Multivitamins for women are formulated to account for a woman’s specific nutritional needs. By doing so, they help fend off diseases like osteoporosis and anemia, which disproportionately affect women.
Multivitamins for women also contain antioxidants and micronutrients that make them valuable tools in the fight against chronic skin conditions, heart disease, and more.
Our team of experts has determined that the following multivitamins for women are the best on the market for 2021.
1. Ritual Essential for Women
Ritual is dedicated to the proposition that transparency matters. So they make all their ingredient sources freely available on their website. The ingredient list for their Essential for Women multivitamin is blissfully uncluttered and focuses on only those vitamins and minerals women actually need.
What we like: Essential for Women hits the nutritional bullseye with magnesium and calcium for strong bones, iron to prevent anemia, and vitamins C, E, K, and B12. There is also glucosamine for healthy joints and amino acids for strong muscles.
Flaws: You’ll pay a bit more for these than some other multivitamins.
2. SmartyPants Women’s Formula Gummy Multivitamins
Who says multivitamins have to be dull and tasteless? If you want something more from your multi, try SmartyPants Women’s Formula Gummies. You’ll get the nutrients your body needs and enjoy a remarkably tasty snack at the same time.
What we like: When done right, gummies can be a welcome break from capsules and tablets. And SmartyPants does it right. Lots of antioxidants, B vitamins, and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, all in their high-quality forms. No allergens, artificial flavors, or GMOs.
Flaws: Does not contain iron and the cost is higher per dose of 6 gummies per day.
3. Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi for Women
NutriGenesis Multi for Women from Performance Lab is a well-rounded multi that provides comprehensive nutrient coverage while never compromising on quality. Like many of the best multivitamins for women, it offers both prebiotic and probiotic support for your digestive system.
What we like: This is one of the purest multivitamins on the market. You won’t find any GMOs, or food allergens that are often slipped unnoticed into cheaper supplements. The final product is also subjected to rigorous third-party testing.
Flaws: Some women may balk at the required four capsules per day, but due to the high amounts of the nutrients, cutting the dose in half may yield similar benefit and reduce the cost per dose.. Neither folate or B12 are in methylated forms, which may not be absorbed as well for some women.
4. Life Extension Two-Per-Day Multivitamin
Life Extension is a fairly new player in the supplement space, but they have quickly made a name for themselves because they dot their i’s and cross their t’s. Their Two-Per Day Multivitamin, while not specifically marketed to women, nonetheless addresses many of their concerns.
What we like: Two-Per-Day multis are rich in antioxidants, methylfolate, methylated B12 and magnesium (which are all things we want to see in a women’s multi), and contain vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption from your diet. With two caps per day, there is also less to swallow. Since this supplement provides over 100% of many nutrients, you can cut the dose in half.
Flaws: If you don’t swallow quickly, it may leave an aftertaste. It does not contain boron or vitamin K2 and only a small amount of magnesium, so bones are not as supported.
5. One a Day Multivitamin for Women
One a Day is not messing around with their Multivitamin for Women. It gives women a break by packing all their nutrients into a single daily capsule.
What we like: If the notion of taking 2, 3 or 4 tablets a day does not appeal to you, try One a Day Multivitamin for Women. Don’t worry. There’s a wide range of vitamins to help you meet most of your nutritional needs if your diet is lacking.
Flaws: Folate and B12 are not methylated, other nutrients do not specify the active form, and both calcium and vitamin D are lower than what is ideal. Fillers and binders are also in the ingredient list.
6. NOW Supplements Eve Women’s Multivitamin
NOW understands that B vitamins are the real workhorses of the vitamin world and goes all-in on B-complex with their Eve Women’s Multivitamin. NOW has been a family-owned and run business since 1968 and has an enormous customer base for a reason.
What we like: The emphasis on B vitamins in this supplement is impressive, but NOW has not skrimped on other nutrients women need. That includes calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium. It also contains the antioxidants vitamins C and E as well as CoQ10 and compounds helpful for hormone balance and disease prevention.
Flaws: They contain iron so don’t give them to the kids.
7. Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women
Garden of Life prides itself on being a company that does its homework. You won’t find any superfluous ingredients intended to pad the nutrient list in a Garden of Life supplement. Everything is here for a reason.
What we like: Magnesium, folate, probiotics, C, E, D and B-complex vitamins, they’re all here. But GoL scientists understand that a multivitamin is only as effective as your body allows it to be. That is why they also include probiotics for gut health, albeit in low amounts. The product also contains bone-supporting nutrients like boron, vitamin K, and D, as well as CoQ10, a nutrient vital for energy production and heart health..
