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Why take a multivitamin?

In their revised 3rd edition of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine”, Dr. Michael Murray N.D. and Dr. Joseph Pizzorno N.D. offer this advice: “USDA nationwide food consumption studies…have revealed that marginal nutrient deficiencies exist in a substantial portion of the U.S. population (approximately 50%) and that for some selected nutrients, more than 80% of people in certain age groups consumed less than the Reference Daily Intake." What if you are eating a “good” diet with whole foods and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? They continue: “A sad fact is that conventionally grown foods do not contain as high a concentration of nutrients today as they did in the past. For example, one study showed that vitamin levels have decreased by as much as 37% from 1950 to 19991 and another found that trace minerals have dropped by as much as 77% from 1940 to 1991.2 Their final advice quotes from biochemist Dr. Roger Williams: “healthy people should use multiple vitamin and mineral supplements as and ‘insurance policy’ against possible deficiency.”

What form is best for multivitamins?

You will have to decide what form works best for you. The first thing to consider is what you can swallow. Tablets? Capsules? Powders/liquids? That’s the usual order in digestibility and ease of swallowing. A tip for swallowing tablets and capsules is to tip your head back when taking tablets (so they slide down) but tip your head forward when taking capsules (the air in capsules makes them float toward the back of the throat.) Here are some other things to consider:

Tablets are a problem for some. If they have lots of good ingredients per serving, they will either be larger or more numerous per serving—so look for smaller tablets and smooth coatings.

Capsules are not compressed like tablets and so are easier to digest as they are in a powdered state. However, 500 mg in one tablet may require two capsules for the same delivery.

Powders are a solution for some, but the texture, taste or smell—especially of B vitamins—may be off-putting. Try combining your multi powder with a smoothie (after most of the blending is done) or healthy beverage that has strong flavors to mask the B vitamins.

What makes a good women's multivitamin?

Superior products in this category usually require 1-2 tablets/capsules taken 2-3 times daily with meals for better absorption. They may contain “body ready” forms of B vitamins (technically called “co-enzyme” forms.) With allowance for those who take additional supplements of nutrients, vitamin levels should be at least 400 IU of vitamin D-3 along with vitamin K2, nutrients found in lycopene, and lutein/zeaxanthin blends to support eye health.

Don't forget the minerals! Women's multis should contain more than just traces of macro-minerals such as of magnesium and calcium and should include immune supportive nutrients such as selenium. Unless you are a post-menopausal woman diagnosed with iron anemia or are a strict vegetarian, a Women’s 50+ formula generally should not contain iron since women who do not menstruate need little dietary iron and it is readily available in red meat. Excess iron can be a pro-oxidant (the opposite of an antioxidant) which can create harmful oxidation in the body and possibly iron overload if diagnosed with hemochromatosis.

1. Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999

2. A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements (View our Site Disclaimer)

We recommend any of the five products listed below equally and so present our choices in alphabetical order by brand. We do not receive any compensation in exchange for our recommendations. Read more about how we make our selections.

Bluebonnet Iron-free Multi One

Bluebonnet® Iron-Free MultiONE®

A whole line of one-a-day capsuled multis and minerals in superior forms. Chose for men, women, with and without iron.

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MultiOne® multis include a full list of B-Complex vitamins, better absorbing Albion® chelated minerals, Advanced Nutrition Amino Acid Complex, and includes choline bitartrate, inositol, and lutein.

Bluebonnet’s MultiOne® Formula is a single daily multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplement in an easy-to-swallow, two-piece vegetable capsule (Vcap) and is formulated with highly efficient, patented Albion® chelated minerals and popular carotenoids, such as natural beta-carotene and FloraGLO® lutein from 100% natural marigold extract. Gluten Free and Kosher Parve.

Natural Factors Women's Plus Multistart

Natural Factors® Women's Plus MultiStart®

This versatile three-a-day, no-iron formula is loaded with superior ingredients replacing separate calcium, vitamin E and C tablets in 90 and 180 counts.

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High potency combination of basic vitamins, better absorbed citrate minerals — especially 500 mg calcium, 150 mg magnesium, 200 IU Vitamin D-3 for bone health, and many trace minerals, plus nutrients to support immunity, eyes and digestion, and a whopping 295 mg of herb concentrates, like 40 mg of ginkgo; to support general and 50+ female health.

