Many women who’re on-the-go take a daily multivitamin to make sure they’re covering all their nutritional bases.
Multivitamins for women were one of the first developed supplements (dating back to 1934) and are considered your nutritional insurance policy. Simply put, they plug any “nutrition holes” you might have due to diet, exercise, genetics, lifestyle and medication (1).
Vitamins for women are taken by millions of people every year, and are believed to be particularly effective at preventing illness. Some people see multivitamins as a way to stay healthy and live a long life.
A healthy diet that contains high levels of all essential vitamins and minerals will have little need for a multivitamin. However, someone with poor nutrition whether from a low-quality diet or from foods grown in nutrient-depleted soil, may benefit. In this article we will be looking specifically at the benefits of multivitamin use for women, while acknowledging benefits that affect both men and women.
Best Multivitamin For Women
1Ritual Essential for Women
Ritual Essential for Women has not only created a supplement that provides a simple formulation for use, but also one that is chocked full of exactly what women need to provide a one-stop solution. Ritual’s multivitamin for women has become quite popular among users for its clean and simple formula.
Overall, the supplement contains more than 20 ingredients that are sourced from natural ingredients. This makes Ritual a great option for those who would prefer a supplement that is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and organic. There are also no artificial sweeteners, synthetic fillers, or colors in Ritual Essential For Women.
Another thing that puts them ahead of the competition is that the ingredients included by Ritual are all traceable and transparent. This one of the only supplements that not only provides a clear and direct label but also provides a list of sources directly on their website. This puts them a step ahead of other brands that may not be as open about their ingredients. Overall, there is no better option then Ritual Essential for women.
2Performance Lab Whole-Food Women’s Multi
Performance Lab has been a rising star and dominant force in the supplement marketplace. Their multivitamin for women does not disappoint and continues to maintain the pristine and stellar reputation they have for high-quality products that provide seemingly everything you need for optimum health.
One of the most distinguishing elements found in the Performance Lab multivitamin for women is its formulation. This supplement includes 18 nutrients and provides at least 100% of the daily recommended value for each. Of the many supplements available, this is one of the only options that will provide both a prebiotic and probiotic to create their capsules. This helps to not only provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals you need but also provide the necessary ingredients for optimum digestive health – further enhancing the multivitamin benefits.
When you combine all of this with its allergen-friendly makeup, it’s very hard to deny that this is a true stand out.
3Bauer Nutrition Multivits & Iron
For those looking for a women’s multivitamin to fulfill a specific purpose, Bauer Nutrition Multivits & Iron may be just the fit you’re looking for. This specific supplement is formulated to maintain normal red blood cells, support muscle function, and protect against vitamin deficiencies.
This is an especially good supplement for those who prefer a supplement with fewer doses and a larger supply to reduce the need to refill. The serving size per day with Bauer is just 1 tablet compared to many of its competitors that require 2 and, on occasion, even 3 pills to make up the daily nutritional value needed. Each bottle also includes 90 tablets which provide a 3-month supply.
Additionally, the company’s 60-day guarantee puts it among the most reliable and trustworthy supplement choices on the market. If you’re looking for a good, all-around multivitamin this is certainly worthy of consideration.
4Legion Athletics Triumph
Legion Athletics is another company that is well-known for its high-quality supplement choices. Legion Athletic’s Triumph supplement provides a month’s worth of effective vitamins and nutrients to take care of your everyday needs.
In addition to the standard vitamins and minerals needed to take care of your daily recommended values, this also includes trace minerals and metal nutrients such as copper and zinc. While many of the other available multivitamin supplements for women focus on vitamins specifically, this supplement also emphasizes herbal elements that make it a great choice for those who want a holistic approach to health.
5Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women
Garden of Life is a company known for its unique perspective on supplementation. Their multivitamin for women continues this trend with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients.
Unlike many other companies, Garden of Life provides the required daily vitamin recommendations for women alongside a blend of fruit and vegetable extracts and powders. These serve as a support for the main vitamin ingredients and also provides a boost of additional health benefits found in the foods used in the blend.
Even with the additional extracts, the purity of this supplement is rated extremely high making it an optimum choice for women looking for a supplement to provide more than just your standard women’s multivitamin.
6Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women
Optimum Nutrition demonstrates a profound and accurate understanding of women’s health through the formulation of their multivitamin for women. Rather than focusing on the standard vitamins such as B-complex and Calcium, Optimum Nutrition goes a step further and includes nutrients designed to support women’s health such as soy isoflavones, which help to both build and preserve muscle mass in women specifically.
