Say goodbye to panic in the vitamin aisles.
If hunting for anything other than ibuprofen in the pharmacy section of the grocery store sends you into a panic, you’re not alone. Browsing the thousands of vitamins and supplements available in-store is extremely overwhelming, especially if you don’t even know what you should be taking, even if you’re looking for a basic multivitamin.
Chances are you’re not getting every single vitamin and mineral you need from your diet, so taking a multivitamin can help fill in where needed. You can also choose to take individual supplements to meet your personal needs. No matter what route you decide to take, always consult with your doctor first, as they’ll be able to tailor your multivitamin or supplement routine to your personal needs. Plus, they’ll also be able to recommend the correct dosage of vitamins and minerals you should be taking, as it’s never one size fits all.
If you already know you need a multivitamin because there are some nutritional gaps in your diet that need to be filled, we’ve scoured the shelves and talked to experts to help you shop. Mastaneh Sharafi, Ph.D., RD, from Ritual and Lana Butner, ND, LAc, explain how you should go about choosing one that’s right for you.
How do you pick a multivitamin that’s right for you?
The easiest answer is to ask your doctor. However, generally, you want to look for something that’s made for women over 50 with evolving nutrient needs. “The nutrient delivery technology also makes a difference,” Dr. Sharafi says. “While some multivitamins may dissolve earlier in the stomach, stomach acid can impact vitamins and minerals negatively. This is why we use a delayed-release capsule that’s designed to dissolve later and bypass the stomach to the small intestine, where the nutrients can easily be absorbed.”
As you would probably expect, Dr. Butner also recommends talking to your doctor before assuming a multivitamin will cover all of your needs. “While meeting a recommended daily intake (RDI) is a valiant goal, the standardized RDIs that appear on the back of a multivitamin nutrition label are set at the bare minimum of what is needed by the body, meaning that these levels are hardly adequate for optimal functioning and performance,” she says.
“Even if on paper, you do meet the RDI of a nutrient through food intake alone, that RDI may not be enough for your individualized needs,” she continues. “That is to say, do not rely on vitamins including a multivitamin to provide you with absolutely everything you need but do consider it as an ‘insurance’ measure.”
If you find yourself on your own while searching for a daily multivitamin, Dr. Butner recommends looking for something that has lab or third-party verification on the label as supplements are not currently regulated by the FDA.
“Liquid form is most bioavailable (aka: easily absorbed), as the body (stomach) does not have to break down the capsule or pill, meaning that liquid MVMs bypass the body’s First Pass Metabolism,” Dr. Butner explains. “Capsule and pill forms are ideal too. These are better for nutrients that are timed-release.”
The last choice? Gummy vitamins. “They contain extra sugars and binders, which contain additional ingredients that are unnecessary for women’s bodies, at any age,” Dr. Butner says. Even though they taste good, they’re not as effective as other forms because of the sugar.
What should you look for in a multivitamin?
Dr. Sharafi notes that there are a few important minerals and nutrients that should definitely be in your multivitamin, however, this is not an exhaustive list. Some she mentioned are:
Omega-3 DHA: It’s important for supporting brain health, heart health, and vision, yet most women aged 50 and up are not getting recommended levels for key Omega-3s from their diet.
Vitamin D: More than 97 percent of women aged 50 and up are not getting enough vitamin D from their diet, and the vitamin is key to help support normal immune function and normal muscle function.
Folate: Folate supports red blood cell health, normal energy-yielding metabolism, and neurotransmitters in the brain, which is why it’s important to include this in your multivitamin routine. However, up to one-third of the population has a genetic polymorphism that makes it more difficult for them to efficiently utilize folic acid, which is why Ritual uses a version called 5MTHF, a biologically active form of folate, in the Ritual multivitamin.
Vitamin E: This important nutrient helps fight against free radicals, yet 90 percent of women over 50 are low in this nutrient. When it comes to this nutrient, it’s important to look for a multivitamin with vitamin E sourced from mixed tocopherols, which are fat-soluble alcohols.
Vitamin B12: Older adults often have a harder time absorbing vitamin B12 from food sources. Because of this, the Institute of Medicine (IoM) recommends that adults over the age of 50 obtain most of their vitamin B12 from vitamin supplements or fortified foods.
Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 can be more difficult to find in typical Western diets than vitamin K1. Vitamin K2 MK7 form is shown to be absorbed more efficiently than other vitamin K forms and can help support bone health and vascular health.
Dr. Butner also recommends the above, and she said that she also likes to ensure that several other minerals and nutrients are included:
Magnesium: Magnesium is important for brain health and a good night’s rest. There are several forms of magnesium, which have different purposes.
•Glycinate for calming. It’s a smooth muscle relaxant.
•Oxide for bowel movement support.
•Citrate for bowel movement support.
•Threonate for calming the nervous system.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps fight toxins in the body and also supports eye health.
Biotin: Biotin supports healthy hair, skin, and nail growth.
CoQ10: CoQ10 is essential for supporting heart health, but it’s especially important to take if you are prescribed a statin. It’s incredibly important to focus on heart health as we age due to the wearing down of cardiac tissue over time, the potential buildup of plaque in the arteries over years of certain diet and lifestyle practices, and the natural increase in blood pressure with age.
Calcium: Women over 50, especially those with smaller frames and low bone density, are at a greater risk for the degeneration and weakening of their bones, also known as osteopenia, which eventually can turn into osteoporosis. Ensuring you get enough calcium is key, but you must supplement it with other nutrients to ensure proper absorption.
The Best Multivitamins for Women Over 50
Ritual Essential for Women 50+ Multivitamin
Dr. Sharafi is obviously a fan of this one, and there are plenty of things that set it apart from other vitamins you’d find at the grocery store. “Our capsule is particularly unique in that we use a patented beadlet-in-oil technology so that we can combine oily and dry ingredients into one capsule. This enables us to include key nutrients like Omega-3 DHA and Vitamin D in two pills a day,” she says. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like folate, magnesium, vitamin B12, E, and K2.
Thorne Women’s Multi 50+ w/o CU FE
One of Dr. Butner’s favorite multivitamins is this one by Thorne. It contains a majority of the minerals and nutrients she recommends, all in a highly absorbable capsule form. If you don’t mind taking more than one pill a day, the recommended dosage of this supplement is six capsules per day. That may sound excessive, but it ensures you’ll get what your body needs each day.
Vitamin Code 50 and Wiser Women’s Multi
You may not think of it, but some supplements actually contain gluten, which isn’t good if you follow a gluten-free diet or have Celiac disease. This multivitamin by Vitamin Code has no fillers or binders (and is gluten-free), so you can take it without worrying about any excess ingredients interfering with your absorption. The recommended daily intake is two capsules, which you can take with food or empty into a drink if you have trouble swallowing pills.
Centrum Silver Women 50+ Multivitamin
Unlike some vitamins for women over 50, this one from Centrum does contain iron, which is good if you and your doctor find you’re not getting enough from your diet. It contains all the other major key players like vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin K, and calcium, but it also contains biotin to help promote healthy hair and nails. This comes in a tablet form, so it may be hard for some to digest and swallow, so keep that in mind.
Persona Nutrition Personalized Vitamins
You’re not going to find a multivitamin on any shelf that fits your specific needs to a T, but opting for a personalized multivitamin will get you pretty close. Based on your responses to a quiz, Persona nutritionists will create an individualized vitamin plan for you. The only downside to this personalized care is you may end up taking more than one pill a day to have your specific needs met, but the trade off is receiving the individualized care plan.
Garden of Life mykind Organics Women’s 55+ Once Daily Multivitamin
If ensuring the ingredients in your multivitamin are non-GMO and organic is important to you, look no further. All of the ingredients in this multivitamin for women 55 and older are derived from certified organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables, and it’s entirely vegan. You’ll receive more than 18 vitamins and minerals in a tablet, including vitamin K, B12, D3, E, A, and C, along with folate, biotin, and more.
One A Day Women’s 50+ Multivitamin
Another brand you’ll often see at the grocery store or drugstore is One A Day, which has a ton of variations depending on your stage of life. The brand (owned by Bayer) has been around since 1940, proving it’s definitely working for those who take it. This tablet, as you can guess, only needs to be taken once a day, and contains all the key players mentioned above, as well as biotin, magnesium, and niacin.
The information provided on this site isn’t intended as medical advice, and shouldn’t replace professional medical treatment. Consult your doctor with any serious health concerns.
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