Some of many key nutrients in serving size of 3 tablets/day: Amount Per Serving/% Daily Value

Vitamin A (as 25% vitamin A palmitate & 75% as beta carotene) 10,000 IU/200%

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 300 mg/500%

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) 200 IU/50%

Vitamin E natural form (as d-alpha tocopheryl acid succinate) 100 IU/333%

Folic Acid 400 mcg/100%

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 400 mcg/6667%

Calcium (as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate) 500 mg/50%

Magnesium (oxide & citrate) 150 mg/38%

Zinc (citrate) 7.5 mg/50%

Selenium (chelate) 50 mcg/71%

Lutein (Tagetes erecta) (marigold flowers) 0.5 mg

TARGETED HERBS: 295mg

Ginger extract 4:1 (root) 50 mg

Citrus Powder (Citrus limonum, C. sinensis, C paradisi) (fruit) 50 mg

Ginkgo biloba Phytosome (leaf) (soy) 40 mg

Fennel extract (4:1) (seed) 30 mg

Licorice extract (4:1) (root) 30 mg

Alfalfa Juice powder (12:1) (aerial) 25 mg

Spirulina algae powder (Arthrospira platensis) 25 mg

Wheat Grass Juice (Triticum aestivum) (leaf) 25 mg

Black Cohosh extract (4:1) (root) 20 mg

DIGESTIVE AIDS:

Glutamic Acid HCL 25 mg

Betaine HCL 25 mg

Natural Factors Whole Earth and Sea Women's Multis

Natural Factors® Whole Earth and Sea® Women's Multis

A vegetarian-friendly line of multis for women of whole food based nutrients derived from Natural Factors® own farms and processing labs. Measurable nutrients, all from verified non—GMO sources, no known contaminants or heavy metals, and species verified herbs and plants.

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Highlights are: Vitamin K2 from MK7/Natto, co-enzyme/body ready forms of b-vitamins, superior absorbing mineral forms and trace minerals, lutein, lycopene, many concentrated extracts fruits and vegetables from land and sea.

Vitamin A† (natural beta-carotene from algae) (Dunaliella salina) (whole) 10,000 IU

Vitamin C† (organic amla, mixed ascorbates) (Phyllanthus emblica) (fruit) 90 mg

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, lichen) (whole) 1000 IU

Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol from sunflower seed oil) 30 IU

Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone-7) (MK-7) (natto bean) 80 mcg

Thiamin† (benfotiamine) (lipid-soluble form of vitamin B1) 3.2 mg

Riboflavin† (riboflavin-5'-phosphate) 2.5 mg

Niacin† (inositol hexanicotinate) 25 mg

Vitamin B6† (pyridoxal-5'-phosphate) 2.5 mg

Folate† (from (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid (MTHF), glucosamine salt, Quatrefolic®) 800 mcg

Vitamin B12† (methylcobalamin) 400 mcg

Pantothenic Acid† (pantethine) 10 mg

Calcium† (organic algae, calcium ascorbate) (Mesophyllum superpositum) (whole) 50 mg

Women's Formula Only: Iron† (ferrous bisglycinate chelate) 20 mg

Iodine† (kelp) (ascophyllum nodosum) (whole) 150 mcg

Magnesium† (citrate, malate, succinate, glycinate, aspartate, ascorbate) 25 mg

Zinc† (picolinate) 15 mg

Selenium† (sprouted garlic, selenomethionine) (Allium sativum) (bulb) 100 mcg

Copper† (bisglycinate) 1 mg

Manganese† (citrate, malate, succinate, glycinate, aspartate, ascorbate) 2.5 mg

Chromium† (picolinate) 400 mcg

Lutein† (Tagetes erecta) (marigold flower) 2 mg

Lycopene† (Lycopersicum esculentum) (tomato fruit) 2 mg

Boron† (citrate) 1.5 mg

Natural Mixed Carotenoids† (alpha-carotene, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin & lutein from algae) (Dunaliella salina) (whole) 350 mcg