Flaws: Vegetarian but not vegan-friendly.
8. Rainbow Light Women’s Multivitamin
Rainbow Light takes a holistic approach to dietary supplements with natural ingredients, probiotics to enhance bioavailability and eco-friendly packaging. With their Women’s Multivitamin, you get the nutrients you need without producing more waste for the Pacific garbage patch.
What we like: Everything is here except for calcium. That includes pre and probiotics, tons of antioxidants, and liver-supporting compounds. Rainbow Light Women’s Multivitamin is certified organic and contains no GMOs or food allergens.
Flaws: Four capsules per day will be too much for some women. It does not contain magnesium or CoQ10.
9. Vitafusion Women’s Supercharged Multi
Not everyone is thrilled by the prospect of swallowing several large multivitamin capsules or tablets every day. That’s why we have gummies. Vitafusion Women’s Supercharged Multis are some of the tastiest gummies on the market. T
What we like: Vitafusion covers the basic nutrients like B-vitamins, zinc, the antioxidant vitamins, folate, B12, and iodine. Somehow they manage to deliver it all in a great-tasting gummy.
Flaws: They’re gummies, so keep them out of direct sunlight. This product is not as comprehensive as other choices as it lacks magnesium, vitamin K, CoQ10, methylated vitamins, and probiotics.
10. Nature Made Women’s Multivitamin
Last but not least on our list is Nature Made Women’s Multivitamin. If you are in search of a great value in the women’s multivitamin space, look no further. With 300 capsules per bottle and a one capsule per day dosage, you’re good to go for almost a year.
What we like: Lucky for value-hunters, these multivitamins from Nature Made are not just priced right, they also contain most of the micronutrients a woman needs. Antioxidants, iron, calcium, B-complex, and more are all present and accounted for.
Flaws: The calcium dose is pretty modest. Many nutrients are in synthetic or poorly-absorbed forms.
Do Women Need to Take Multivitamins?
Whether or not a particular woman needs to take a multivitamin every day will be up to her to decide. However, there is copious evidence that strongly suggests it is a smart thing to do. Multivitamins can and do address many of the specific nutritional needs of women, including the need for iron and bone-supporting nutrients. Multivitamins can also bolster the immune system, improve the health of a woman’s skin, hair, and nails, and help her get more from her workouts.
Multivitamins are not ‘medicine’ per se. Their value lies mostly in their ability to prevent various health conditions from arising. As such, quantifying their effectiveness can be devilishly difficult, although numerous health studies have tried. What they found is that women who take multivitamins on a regular basis tend to have fewer instances of anemia, fewer instances of osteoporosis, and also suffer fewer heart attacks, strokes, and broken bones when they get older (1). So, in answer to the question “Do women need to take multivitamins?” the answer is, “It depends”. If a woman wants to help prevent or reduce risk of chronic diseases and bridge nutrients gaps and potentially improve quality of life, then “Yes”. If she is looking to merely extend her lifespan, the research is not as convincing.
How We Ranked
When evaluating multivitamins for women there are some pretty clear guidelines to go by. That is because the nutritional needs of women are markedly different from those of men. For instance, women lose a significant amount of iron during menstruation. That’s not something that ever happens to men. Therefore, a multivitamin for women under 50 should contain iron to account for that loss.
Women are also several times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men (2). That means that it’s also important that a multivitamin for women take that into account and, if possible, include calcium or a combination of bone-supporting nutrients like vitamin K2, boron, magnesium and more. (We say ‘if possible’ because calcium can sometimes undermine the effectiveness of other nutrients and for that reason is not present in all women’s multivitamins.) In addition, a women’s multivitamin should include plenty of vitamin D. Why? Because vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium effectively. Vitamin D deficiency is also very common and can affect immune function, especially as one ages.
Magnesium is another extremely important vitamin that should be on the ingredient list of any multivitamin for women. Magnesium plays a fundamental role in creating and maintaining strong, healthy bones and for proper muscle function and relaxation. It’s also important for regulating blood pressure, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
So, when ranking multivitamins for this list, we only included ones that speak directly to women’s unique nutritional needs. But beyond the specific micronutrients we want to see in a multivitamin for women, other issues also weighed on our decision-making process.
We gave a thumbs down to any multivitamin for women that included GMOs or other ingredients that might undermine effectiveness. We also deducted points for those that included artificial flavors, colors, fillers, or preservatives, and those that contained food allergens. And we insisted on multis that are produced in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facilities in the US.
