nutrition

Medically Reviewed

Considering a Women’s Multivitamin? A Simple Guide to Choosing

Woman holding multi-colored vitamins in the left hand and an empty vitamin package in the right.

Women have particular vitamin needs, especially during pregnancy. A multivitamin may be a good option for them.

Do women’s multivitamins actually work?

Multivitamins contain different vitamins and minerals and are available as tablets, gummies, powders, liquids, and capsules. Some women and people assigned female at birth take multivitamins to try to help their bodies function at a higher level, especially before and during pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that women of reproductive age get 400 daily micrograms of folic acid. So, if a multivitamin boosts a young woman’s folic acid intake, then it can be beneficial for her. Moreover, the iron in most multivitamins can be helpful for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

Do you need to take a multivitamin?

Here’s what’s important to know about taking a multivitamin: It’s not meant to replace nutrient-rich foods. Multivitamins – like all vitamins and supplements – can help fill nutrient gaps in your diet. Nutrient gaps are regrettably common, since most people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets, and most people don’t get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamins and minerals. If this describes you, you may want to look into taking vitamins and supplements, including a multivitamin. The Care/of multivitamin, for example, is designed with the latest research for maximum effectiveness. Before taking any new supplement, though, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.

What essential vitamins and minerals do women need?

Iron

Iron is a mineral that your body needs for carrying oxygen throughout the body. The RDA of iron for the average woman is 18 mg. During pregnancy, the RDA of iron goes up to 27 mg. Iron is an essential mineral during pregnancy, as iron deficiency during pregnancy can increase health risks for the mother and the developing child alike. Others who may need additional iron include people who menstruate heavily, eat plant-based diets, or exercise often. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before taking an iron supplement so that you can get your iron levels measured. Excess iron can be toxic.

Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in cell membrane formation and health and helps support liver and brain functioning. It also helps with memory, mood, and muscle control. It’s recommended that women consume 425 mg daily. During pregnancy, that total recommended intake goes up to 450 mg.

B vitamins

Eight B vitamins comprise what we know as vitamin B-complex: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). All of these vitamins serve to keep your body functioning at an optimal level. However, vitamin B-complex takes on a particular importance when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. B-complex helps support fetal brain development and promote healthier pregnancies. B vitamins also generally support the nervous system and energy metabolism. When taking B vitamins it is best to look for the active versions like B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate, B12 as methylcobalamin, folic acid as folate since these versions can be easier to use.

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that’s vitally important for bone health, muscular health, and cardiovascular health. Current research points to the major importance of young women getting sufficient calcium intake. During pregnancy, in particular, it’s important to get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. That’s because your body will do what it takes to care for the developing child, including taking calcium from your own bones if necessary. Care/of’s calcium supplement includes vitamin D and K2 for improved absorption and includes magnesium from Irish seawater.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vitally important for musculoskeletal function, bone health, and parathyroid function. Unfortunately, most people are deficient in vitamin D. You probably know that you can get vitamin D from spending time in the sun – but sun-induced vitamin D synthesis is affected by the season, where you live, your level of skin pigmentation, aging, and your use of sunscreen. Vitamin D supplements can therefore be helpful, including Care/of’s vitamin D, “The Sunny D3.” The RDA for men and women alike is 15 mcg. Vitamin D can be especially important for pregnant women, given vitamin D’s support of calcium absorption. Studies also show that vitamin D can be beneficial for the bone health of postmenopausal women.

How do I choose the right multivitamin for women?

Assessing quality of ingredients

To make sure you’re picking the right multivitamin, look for a multivitamin that includes active forms of vitamins that are easily absorbed. You’re also going to want a multivitamin that has non-GMO ingredients and isn’t packed with unnecessarily fillers. Be on the lookout, too, for standards that follow your dietary restrictions, e.g. gluten free or vegan friendly. The Care/of multivitamin is created with up-to-date research to guarantee quality absorption.

Third-party testing

You should also check to be sure the supplement you’re purchasing has been third-party tested. This will typically be mentioned on the bottle. Third-party testing ensures that what’s listed on the label is what’s actually in the supplement.

Formulation

The way your multivitamin is formulated is of the utmost importance. A quality supplement will adhere to the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations and will make this known on the label. You should also take a look at the dose on the label to ensure that you’re not over-supplementing, but are simply filling the gaps that you need to fill.

Appropriate daily value percentages

Remember the reason you’re taking a multivitamin in the first place. The key is to use a multivitamin to help you achieve the appropriate daily values of the nutrients you need. That’s why you may want to avoid a multivitamin that offers well over 100% of the daily value, unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional. Your best bet is to look for a supplement with lower percentages. This information should be available to you on the label.

Is it better to take a multi or vitamins separately?

This is a good question, and the answer is: Well, it depends. An advantage of taking individual vitamins separately is that you’ll probably avoid getting more of a vitamin than your body requires. A multivitamin can be preferable, provided the percentages of each vitamin are appropriate to your needs. This may be especially true for pregnant women who need folic acid, iron, and other important nutrients.

Key takeaways

Multivitamins can benefit your health in myriad ways and are available in a number of forms. Some women take multivitamins, especially when pregnant or trying to conceive. To benefit from a multivitamin, you should assess the quality of the ingredients, whether it’s been third-party tested, whether the formulation meets the CGMP standards, and whether it includes the appropriate daily values. Some essential vitamins that women need include iron, choline, B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Care/of’s multivitamin is an excellent option, designed for maximum absorption.

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