In addition to this, they also include useful herbal supplements such as garcinia cambogia to help round out their approach to optimum health in women. Coupled with their all-natural ingredient list, this is a wonderful choice for those who want a multivitamin for women that goes in-depth.
7NOW Foods Eve Multivitamin
NOW Foods has a distinct advantage compared to other brands due to its accessibility and reputation. As one of the only supplements available in most grocery stores, this supplement makes an ideal choice for those needing an immediate supplement solution.
In addition to providing the necessary vitamins and nutrients, they also include chelates and inorganic salts to improve the absorption of their formula.
8Naturelo One Daily Multivitamin for Women
The vitamins and minerals provided in Naruelo One Daily are sourced naturally from plants such as acerola cherries and kelp.
Due to the natural formulation, the absorbency in this supplement is extremely high. While it does lack a bit of robustness in terms of calcium and vitamin D, this is still a great choice for most women.
9MegaFood Women’s One Daily Multivitamin
MegaFood Women’s One Daily Multivitamin stands out from the crowd by using a more unorthodox method to source their ingredients.
Instead of the traditional use of inorganic chemicals to provide vitamins and minerals, MegaFood’s ingredients are derived from specially-bred strains of brewer’s yeast. This serves to make for a more absorbent supplement and higher efficacy.
10GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy
In terms of content, the GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Energy multivitamin is a fairly standard choice. Their formula contains your traditional B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D to provide women with the best possible health supplementation.
It should be noted thought that there is the presence of caffeine in this particular supplement. For those who are not caffeine sensitive, this is a solid choice.
How We Ranked
With the vast number of multivitamins for women available, finding the best on the market proved to be an extensive task. To begin our ranking process, we evaluated the ingredients supplement options based on excessive artificial fillers, bulking agents, or artificial colors. This removed several popular names from our list such as Vitafusion and Centrum respectively
Though this is normally one of the final steps in our process, eliminating these options first helped to level the playing field and also remove any supplements that were far below our standards and requirements. This also allowed us to then focus on the nutritional content for each of the remaining supplements.
Studies have found that multivitamins for women should include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, iron, and B-complex. Companies that provided these nutrients in proper doses, like Optimum Nutrition were ranked highly. On the flip side, we removed multiple supplements that did not meet this baseline requirement, including popular favorites such as Rainbow Light.
The next thing we looked at was the deliverability method. Chewables and gummies, in particular, tend to contain more artificial ingredients than those supplements delivered in capsule form. Those supplements shown to have a cleaner design, like Legion Athletics Triumph and Bauer Nutrition Multivits were ranked more highly on our list.
Additionally, we reviewed the source of chemical makeup for each supplement as well. Garden of Life was included in the upper echelon of our rankings to their ingredients being derived from natural sources. Those supplements that used water-soluble forms of their ingredients were also given higher preference than those that used magnesium oxide or similar trace minerals
Lastly, we looked at the bioavailability of each supplement chosen. Supplements that were given the top spots on our list, like Performance Lab and Ritual Essentials, provided effective doses in easily bioavailable forms and were friendly to both vegetarians and vegans making them extremely versatile and safe.
After all this, we determined the top 10 best multivitamins for women.
1Multivitamins for women can prevent cancer. A 2012 study that looked at cancer prevention in men over a fourteen year period (1997-2011) found that daily multivitamin use “modestly but significantly reduced the risk of total cancer” (2).
2Multivitamins for women may fight off illness. While this hasn’t been shown with a multivitamin itself, many of the individual ingredients in multivitamins have been shown to enhance the immune system, improve sleep quality and support organs like the adrenal glands, helping you fight off illnesses especially during times of stress (3, 4).
3Multivitamins for women may help reduce infection in people with poor nutrition. One study from 2003 looked at the effect of using a multivitamin supplement to prevent infection in wide range of adults aged 45-65 (5).
The study found that daily supplementation reduced the incidence of patient-reported infection, especially in those with pre-existing diabetes and in those with poor nutrient intake from diet.
Another study found that 2 months of multivitamin use was able to reduce occurrence of infection in women with chronic fatigue syndrome, among other benefits (6).
4Multivitamin for women use may improve mood and reduce anxiety and stress. A study in 2016 looked at multivitamin supplementation’s effect on mood in older women.
The study found that taking multivitamins for a period of four weeks led to a daily reduction of perceived stress and mental fatigue (7).
A similar study in 2013 by Long & Benton found that multivitamin use improved perceived stress, mild psychiatric symptoms, and mood in healthy people 26. Particularly supplements that were high in B vitamins (8).
5Supplementing with multivitamins may improve memory. A 2012 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that regular supplementation with multivitamins had a significant effect on immediate free recall memory (remembering a list immediately after being told it for example), but not in any other cognitive tests (9).
