
What we like: There’s plenty of vitamin D for bone health and antioxidant vitamins (A and E) to combat free radicals. Also, none of the vitamins or minerals here come from genetically modified organisms.
Flaws: Once again, the most common complaint is that they’re too big for their target demographic to swallow easily.
4. Rainbow Light – 50+ Mini-Tablet
This Mini-Tablet from Rainbow Light is not marketed as a women’s 50+ multi, but it fits the bill. There’s vitamin D along with calcium and magnesium. And the antioxidant vitamins so crucial to health later in life are also well represented. For good measure, they toss in a dose of probiotics.
What we like: Rainbow Light checks all the right vitamin and mineral boxes. They provide a generous supply of probiotics to encourage a healthy gut flora. That, in turn, aids digestion. These are highly pure, high-quality tablets completely free of GMOs and common food allergens.
Flaws: The tablets are not as small as the word ‘mini’ implies. Also, while generally effective, they’re not specifically formulated for women.
5. MegaFood, Multi for Women 55+
MegaFood sources all of their nutrients from whole, organic foods. They also avoid GMOs and common food allergens like gluten. What you get here are unadulterated nutrients in an easy to swallow capsule.
What we like: We like that they are made with real food and not just synthesized in the lab. We appreciate the generous amount of vitamin D, which helps metabolize calcium and strengthen bones. And that there’s no superfluous iron.
Flaws: Curious, although they contain vitamin D, they don’t provide any calcium for the vitamin D to activate. They’re also pretty expensive.
6. Enzymedica, Enzyme Nutrition Women’s 50+
Enzymedica emphasizes the role digestive enzymes play in overall health. But they don’t ignore the fact that, even with a healthy gut biota, older women can still use some supplemental help. So there’s plenty of vitamins A, C, D, and E.
What we like: We appreciate that the company emphasizes digestive health. Also, they don’t skimp on the important antioxidant vitamins or vitamin D, which is crucial for effective calcium absorption.
Flaws: They recommend you take 4 capsules a day. That’s a lot of big vitamin capsules to swallow.
7. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Multivitamin for Women
Garden of Life has a well-earned reputation for excellence that extends to all of their vitamin and mineral supplements. They take extra trouble to find reliable, non-GMO sources for their nutrients and never mess things up with artificial ingredients are allergens.
What we like: We like the blend of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotic cultures. We appreciate the large doses of vitamins A, C, D, and E. And there’s plenty of B12 to help keep you mentally sharp and aid in red blood cell production.
Flaws: A lot of women are going to balk at the price, especially older ladies on fixed incomes.
8. New Chapter Women’s Multivitamin
Some dieticians swear by fermented vitamins. And while the scientific jury is out on whether they are the be-all-end-all some consider them, there is little debate that they are effective and easy to digest. Both of those qualities make New Chapter Women’s Multivitamin a win-win.
What we like: We appreciate the generous dose of probiotics and that the vitamin load here is impressive, top to bottom. The fact that they’re fermented should (in theory anyway) make them easier on the stomach.
Flaws: They try to be all things to all women and in the process may end up giving some women stomach aches.
9. MultiFactors by Natural Factors
Natural Factors MultiFactors multivitamin is a well-rounded supplement that leaves no nutritional stone unturned. From antioxidants to calcium to vitamin B12 for your mind, this is a full-service multi in an easy to swallow capsule.
What we like: We like that they provide more than three dozen vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in every capsule. We’re glad to see the emphasis on antioxidants. And we appreciate that they don’t ignore digestive health.
Flaws: The probiotic component is relatively spare. Also, better hope you don’t have a problem because customer support can be an issue.
10. 21st Century Sentry Senior Women 50 Plus
21st Century Sentry Senior provides an impressive array of vitamins and minerals without any artificial ingredients or common contaminants. Their remarkable price point also makes them a smart choice for budget-conscious women.
What we like: We appreciate that they stack up well against better known (and more expensive) brand names. We like the healthy dose of calcium along with vitamin D to activate it. And what can we say about the price? Pretty amazing.
Flaws: Contains iron for some strange reason, but does not contain any probiotics to aid in digestion.
Do Women Over 50 Need Multivitamins?
There are a lot of conflicting opinions when it comes to multivitamins. If you care to look you’ll find plenty of research that indicates they don’t do anything (1). On the other, hand doctors continually prescribe various vitamins and minerals to their patients to tackle a range of problems, including anemia and osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition of particular concern for women over 50. And the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends taking calcium supplements to help fight it (2). So taking a multivitamin, multimineral supplement with calcium seems like the smart thing to do. At the same time calcium can’t do its job building and protecting your bones if you don’t get enough vitamin D (3). So any multivitamin supplement should also contain plenty of that vitamin.