Multivitamins for women may help prevent cancer. There is research that suggests taking a multivitamin on a regular basis may actually reduce a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer (3). Colorectal cancer is a highly deadly, but also highly preventable cancer. Though more extensive research is needed, a multivitamin may be a useful strategy along with other healthy lifestyle behaviors in preventing some cancers.
Multivitamins for women boost the immune system. When a woman’s immune system is compromised by nutrient deficiencies, it can leave her susceptible to all kinds of short and long-term health problems. Vitamins C, D, and B6 are known to boost immune function (4). All three are common ingredients in the best multivitamins for women.
Multivitamins for women may help prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis (5) affects an estimated 8 million women in the US alone. And while the vast majority of those are older women, the fact is osteoporosis does not simply appear out of nowhere. It has many causes. When a woman is calcium deficient in her teens, 20s and 30s, it can set the stage for osteoporosis later in life. A multivitamin for women that contains calcium, or calcium-enhancing and bone-supporting nutrients like vitamin D and magnesium, is a good idea for women of every age.
Multivitamins for women can help prevent heart disease. There is some debate among health professionals regarding the overall effectiveness of multivitamins. Some say they help in numerous ways. Others are skeptical. There is, however, no disagreement among scientists that antioxidants are good for your heart (6), though the ideal source is from food. The best multivitamins for women are typically rich in vitamin A and C, both well-known antioxidants.
Multivitamins for women fill nutrient gaps caused by dieting. Young women tend to be very weight conscious, due to both societal and health pressures. Obesity can lead to scores of health problems (including type 2 diabetes), and can shorten your life (7). Keeping your weight in check is a good idea. The problem is that dieting can often lead to nutritional shortfalls. If you are on a weight loss diet, make sure you are taking a good multivitamin for women to fill any nutrient gaps.
Multivitamins for women are essential if you work out. Workouts help you build lean, strong muscle and stay physically fit. At the same time, however, the process of working out can deplete your body of electrolyte minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Magnesium is critical to dozens of metabolic processes. Calcium is vital to maintaining healthy bones. And potassium helps your muscles function smoothly and effectively. If you work out on a regular basis, make sure you’re taking a multivitamin that includes both magnesium and potassium, electrolytes that will be in higher demand than calcium after exercise.
Multivitamins for women contain potent antioxidants. Antioxidants (8) are our frontline defense against free radicals and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is responsible for a host of age-related health conditions, including heart disease, and is also believed to play a central role in the development of cancer. Multivitamins for women typically include generous amounts of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. For the most oxidative stress protection, the supplement should also contain the antioxidant mineral selenium and CoQ10.
Multivitamins for women can provide anti-inflammatory benefits. This is a little known benefit of multivitamins, but a very important one. Inflammation (9) is the culprit behind numerous chronic health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and heart disease. Keeping it in check is vital for maintaining long-term health. Several vitamins found in most multivitamins for women assist in the anti-inflammatory process, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Bonus if the supplement contains omega-3 fatty acids.
Multivitamins for women are good for your eyes. Over time, a woman’s eyes can fall prey to numerous chronic conditions, including cataracts (10) and macular degeneration (11). Once these conditions set in, there is nothing a multivitamin can do to reverse them. The smartest approach is to make sure you give your eyes the vitamins A and E they need, as well as other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and lutein, so that you have a lower risk of developing those conditions.
Multivitamins for women can make it easier to deal with stress. Stress is like acid on a woman’s system. Headaches, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, irritability, weight gain and more are all common side effects of stress (12). Stress is largely a function of the nervous system, so giving your nerves the B vitamins, magnesium and other nutrients they need to function smoothly is important. B vitamins help convert the food we eat into energy, while magnesium relaxes the mind and muscles, both of which ensure smooth nervous system function and a tempered stress response.
Multivitamins for women are good for hair and skin. The calories a woman consumes are used to power her muscles and a multitude of metabolic functions. But what about hair and skin that are not tied to any particular physical function? What keeps them looking and feeling healthy? The answer in part is micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, C, E, niacin (B3), and biotin, are all essential for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails too.
Multivitamins for women can increase energy levels. Our bodies run on calories. They produce the energy that enables us to wake up, stand up and get through the day. But beyond that, the body needs micronutrients. Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – help create energy from calories and make sure it is passed into our cells. If we don’t get enough micronutrients, we may feel listless and tired. Multivitamins for women can prevent that.