6Multivitamins for women may help reduce body weight and body fat levels. A study in 2010 looked at the effects of a multivitamin on obese Chinese women. The study found that taking a multivitamin alone, without any exercise or nutrition interventions was enough to help the group drop an average of 8 pounds and induce reductions in waist circumference and fat mass over a period of 26 weeks (10). The placebo group showed a gain in fat mass and a reduced metabolism.
Their cholesterol also improved. Precision Nutrition’s Helen Kollias hypothesised that this was partly due to obese people being deficient in a number of micronutrients, and the weight loss was due to an improvement in gastrointestinal health, increased vitamin D, and an improved metabolism (11).
7Using a multivitamin may help protect eye health. A number of studies have found that multivitamin use has helped reduce the incidence of cataracts among older people. In 2014 a study by Zhao, Li, & Zhu found that there was sufficient evidence that multivitamins reduced the risk of age-related cataracts (12).
There is some debate about whether multivitamins can help prevent another condition, macular degeneration, in the elderly. This is a medical condition which can lead to blurred vision or blindness.
A Cochrane database system review in 2012 found that there was no evidence that multivitamin supplements could prevent age-related macular degeneration (13).
But an update in 2017 found that multivitamins could be effective at slowing down progression of macular degeneration – even if they could not prevent it entirely (14).
8Multivitamins for women can help fight vitamin D deficiency during winter months. Vitamin D is incredibly important for health, with many benefits attached to it.
But people in colder parts of the world can find themselves deficient during the colder months of the year. A study in the UK found that multivitamins that contained Vitamin D and fish oils were able to boost vitamin D levels and prevent hypovitaminosis D (15).
9Multivitamins for women containing Vitamin E may help to reduce hot flashes during menopause. This benefit is debatable, with some studies showing a reduction in hot flashes – such as a 1998 study looking at hot flashes in breast cancer survivors (16).
On the other hand, a study in 2004 found that multivitamin use led to a slight increase in hot flushes (17).
Both studies used a multi-factorial approach, looking at many different factors that can affect hot flash occurrence. Specific research is needed to isolate whether or not multivitamins have a direct effect on menopausal symptoms.
10Multivitamin use might have a small protective benefit against disease. While we outlined numerous studies that found no significant effect of multivitamin use on mortality, research is still ongoing. One study concluded that multivitamin use “may produce a modest protective benefit” against cardiovascular disease (18).
Again, this may be more pronounced in people with poor nutrition. A study in 2006 supports that theory, claiming that multivitamin use may “prevent cancer in individuals with poor or suboptimal nutritional status” (19).
11Multivitamins for women containing folate can help prevent neural tube defects in pregnant women. Neural tube defects are birth defects that affect the brain or spinal cord. An example of neural tube defects is spina bifida which is where a baby’s spine doesn’t develop properly in the womb.
This condition can be caused by a lack of folate, a B vitamin, during the early stages of pregnancy. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate which is often added to processed and packaged foods. Obviously, there are ways to increase folate and folic acid through diet, but this does not always occur.
A study of nearly 18 million births in Brazil from 2001 to 2014 found that after a government-mandated fortification of flours with iron and folic acid, a significant reduction in the number of neural tube defects was seen (20).
The study also stated that supplementation of multivitamins with folic acid before pregnancy was advisable. So taking them while trying to conceive might be a good idea.
Sadly, the populations that are in the most need of multivitamins due to poor nutrition are also the least likely to use them, studies in America and in the United Kingdom have found that social and ethnic factors can determine whether a mother is likely to use multivitamins or not (21, 22, 23, 24).
A study in 2009 found that low-income adults were the least likely to take multivitamins (25).
12Multivitamin for women use may reduce premature births and low birth weights. A 1997 study by Bendich, Mallick, and Leader found that daily use of folic acid and zinc-containing multivitamins could reduce birth defects, low birth rate, and premature births (26).
The study claimed that increasing use among women could save $20 billion in hospital charges, through a reduction in birth complications.
13Multivitamin for women use in HIV/Aids patients who are pregnant can reduce birth complication risk. A study in 2007 by Mehta, and Fawzi found that pregnant women who were HIV-infected were less likely to suffer from “adverse pregnancy outcomes such as fetal loss and low birth weight” when taking a multivitamin (27). In addition, multivitamins containing vitamin A appear to be beneficial for HIV-positive children in reducing all-cause mortality.
The study also found that multivitamin use can slow down HIV progression in people who are in the early stages of the disease.
There are no real side effects to taking multivitamins as such, the main side effects come from accidentally taking too much of individual vitamins or minerals.