So the answer to the question ‘Do women over 50 need multivitamins?’ is ‘yes’. There seems little doubt that some vitamins and minerals play an important role in maintaining health. Certainly, calcium and vitamin D as we just saw. But also magnesium and vitamin C. Magnesium because it helps maintain heart health and prevent diabetes, and vitamin C because it is a powerful antioxidant (4). And you can never have enough of those.
As far as other vitamins and minerals are concerned, they may very well help fill nutritional gaps in older women created by poor diet, illness, or even medications (5).
How We Ranked
It’s a given that multivitamins are not the answer to all the potential health problems a woman over 50 can or will encounter. Instead, their job is to supplement a woman’s diet, address nutritional shortfalls and, in some cases, address specific health threats. So when we look at multivitamins for women over 50, we want them to have the vitamins we mentioned above. We also want them to offer a host of other vitamins that are potentially helpful in filling nutrient gaps.
Also, we prefer if the multivitamins offer complementary minerals. As we mentioned, vitamin D and calcium work together. And so do vitamin B12 and folate (6). So if a supplement offers these kinds of complementary vitamin/mineral pairs, we like that. Magnesium is another mineral that’s important for older women. Especially postmenopausal women as it can help stave off bone loss and reduce inflammation.
Beyond the nutritional details, we chose producers with solid reputations, who produce their supplements in good manufacturing practices (GMP) facilities. We also prefer companies that understand the importance of accountability. Finally, we considered price because a lot of older women are on fixed incomes. That said, if a particular supplement seemed worthy of making a financial stretch, we included it too.
Multivitamins for women over 50 fill nutrient gaps caused by dieting. Young women are not the only ones who need to be concerned about their weight. It can be just as important for older ladies. In fact, research indicates that overweight women stand a significantly reduced chance of ever making it to 85 (7). So dieting is, in some very real respects, a life and death issue for older women. But dieting can create nutrient shortfalls (8) as foods are left off the plate that contained important vitamins and minerals. Multivitamin supplements can bridge these nutritional gaps, enabling an older woman to get on with the important business of controlling her weight.
Multivitamins for women over 50 bolster bone strength. Osteoporosis is a major health concern for older women. Estimates are that 8 million American women currently suffer from osteoporosis (9). And with the aging of the population, that number is only going to increase. One of the most compelling reasons to take a multivitamin supplement is to get the vitamin D or calcium (or preferably both) you need to help reduce the risk of developing this bone wasting condition. Magnesium also plays a role in bone health, besides helping to maintain healthy cells. And the importance of phosphorus should not be discounted either in this regard (10).
Multivitamins for women over 50 can enhance mental acuity. The brain is obviously central to life as we know it. And it’s also greatly affected by how we live, what we eat, how much we exercise, and how much we sleep. In addition, recent studies suggest vitamin supplementation can impact brain function. Studies have shown that older men exhibit improved memory after taking multivitamins (11). Other studies demonstrate that multivitamins may have a role to play in alleviating anxiety and stress in older women (12). The bottom line is that a growing body of evidence suggests multivitamins are good for the brain in numerous ways.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can mitigate the effects of aging. While vitamin supplements aren’t the fountain of youth, they can nonetheless play an important role in reducing some of the most odious effects of aging. These effects include weakened bones, rough skin, vision problems, dental problems, digestive problems, heart disease, and more. Many of these, as well as other maladies that affect older women, are the result of nutrient shortfalls. By taking a good multivitamin supplement you can correct those nutrient shortfalls and bolster your eyes, skin, teeth, bones, and more.
Multivitamins for women over 50 help prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Dieticians and researchers talk a lot about macronutrient deficiencies. But micronutrient deficiencies are just as important. Macronutrients include protein, fiber, fat, carbohydrates, and water. If you are not getting enough of them, you will undoubtedly suffer physically. Micronutrients, by contrast, are individual vitamins like B12. Not enough of that one microscopic micronutrient, and it could have wide-ranging adverse effects on your skeletal system. Women who adhere to vegetarian or vegan diets often find themselves suffering from micronutrient deficiencies (13) and could benefit mightily from a daily multivitamin supplement.