Multivitamins for women enable your busy lifestyle. One of the benefits a multivitamin for women can provide is that it may help you find the energy you need to make it through another meeting, another presentation, or another night of cramming for your final exams. A large percentage of women today juggle motherhood and career. A good multivitamin can make that process a lot easier by bridging nutrient gaps that often result in decreased energy.
Multivitamins for women may enhance memory. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in maintaining brain health and memory (13). So making sure you get enough B12 is important for staying mentally sharp. While there is debate about whether or not B12 can actually help restore memory in those suffering from cognitive decline, there is little doubt that if you want to prevent that decline, B12 can help.
Multivitamins for women may reduce the risk of stroke. The B vitamins are present in nearly all multivitamin formulations. And for good reason. They help facilitate red blood cell production, play an important role in determining mood, bolster memory, improve the quality of your skin, and much more. Recent studies are also suggesting that B vitamins may play a role in reducing the risk of strokes by decreasing homocysteine, a key influencer in stroke risk (14). B12 in the form of methlycobalamin or hydroxycobalamin appear superior to cyanocobalamin. There is some conflicting information, and no hard and fast rules can be determined yet, but the data is promising. Considering supplemental B vitamins carry a very low toxicity risk, they are a great family of vitamins to include.
Multivitamins for women will lay the foundation for good health later in life. Everything we do now affects how we will feel at some point later in life. Even if you are in your 20s or 30s, the food you eat (or don’t eat) and the amount and type of activity you engage in will decide whether you face middle age vibrant and healthy, or run-down and prone to illness and injury. Taking a multivitamin is one way for a healthy young woman to hedge her bets and help ensure she becomes a healthy older woman.
Multivitamins for women may improve your mood. People who feel listless and tired typically suffer from a general lack of enthusiasm. Multivitamins for women can help restore energy levels and lift a woman’s mood if she is deficient in B12. In addition, vitamin B12 plays an important role in the health of the nervous system and is connected to depression and anxiety (15). So when choosing a multivitamin to help lift your mood, make sure it includes lots of B12.
Multivitamins for women may help you feel better. Given all the benefits listed above, there should be little doubt that taking a multivitamin for women every day will help you feel better, especially if your diet is lacking. You’ll likely have more energy, feel more alert, look better, perhaps enjoy a more positive outlook, be able to fight off colds and infections more effectively, and be less stressed out. Given all of that, plus the possibility of reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis, not taking a multivitamin every day is something to carefully weigh out.
Q: Do young women really need multivitamins?
A: Those that have a nutrient-dense diet may not need a multivitamin, though sadly, the majority of people eat a diet lacking in important nutrients. Multivitamins for women may also relieve stress and anxiety and prevent the onset of numerous chronic and acute health problems. So if a woman wants to give herself the best chance of avoiding, say, heart disease, it’s likely she would benefit from a daily multivitamin. At the end of the day, it’s up to the individual woman. but the potential benefits put up a strong argument.
Q: Which vitamins are most important for women?
A: A woman has different nutritional needs that must be accounted for in any multivitamin for women. Women typically need more iron than men in order to prevent anemia. They also need more bone-supporting nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium and more to fend off osteoporosis later in life. Without adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium cannot be properly absorbed. Folate and B12 are two B-vitamins that are essential for energy metabolism and for protecting DNA from damage during the aging process. Women on vegetarian or restrictive diets may be at risk for deficiencies in iron, omega-3’s, zinc, biotin and more. Biotin deficiency is one factor that contributes to hair loss in women (16).
Q: Can multivitamins for women help with PMS symptoms?
A: It is now believed that deficiencies in vitamin B and D, as well as calcium and magnesium deficiencies, can play a role in PMS. The exact mechanism by which calcium and vitamin D affect the likelihood of PMS is not fully understood, but research points to a correlation in risk of symptoms (17). Also, magnesium is known to regulate dopamine in the brain, therefore, not enough could aggravate mood swings and feelings of depression.
Q: What’s the best time for a women to take a multivitamin?
A: Multivitamins are not medicine used to address an acute condition like an infection. Their value is primarily preventive in nature. Therefore, there is no ‘best’ time of the day or night to take a multivitamin. The most important thing is to take it at a time you will remember and are able to be consistent. The best way to ensure you don’t skip days is to make taking a multivitamin part of an already established daily routine, like breakfast or lunch.
Q: Should a women’s multivitamin contain iron?