1Some studies seem to have found an increase in mortality rate for people who take multivitamins, but there is no causal link found. A study on men in the US found that there was a slight increase in the rate of prostate cancer deaths associated with multivitamin use, but this was only in men who took multivitamins and no other supplements (28).
Men who took multivitamins, as well as Vitamin A, C, or E supplements, did not have an increase in prostate cancer death.
A study on older women found that multivitamins containing iron led to a slight increase in mortality rate, but multivitamins containing calcium reduced mortality rate (29). Neither result has a causal link established, and it is impossible to draw any conclusions.
2Excessive Vitamin C supplementation can lead to diarrhea (30). This is unlikely to happen, as most multivitamins contain around 20-100mg per pill, while the tolerable upper limit of vitamin C is well over 2000. If you took a multivitamin alongside Vitamin C tablets or injections then you may be in trouble.
3Excessive Vitamin D supplementation combined with calcium can lead to kidney stones. A study into vitamin D and its effect on mortality rates, found that when you combine high levels of vitamin D and calcium together there is an increased risk of kidney stone formation, the study was performed on elderly women (31).
As you can see, the side effects of taking multivitamins are practically zero. Yes, there may be a risk of some unpleasant side effects if you combine multivitamin use with high doses of vitamins C or D, but that is not because of the multivitamin itself, that’s just poor dosing.
The evidence that multivitamins have a negative effect on health and increase mortality rate is even less convincing than the studies that found it had a positive effect.
4Multivitamins may not work as well as advertised. A study in 2009 on postmenopausal women found that “multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), or total mortality” (32).
Another study in 2010 found that multivitamin use had no significant effect on the outcome of patients with stage III colon cancer (33).
A 2011 study found that multivitamin use had no effect on mortality from all causes (including CVD and cancer) (34).
5Multivitamins for women containing non-methylated vitamins may not be ideal. It’s estimated that 40% of the world’s population carries at least one of the two variants on the MTHFR gene that codes for methylation, the process that converts vitamins to their usable forms. Different ethnicities have varying chances of a MTHFR variant. For example, it’s estimated that 6% of those of African descent have a double copy of one of the variants, 12-16% of North American Caucasians and 25% of Hispanics. Poor methylation of folate and B12 can lead to high homocysteine levels, B-vitamin anemia, and pregnancy complications among many other health issues (35). Though the research is unclear at this point, some functional medicine practitioners recommend taking methylated vitamins or avoiding synthetic vitamins like folic acid if you have these variants.
6Excessive biotin (vitamin B7) can alter lab results. The FDA released a statement warning the public about biotin found in supplements marketed for hair, skin and nails, B complex and prenatal vitamins could alter a variety of lab tests (36). This could significantly affect whether or not you are diagnosed with a condition and what treatment is started.
Usually 1-2 tablets, capsules or gummies per day is enough for most individuals.
However, because multivitamins are a combination of vitamins (plus some minerals) it is impossible to give a recommended dosage, other than saying take one serving per day. However, we can look at the individual recommended dosages for the different vitamins. All recommended doses come from NHS guidelines from the UK (37). Recommendations from the National Institute of Health (NIH) for the United States may differ. For example, the NIH recommends 4700mg potassium daily, not 3500mg.
Vitamin C (40mg per day)
B1 (0.8mg per day for women), B2 (1.1mg per day for women), B3 (13.2mg per day for women)
B5 (<200mg per day), B6 (1.2mg per day for women), B7 (0.03mg),
B9 folate/folic acid (200mcg per day), B12 (1.5mcg per day)
Vitamin A (0.6mg per day for women), Vitamin D (2000-4000iu per day in winter)
Vitamin E (3mg per day for women), Vitamin K (1mcg per kg of bodyweight).
Potassium (3,500mg per day), selenium (0.06mg per day for women)
Iodine (0.14mg per day), zinc (7mg per day for women)
Calcium (700mg per day), iron (14.8mg per day for women aged 19-50 and 8.7mg for women aged 50+)
Manganese (<4mg per day), and magnesium (270mg per day for women).
Are multivitamins for women necessary? Factors like nutrient-depleted soil, poor food quality and unhealthy food choices can lead to inadequate nutrient intake to support optimal functioning in the human body. A multivitamin may help correct those deficiencies. Research has shown that there does seem to be more benefit for those with current health conditions and with poor diets. So yes, for the majority of people, it appears multivitamins are necessary.