Multivitamins for women over 50 are cost-effective. Considering the many benefits that older women can derive from multivitamins, they can be considered a cost-effective way to maintain good dietary health. It’s always preferable that people, regardless of their age or sex, get the nutrients they need from their diet. But the reality is that high-quality foods are expensive these days. Multivitamins can be a cost-effective way to ensure older women on fixed incomes get the nutrients they need. And that they get them without causing undue strain on their bank account.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can help maintain eye health. We know that multivitamins can improve cognitive function and strengthen bones. But they can also help prevent age-related vision problems, including macular degeneration (14). In addition, a multivitamin supplement that includes vitamin E may help reduce the risk of cataracts (15). The bottom line is that, while multivitamins won’t improve your eyesight, they can make your eyes more resistant to these common but still vexing conditions.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can speed recovery from illness. Typically, when people are stricken with a cold or flu, they lose their appetite. That is understandable. But it also creates a situation where the body is not getting the nutrient support it needs, just when it needs it most. As a result, an older woman may not be able to fight off the cold as quickly, and recovery can lag. Multivitamin supplements for women over 50 can provide the nutrients necessary to power a faster, more complete recovery.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can enhance cardiovascular health. Earlier, we mentioned the preponderance of conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of multivitamins. And there are indeed plenty of scholarly papers floating around that state emphatically that multivitamins are a waste of money. At the same time though there are equally scholarly health studies (that’s ‘studies’, as in more than one) that conclude vitamin supplements can play an important role in bone integrity, eye health and, in this case, cardiovascular health (16)(17). So the smart thing to do seems to take the scholarly skepticism with a grain of salt and get yourself a good multivitamin.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can increase energy levels. It’s well known that iron can help boost energy levels by helping to create more and healthier oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Older women, however, should be wary of taking supplemental iron (18). But iron isn’t the only potential energy booster among the micronutrients. B-complex vitamins can also help get your energy levels up as can vitamin C. So, if you are feeling a bit underpowered lately, consider taking a good multivitamin and get your mojo back.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can improve digestive efficiency. We’ve touched on the fact that the body’s ability to process food declines with age. That’s a big deal because poor nutrient absorption can lead to all kinds of health problems. Some (not all) multivitamins for women over 50 include probiotics that re-establish a health gut biota. As a result – and somewhat ironically – these multivitamins can reduce the need to take multivitamins. Although if you stop taking them entirely, the gut biota will likely return to its less-than-optimal state.
Q: Why do women over 50 need multivitamins?
A: As women age their nutritional requirements change. The foods that provided bountiful nutrition at a younger age may now be coming up short. But like men, women are creatures of habit. This means getting them to alter their diet to address the new reality is not always easy. This is where multivitamins for women over 50 come in. A good multivitamin supplement will provide a balance of important nutrients formulated to address the specific requirements of older women. Those include a need for more vitamin D to ensure healthy bones and ward off osteoporosis.
Q: What minerals are important for a woman over 50?
A: Calcium is by far the most important mineral for women over 50. It helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis. For those with osteoporosis supplemental calcium can reduce the fragility of bones and thereby reduce the likelihood of a debilitating fracture (19). Magnesium deficiency raises the risk of type II diabetes, so supplemental magnesium is also a good idea. And collagen, while not a mineral (it’s actually a type of protein) is well known for its ability to help strengthen bones, reduce inflammation and of course, make for healthier skin (20).
Q: Should women over 50 take iron?
A: A lack of iron will induce anemia and all the problems that come with it (21). However, since postmenopausal women are no longer losing iron via menstruation, it’s often recommended that they reduce the amount of iron they consume. That’s because iron is not a benign substance. Too much iron can cause damage to the liver, result in hemochromatosis (22) and even promote the growth of cancerous tumors (23). As such most health professionals encourage older women to get adequate levels of iron from the foods they eat and to forego supplemental iron unless there is a compelling need.
Q: What are probiotics and should women’s vitamins include them?
A: Digestive health plays a key role in overall health and wellbeing (24). Its importance becomes even more acute as we age and our bodies tend to become less efficient at processing food. Probiotics (25) are bacteria that promote a healthy digestive tract. They break down and processes nutrients. The benefits of probiotics are many (26), and they are readily available in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and miso soup. However, not everyone is fond of those particular foods. Fortunately, that’s not a problem because there are many supplements today, including multivitamins for women over 50, that contain probiotics.
Q: Can anyone take multivitamins for women over 50?
A: Sure. But they won’t be as effective for men or young people. There are certainly plenty of vitamins (and sometimes minerals) in these supplements to provide a potential health benefit to just about anyone. But most are specifically formulated to address the micronutrient requirements of older women. Which, as we have seen, are different than those of men and young adults. Since osteoporosis affects four times as many women as it does men, men don’t need as much of the calcium that multivitamins for women over 50 typically provide. Same with younger people.
Q: What are isoflavones?
A: Some vitamin supplements for older women contain isoflavones (27). Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen common in soy-based food products and are sometimes used to augment hormone replacement therapy. For obvious reasons, men don’t require phytoestrogen. In fact they may want to stay clear of it and the soy it is derived from (28). So, while it’s likely most people could derive some benefit from taking multivitamins for women over 50, a better course of action is to find a multi more suited to your specific needs.