A: The average woman of child-bearing age loses anywhere from 4 to 100 mg of iron during each period (18). As a result, she may need twice as much iron as the average man. Unfortunately, many women do not get that added iron from their regular diet. So yes, a woman’s multivitamin should contain iron. That said, since postmenopausal women do not suffer the same iron loss every month as younger women, they typically do not need supplemental iron. Certain nutrients compete for absorption, so if a supplement contains iron, it may not contain zinc and/or calcium which could reduce efficacy.
Q: Can women take multivitamins that are past the expiration date?
A: The expiration date on multivitamins do not represent a cliff. That is, the multivitamin does not go from being potent the day before the expiration date to useless the next day. The bottom line is that ‘expired’ vitamins may lose some of their potency, but they are not likely to produce any short or long-term health problems. And for the record, the FDA states clearly that expiration dates are not required on dietary supplements (19).
Q: Can a women take a men’s multivitamin?
A: Of course. You could take a kid’s multivitamin too. But you would not get everything you need from either one. Men’s multivitamins almost never include iron, have less calcium on average than women’s multis, and often include micronutrients that promote the production of testosterone. Women’s multivitamins may include isoflavones (20), which can mimic the effects and benefits of estrogen. Men’s multis will not include these micronutrients.
Q: Is the production of multivitamins regulated?
A: No. The production of multivitamins is not regulated, at least not in the sense that people think of with prescription drugs. Multivitamins are considered dietary supplements and companies are not required to prove safety before marketing or selling them. While the FDA does not regulate what vitamins and minerals go into a multivitamin, it does forbid misleading advertising related to multis, and it establishes strict guidelines regulating how production facilities should operate (21). That said, many products still do not contain what they advertise after third-party testing.
Q: Why do some women’s vitamins contain probiotics?
A: The digestive system is, in many very real ways, the mediator of good health. A clean, efficient digestive tract enables a woman to obtain greater nutrient value from the food she eats and the supplements she takes. Probiotics (22) are the digestive enzymes healthy gut bacteria that assist in energy production, immune function, disease prevention and more.
Q: Do multivitamins for women contain fiber?
A: The vast majority of multivitamins for women do not contain any measurable amount of fiber. There’s a good reason for this. Fiber is not a micronutrient, like say, vitamin C. Fiber takes up a lot of space. If manufacturers were to include fiber in their multivitamins, the pills would either be huge, or you would need to take several at a time. Fiber, however, is easily obtained by simply eating a variety of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.
Q: Why are so many women’s multivitamins gummies?
A: There is no big mystery behind the plethora of women’s multivitamins that come in gummy form. It’s a matter of producers listening to their customers. Many women prefer to get their vitamins and minerals in a chewable form, rather than having to swallow large pills. Gummies are also more like candy and less like medicine, which makes them more appealing. After all, who doesn’t like candy?
Q: Should I consult a doctor before taking a multivitamin for women?
A: Some nutrients when taken in supplemental form, especially in high doses, may raise your risk for certain conditions. For example, excessive selenium can lead to hair loss, too much calcium may increase stroke risk, excessive vitamin E can increase your cancer risk, while excessive zinc can reduce absorption of calcium, iron and/or copper. If you are currently taking any prescription medications, then you should talk to your doctor to make sure that medication is not affected by any particular vitamins or minerals. Pregnant and nursing women should also discuss any supplements with their doctor before taking them.
Q: Do young women need to take calcium?
A: It depends. Calcium is important at every age and at every stage of a woman’s life. Calcium is not only necessary for muscle, nerve, and heart function, a lack of it at a young age can lead to osteoporosis (23) later in life. A balanced diet will typically provide all the calcium a young woman needs. But how many young people actually eat a balanced diet? Not many. As such, calcium supplements can make up for dietary shortfalls but it is important to assess your diet first, or only supplement with 50% or less of your daily needs.
Q: Will the multivitamins on your list work for women of all ages?
A: The multivitamins for women on our list are intended for use by pre-menopausal women. Women who have already experienced menopause have a slightly different set of nutritional needs than their younger counterparts. They typically do not require supplemental iron, and may need more focus on bone health and reducing inflammation.
Multivitamins for women provide an array of health benefits that affect virtually every aspect of a woman’s wellbeing.
Multivitamins for women may help prevent osteoporosis, anemia, heart disease, memory loss, and much more, if correcting nutrient deficiencies. While their benefits are often difficult to discern and may take years to appreciate, those benefits are nonetheless very real and should not be dismissed.
The multivitamins for women on the above listed were judged by our team of experts to be some of the best on the market as of this writing. Use this information to determine which one is right for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended multivitamin for women, click here.