The best multivitamin for women changes with time and depends on a woman's age, life stage, and health. Vitamins recommended for a young pregnant woman and those designed for an older, menopausal lady are vastly different.
Why Use a Multivitamin?
If you've ever visited the supplement section of your drugstore, you've no doubt noticed an abundance of single vitamin or nutrient products. You can find everything from calcium and magnesium to vitamin B12 and zinc as a stand-alone product. With so many products available, each one claiming to eradicate a long list of symptoms, why bother to use a multivitamin at all?
The truth is, it's difficult to pinpoint a vitamin deficiency based on symptoms alone. For example, numbness and tingling can sometimes be caused by a Vitamin B12 deficiency, but they can also be caused by depleted magnesium. Of course, it could also be caused by an underlying disease, such as MS or a thyroid disorder. Taking a single vitamin to treat symptoms could just postpone a proper diagnosis.
Rather than attempting to treat individual symptoms with single vitamins, it's better to determine the best multivitamin for women in your stage of life. This gives you well-rounded nutrition, providing optimal health and wellbeing. If you still find yourself with unusual symptoms even after following a healthy diet and taking a well-rounded vitamin, it's time to visit your doctor to rule out illness.
Choosing the Best Multivitamin
When selecting your multivitamin, you'll want to look for one that offers close to 100 percent of the daily recommended value (RDA) for most, if not all, of the essential nutrients. One exception is calcium. While you do need adequate amounts of calcium, it just isn't possible to put 100 percent of your daily amount in a single pill. This is a general guideline for women with no special needs. Below you'll find additional suggestions for women in specific life stages. If you have special health considerations, such as a disease or disorder, check with your physician for nutritional advice.
Best Multivitamin for Women of Childbearing Years
While in menstruating, childbearing years, you should look to the future in your vitamin and supplement choices. For example, adequate calcium intake now may help guard against osteoporosis and bone loss later. Do you intend to have children? If so, look for vitamins with at least 400 mcg of folic acid.
In addition, women who are still menstruating need vitamins that have added iron to replace that lost through bleeding. This is especially important for women with heavy or prolonged bleeding or those with menstrual disorders such as endometriosis. Effective multivitamins with adequate amounts of iron for menstruating women include:
- Centrum A to Z
- One a Day Women's Formula
- Nature Made for Her
Best Multivitamin for Pregnant and Lactating Women
When it comes to nutritional needs, pregnant women are in a class all their own. It comes as no surprise that pregnant women need higher levels of folic acid (at least 600 mcg daily), but they also need increased beta-carotene. This helps guard against birth defects such as spina bifida.
Since a breastfeeding mom must still make nutritional choices based on what's best for baby, folic acid and beta-carotene are still important. Based on their levels of folic acid, beta-carotene, and other essential nutrients, the following are excellent vitamin choices for pregnant and lactating women:
- Stuart Prenatal
- GNC Prenatal
- Century Prenatal
Best Multivitamin for Post Menopausal Women
After menstruation ceases, women no longer need added iron. In fact, some studies show a link between high levels of iron and heart disease. For this reason, menopausal women should look for multivitamins without iron.
In addition, senior women should be careful about the level of Vitamin A. Anything more than 100 percent RDA may contribute to fractures. Just as with pregnant women, beta-carotene is a safer form of Vitamin A.
So, what should vitamins for post-menopausal women contain? Increased Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and calcium are all critical components of an effective senior women's formula. Some multivitamins made especially for seniors include:
- One a Day
- Centrum Silver