Q: What’s the best time of the day to take a multivitamin?
A: As is usually the case with dietary supplements, there is not really a ‘best’ time of the day to take multivitamins. The most important thing is to be consistent and take them every day as directed. The best way to ensure you don’t forget is to make them part of a particular daily routine. That might mean having one with your morning coffee or tea, having one with lunch, or making sure you have one with your evening meal. In some cases, the manufacturer will recommend taking two or more capsules per day. In that case, you may want to make taking a multivitamin part of your routine for each meal.
Q: Do multivitamins for women over 50 contain fiber?
A: In most cases multivitamins for women over 50 do not contain fiber. That’s not to say that fiber isn’t important for older women. It certainly is. But there’s a practical reason why fiber isn’t part of most multivitamins: it takes up lots of space. If fiber were added to multivitamins, it would make most of them the size of bottle caps. Either that or you might have to take half a dozen capsules just to get the fiber you need. So while fiber is important, it’s best if it comes from a separate, preferably dietary source, rather than from your multivitamin supplement.
Q: Are ‘expired’ multivitamins bad for you?
A: People often see the ‘expiration’ date on a bottle of vitamins and think it has some sort of scientific basis. The fact is the FDA does not require manufacturers to put an expiration date on their vitamins (29). Most companies do so simply to get people to buy more vitamins. The only possible objective danger posed by old vitamins past their ‘use by’ or ‘expiration’ date is the presence of mold.
Q: How do vitamins get moldy?
A: Vitamins get moldy by being stored in warm, damp conditions. This can promote the growth of mold on the capsules. In most cases, ingesting some mold won’t cause any problems. But if your immune system is in a weakened state, as is often the case with older individuals, mold may cause you to experience diarrhea or vomiting (30). The important thing is not to let the multivitamins sit around long enough to get moldy. Take them every day as directed.
Q: Can multivitamins be taken with other medications?
A: Multivitamins can be taken with some medications. But in other cases they may impact the effectiveness of the medication, making it either more or less potent (31). This is true for both over the counter (OTC) medications like NSAIDs and antacids, as well as prescription drugs including antibiotics and blood pressure medications. If you are currently taking medications to treat a specific condition, you should discuss the matter with your primary care physician before taking multivitamins. As a general rule, the more ingredients in a supplement, the greater the odds it will produce a counterproductive reaction with medications.
Q: Can multivitamins reduce the risk of women dying from breast cancer?
A: Research suggests that multivitamins can indeed significantly reduce the likelihood of an older woman dying from invasive breast cancer (32). Nearly 8,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 with invasive breast cancer were closely followed for seven years. At the end of that time it was found that the death rate for those who took multivitamin supplements was 30 percent lower than those who didn’t take multivitamins. More research is needed to confirm this finding. But it’s a very encouraging result nonetheless.
Q: Should women over 50 take multivitamins with collagen?
A: Collagen is comprised of amino acids and is the most abundant protein the human body. It’s a vital component of bones, skin, cartilage and other tissues. As we age our bodies produce less and less collagen and that’s one reason our skin begins to sag and our bones become brittle. So, yes, women over 50 should not hesitate to take a multivitamin with collagen. It can help fend off some of the worst effects of aging and it has few, if any, side effects. Taking supplemental collagen can help reduce some of the effects of arthritis (33) and ensure that any cuts heal properly.
Q: Can I cut a multi in half if it’s too big to swallow?
A: There is nothing wrong with cutting a multivitamin in half if you need to in order to swallow it. For that matter, you can also crush it or even chew it (if your teeth can handle it and you don’t mind the bitter taste). The potency of a vitamin tablet is not dependent on its shape. So cutting vitamins in half is a common thing for women to do when they find the tablet too big to swallow easily. Just remember that cutting it in half may create a sharp edge along the cut line that could be uncomfortable going down.
Multivitamins for women over 50 can play a vital role in ensuring robust health well into old age. Regardless of what you may have heard about vitamins being ineffective, there is a mountain of clinical evidence that supports the proposition that they can be instrumental in treating many conditions and preventing others from taking hold.
With so many different formulations on the market today, there is bound to be one that will effectively address your needs. But if you have any questions regarding which is best for you, don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor first. Speaking of your doctor, if you are currently taking any sort of medication, make sure you ask your doctor before taking a multivitamin. This will help prevent any possible negative interaction between the multi and the medication.
All of the multivitamins for women over 50 on our list are high-quality supplements produced in reputable facilities and are capable of providing numerous health benefits. There is sure to be one that will suit your nutritional needs to a T.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended multivitamin for women over 50, click here.