Is it better to take multivitamins in the morning or at night? The answer is it depends on the multivitamin formulation. B vitamins and some herbs are considered energy nutrients. Taking these vitamins at night may interfere with a good night’s sleep. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins meaning they are better absorbed in the presence of fat. Taking your multivitamins with your breakfast or dinner is ideal. Sometimes the best time of day is the just the time you remember!
Should you take women’s multivitamins on an empty stomach? No, they should be taken with food to maximize digestion.
How long does it take a vitamin to work? It depends on the supplement or specific nutrient but most will take a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks to begin to work before the person feels them ‘kick in.’ Vitamin deficiencies also begin to correct around this time. If it’s a mineral, you’re looking at about 90 days before your deficiency is fully amended (assuming your absorption is not compromised).
Do multivitamins give you more energy? Yes, research has clearly shown that B vitamins, like vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, thiamine and niacin support the energy metabolism process.
Do multivitamins cause acne? It is possible that multivitamins can cause acne – specifically the ones containing biotin.
Do multivitamins make you fat? No they will not make you fat. In fact they may do the opposite. However, watch out for multivitamins that have added sugars, the amount may surprise you!
Are multivitamins safe to take for women during pregnancy? Yes, multivitamin consumption during pregnancy is considered safe. Not only is it considered safe, it is highly recommended and encouraged by most healthcare professionals. Though there are many reasons as to why this is the case, generally, women are at higher risk for vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy due to the need to provide for the growing fetus. The use of a multivitamin helps to mitigate any detrimental effects that may be seen as a result of pregnancy.
To determine the best multivitamin to use during pregnancy, it is highly recommended that you contact a trained physician for specific recommendations and advice.
Are multivitamins safe to take while breastfeeding? Yes, multivitamin usage during breastfeeding is also considered to be safe for women. Similar to pregnancy, women who are breastfeeding tend to be at a higher risk of vitamin and nutrient deficiency during this time. As the growing infant consumes more of the mother’s milk, it is understandable that the nutrients redirected to the baby may deprive the mother of the necessary nutrients. Multivitamins have also been shown to increase milk production in some nursing mothers. To ensure your specific health needs are met while breastfeeding, it is important to consult your physician or a trained lactation specialist for both recommendations and advice.
Can multivitamins help regulate hormones during menstrual cycles? Yes, multivitamins for women can be extremely beneficial during monthly menstrual cycles. During the menstrual cycle, hormones within the female body fluctuate. This fluctuation can often cause moodiness, cramps, or other unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms are often related to the changes in the female body and the redirection of vitamins and nutrients needed to complete the menstruation process. Multivitamin use has been shown to assist in preventing the depletion of these vital nutrients and help in improving the overall experience for women during this time.
Can women get adequate multivitamin content from food alone? While there are many ways to obtain vitamins and minerals from natural food sources, women have specific health needs that may need to be addressed through other means. As women need additional calcium and vitamin D to reach optimum health levels, multivitamins act as an additional method to obtain both of these necessary vitamins. Vitamin D could prove extremely difficult to obtain via food as it is not a naturally occurring vitamin in this form. For that reason, women are encouraged to find a multivitamin with heightened levels of vitamin D rather than consuming food that provides it.
The benefits of women’s multivitamins do not seem to be well supported by evidence, however, the risks appear minimal when dosage is not excessive. Prevention of cataracts is indeed a valuable benefit, but there isn’t much evidence to support the use of multivitamins for prevention of other eye diseases. Multivitamins don’t appear to cause an increase or a decrease in mortality rate, and don’t affect cardiovascular disease, cancers, or any metabolic diseases.
When you are following a micronutrient deficient diet, commonly seen in those who are eating a highly processed diet, there does seem to be some benefits to taking multivitamins, but they aren’t huge.
One issue that seems to occur is that many studies compare multivitamins to good diets, which are already high in vitamins. Comparing a diet that was filled with junk food, to a similar diet plus a multivitamin may produce more interesting results, and would reflect the issue that many people have.
Multivitamins for women should be seen as a useful top off for people who have bad diets, but they will never replace a good diet. If you are already eating healthy then a multivitamin is less likely to be of value. What’s worse, is that you may actually be at risk of exceeding your recommended dosage.
Despite the published research that multivitamins are largely ineffective and unhelpful, the more the public seems to buy them.
The exceptions to this (other than people with bad diets) would be women who are attempting to get pregnant, or who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding. Other exceptions include those who take certain medications that can lead to nutrient deficiencies (like in the case of statins and CoQ10) and those with malabsorption diseases.
As usual, talk to your doctor before taking any supplement, but a multivitamin appears to have minimal risks. While a multivitamin for women may be able to address nutrient deficiencies, a balanced, healthy diet provides far more confirmed benefits.