†Nutrients are part of Farm Fresh Factors™ Our Farm Fresh Factors™ starts with 200 grams of fresh raw plants, processed using our EnviroSimplex® method to retain and intensify the total goodness of whole food into rich living food: Active Vegetables - organic kale (leaf) organic alfalfa (aerial), organic cilantro (leaf), organic parsley (aerial), caper (berry), organic artichoke (leaf), organic black radish (root), barley grass, cayenne pepper (leaf), organic celery (seed), organic beet (root), organic tomato; Cruciferous Vegetables - wasabi (rhizome) and fresh freeze-dried sprouted broccoli (aerial), organic upland cress (leaf), daikon (root), red radish (root), organic cauliflower (aerial), organic cabbage (leaf), organic arugula (leaf), organic watercress (leaf), sprouted garlic (bulb); Whole Fruit Ultra Polyphenols - grape, pomegranate, strawberry, organic cranberry, organic blueberry, raspberry, bilberry, organic Indian gooseberry (phyllanthus emblica), schizandra berry, red orange, organic acai berry; Herbals and Plants - Theracurmin® (curcuma longa) (root), organic decaffeinated green tea (leaf), organic milk thistle (seed), organic ginger (rhizome), organic echinacea (aerial), marigold flower, organic dandelion (root), organic oregano (aerial), organic peppermint (aerial), organic spearmint (aerial); Whole Plant Sea Vegetables - organic spirulina, organic chlorella, red algae, blue green algae, Dunaliella salina, kelp.

Nature's Way Alive! Women's Gummies

Nature's Way® Alive!® Women's Premium Gummies

While most gummy multis have very few nutrients per serving, Alive!® has respectable amounts of 15 vitamins/minerals in three gummies per serving.

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16 Vitamins/Minerals with Lutein. Full B Vitamin Complex with 100% more of two B Vitamins. Orchard Fruits™ and Garden Veggies™ Powder Blend (200 mg Per Serving).

Vitanica Women's Symmetry

Vitanica® Women's Symmetry®

This line of multiples is formulated by eminent health researcher Dr. Tori Hudson N.D, a practicing physician and teaching professor on women’s health at several naturopathic colleges and universities. Her multiples are targeted for women ages 20-40, 50-65 and over 65.

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For women 20-40 see Women’s Symmetry®, iron-free, 3 caps-a-day, delivering high vitamin C, calcium and all other supportive nutrients. Additional antioxidant support from CoQ10 and lutein.

For women 50-60 see Vitanica Mid-Life Symmetry®, 3 caps-a-day delivering better aborbed calcium, higher levels of folic acid, vitamin D and E, more energy and stress support from theanine and green tea, plus digestive aids.

For women 65+ see Vitanica Senior Symmetry®, 3 caps-a-day delivering 300 mg of better aborbed calciums, acid-free vitamin C, plus herb support from rhodiola, ginkgo and bilberry fruit.

Also see Fem-Teen Symmetry®, Maternal Symmetry® and Immune Symmetry®.

Women’s Senior Symmetry® 65+ includes:

  • • Only natural mixed carotenoids—no synthetic beta carotene
  • • Buffered vitamin C that’s gentler on the stomach
  • • Citrate/malate forms of calcium optimize calcium absorption as we age
  • • Botanical support from: rhodiola, ginkgo and bilberry fruit
  • • Additional antioxidant support from CoQ10 and lutein
  • • Plant-based digestive enzymes are included to promote digestion and absorption of dietary constituents and supplemental nutrients

How We Choose Our Top 5 Supplements

Ingredients with measurable efficacy: Some supplement ingredients have had decades of scientific study and thousands of published studies describing their measurable efficacy and benefits to human nutrition. But some are only recently showing up on the market and have little science to explain their properties. Since you can't buy or try everything, we recommend products with studied ingredients.

Added value/complementary nutrients: Much of the cost of supplements is in their packaging, so if a product contains several complementary ingredients for its intended benefit, then we usually recommend that product over a single ingredient product. The exception is a single ingredient product that has special recognition as superior to similar but less effective products.

Different forms (tablets, powders, etc.): Some people just hate to take pills of any kind. So, when there’s a chewable, liquid, powder or gummy option that’s effective, we may also recommend those products.

Good manufacturing practices and reputation: There has been an explosion of supplement brands in the last 10 years. Many of these brands live only online and have ownership outside of USA regulations or ownership whose identity is sometimes hard to determine. We recommend companies that have made and marketed supplements for many decades in the USA and have earned good reputations for closely following FDA, GMP, and FTC guidelines, submitting to protocols that verify purity and potency and refraining from misleading product claims.

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