Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that help convert food into energy, shore up your bones, and repair cellular damage. They also boost the immune system and heal wounds.
Our bodies need a slew of these nutrients to ensure optimal health. However, even if you are eating healthy foods regularly, it is possible to fall short.
Multivitamins for women are a great way to optimize your nutrient intake and to make sure you are ingesting the right amount of vitamins and minerals every day. However, the effectiveness of multivitamins will depend on the product, your individual goals, and the consistency of consumption.
In this article, we’ll discuss if you need to take a multivitamin, ingredients that a multivitamin usually includes, and what to look for while choosing one. Let’s get started!
What Is a Multivitamin?
Multivitamins are a popular dietary supplement that was introduced in the US in the 20th century. A multivitamin contains three or more vitamins and minerals, and it doesn’t contain any drugs, hormones, or herbs. They are available in the form of capsules, tablets, liquids, powders, pastilles, and injectable formulations.
The ingredients of a multivitamin differ from brand to brand. However, they generally include:
- Water-soluble B-vitamins: vitamin B1 (thiamin), folic acid, B3 (niacin), B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
- Fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin A (and beta-carotene), D, E, and K
- Minerals: iodine, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, borate, molybdenum, and manganese
Multivitamins are prepared for kids, women, pregnant women, lactating mothers, men, or senior citizens, and supposedly consist of more of the vitamins or minerals that the particular group may need.
What Can Multivitamins Do?
Multivitamins will not dramatically turn you into an incredibly healthy, energetic superwoman. All it can do is to help you cover the nutritional deficiencies in your diet.
Usually, the more a food item is processed, the more it is deficient in nutrients. Multivitamins provide us with what processing eliminates from our food. They work like a safety net to make sure we are consuming plenty of essential vitamins and minerals.
How Do Multivitamins Benefit Women?
Although multivitamins are particularly advantageous for women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive, women who are picky eaters, following vegan diets, going through high levels of stress, or traveling frequently can also benefit from multivitamins. If you’re a woman thinking about taking multivitamins every day, you might want to consider:
1. Increase Energy Levels
Our bodies have to work harder to do simple activities when we are deficient in vitamins and minerals. This may cause fatigue and other health issues. Moreover, we need potassium to maintain and improve basic cell functioning. Taking daily multivitamins can provide you with all the nutrients to keep you fit and energetic.
2. Prevent Serious Birth Abnormalities
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to take supplements containing more folic acid. Low levels of folic acid can cause serious birth abnormalities affecting the spine or brain of the infant.
3. Maintain Muscle Strength
Free radicals are the main reason behind muscle aging-related issues. Taking a daily dose of multivitamins containing antioxidants like beta-carotene can keep these harmful free radicals in check.
4. Prevent Osteoporosis
Your bone mass reduces with your increasing age, and you need more calcium to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Based on how old you are, you require 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium every day. Multivitamins with calcium can help you meet this daily requirement.
5. Improve Mood
Vitamins improve the brain activities responsible for our mood. Therefore, daily multivitamins can have a positive impact on your mood and emotional well-being.
6. Decrease Anxiety and Stress
Our bodies use B vitamins to maintain the proper functions of the nervous system and to produce and secrete stress hormones. Therefore, the vitamins and minerals present in your daily multivitamin can remarkably decrease your level of anxiety and stress.
7. Maintain Daily Dose of Vitamin D
As we age, our ability to turn sunlight into vitamin D decreases. But without vitamin D, our body can not utilize calcium. Moreover, when we use sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin cancer, we shut out a great amount of vitamin D that we could receive from simply being outside in the sun. Taking a multivitamin that contains both vitamin D and calcium can help compensate for this loss.
8. Prevent Anemia
If you are still menstruating, you need to ensure that you have a sufficient amount of iron to reduce the risk of anemia. However, if you are a post-menopausal woman, you do not need much iron. Therefore, unless you are recommended to take an iron supplement by a doctor, choose multivitamins that do not contain iron.
9. Better Memory
Taking supplements of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, can greatly boost cognitive function, improve memory, and protect your brain. B vitamins also have a great impact on maintaining short-term memory function.
10. Cover Malabsorption Conditions
Any condition that impedes normal digestion can lead to poor absorption of one or multiple nutrients. For instance:
- Diseases like cystic fibrosis, celiac, or ulcerative colitis
- Illnesses causing excess diarrhea or vomiting
- Surgeries removing parts of digestive organs, like a Whipple procedure involving different digestive organs, or undergoing a gastric bypass for weight loss
- Excessive alcoholism (prevents absorption of several B vitamins)
A daily multivitamin supplement can ensure daily requirements of nutrients to fight against these malabsorption conditions.
11. Alter the Effects of Certain Medications
Proton pump inhibitors, prescribed for heartburn and acid reflux, can impair the absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, and magnesium. Some diuretics, generally prescribed to reduce blood pressure, can drain the body’s store of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Carbidopa and levodopa, prescribed for Parkinson’s disease, can decrease the absorption of B vitamins such as folate, B6, B12, etc. Multivitamin supplements are required to alter the effects of these medications.
Are There Any Risks of Multivitamins?
The biggest argument against the use of a multivitamin is that it can cause a somewhat excessive intake of some nutrients. Water-soluble vitamins such as folic acid, B12, etc. can be excreted through urine if you consume too much of them. But fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, or K and iron can be stored and accumulated in the body and can be toxic at excessive levels.
Therefore, be careful of products that supply way more than the daily value for different vitamins and minerals and ensure to check the ingredients present in your other supplements to avoid excess intakes. A multivitamin will not hold the full daily value for all the vitamins and minerals as you would end up with a pill too large to swallow.
Also, make sure to check in with your doctor before taking multivitamins as some vitamins can impede the absorption of other medications or nutrients and can lead to several health issues. Consulting your doctor is also important to find out which multivitamins are most suitable for you.
How to Choose Multivitamins
If you are confident that you can be benefited from multivitamins, consider the following features when choosing a multivitamin for you:
Some multivitamins are appropriate for women up to 49 years of age, and some are appropriate for women aged 50 years or older as different products target different age groups.
Some companies include certifications listed on their website as evidence that the dosage and ingredients of their products are correct.
You can check the ingredient list on company websites and product labels. You can also find out if the supplements are vegan-friendly and gluten-free if you follow a vegan diet, and check if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the formula.
Some brands or companies do not supply their products in bottles. They ship supplements in pouches with the right daily dosage.
5. Health Conditions
Different products target different conditions as they support prenatal and menstrual health, blood, brain, and bone among others. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving the required nutrients.
Multivitamins are available in a wide range of budgets.
The Bottom Line
Do not forget that multivitamins are not a replacement for a healthy balanced diet. The prime purpose of multivitamins is to fill the nutritional gaps. They can only supply a hint of the vast array of vitamins and minerals found in food naturally. However, their role can not be denied when nutritional requirements can not be met through diet alone. Also, keep in mind that a fancy brand name is never necessary. Even standard store brands can deliver amazing results. Simply look for the one bearing the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval on the label and containing the recommended daily allowance amounts, and you are good to go!