The human body needs micronutrients at all stages of life. As we age, however, some of these needs become more pressing.
And so the best multivitamin for women over 50 should:
- Contain the essential vitamins and minerals needed for human flourishing
- Prioritize certain nutrients (like vitamins D and B12) to prevent age-related deficiencies
Still, questions remain. Can’t you meet your micronutrient needs through diet? What’s the deal with calcium? What should you look for in a supplement? And which products pass the bar?
We’ll answer all your burning questions soon. Keep reading.
The Importance of Micronutrients
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals your body requires in small (micro) amounts. They don’t provide calories like macros, but they do grease the machinery that keeps your body functioning.
Consider three examples:
- Folate. Folate (vitamin B9) aids in energy production and DNA repair. If a woman is folate-deficient during pregnancy, the risk of birth defects rises.[*]
- Iron. Iron deficiency can cause anemia (low red blood cells), fetal development issues, and complications during pregnancy.[*] Premenopausal women need more iron to replace what’s lost through menstruation.
- Magnesium. Magnesium supports over 300 reactions in the human body. Without it, you couldn’t produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the energy coin that powers all cells.[*]
The list could go on for another 25 micros (give or take), but you have other plans today which may or may not include clipping your toenails. So let’s agree micros are important and move on.
Getting Your Micros from Food
When possible, seek to get your vitamins and minerals from food. There are several reasons to follow this principle.
It’s also hard to over-do dietary micros. Unless you’re eating polar bear liver[*], you’re unlikely to develop vitamin A toxicity without supplementing.
Finally, a whole foods diet contains many fibers, antioxidants, fatty acids, and other compounds difficult (if not impossible) to supplement. Supplements, therefore, should supplement your whole foods diet—not replace it.
Nutrient Needs for Women Over 50
Women over 50 need the same micronutrients as everyone else. Check out our micronutrients guide to learn:
- Which nutrients we need (and what doses we need them in)
- The difference between micros and macros
- How to track micronutrient intake with Carb Manager
Three micros, though, deserve more attention for women over 50.
#1: Vitamin B12
As we age, our stomach acid production tails off. Unfortunately, less stomach acid means less B12 is absorbed from food.
The symptoms of B12 deficiency include anemia, brain fog, neuropathy, and other neurological issues.[*] Taking a B12 supplement is a safe and effective way to prevent these problems.
#2: Vitamin D
German research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is more common in older folks.[*] Why? Perhaps because seniors tend to get less sunlight, the best natural source of vitamin D.
Age aside, up to 50% of the world’s population may be vitamin D deficient.[*] For folks without access to high-UVB sunlight (far Northern latitudes, for instance), a vitamin D supplement is essential.
Postmenopausal women are at higher risk of osteoporosis due to falling estrogen levels.[*] Should they take a calcium pill to support bone density?
Perhaps not. A 2021 meta-analysis linked calcium supplements to a 15% higher heart disease risk in postmenopausal women.[*] You may be swapping one risk for another.
Look to get your calcium from diet instead. Good sources include milk, sardines (or other canned fish), and cruciferous vegetables.
What To Look for In a Supplement
How should you choose a supplement? Consider these criteria.
- Brand reputation. Look for brands like Thorne, Pure Encapsulations, and others recommended by doctors and scientists.
- Micronutrient dose and form. Too much (or too little) of any micronutrient can be problematic. The form of certain nutrients (like B12) matters too! The multivitamins in the next section all pass the smell test here.
- Quality testing. Is the supplement third-party tested and made under the FDA’s good manufacturing practices (GMPs)? Has it been tested and verified by Consumer Labs?
- Ingredients. Look for products free of artificial colors, fillers, and other junk.
Okay, let’s talk about specific vitamins for women over 50 now.
Top Multivitamins and Supplements for Women Over 50
Despite the marketing efforts of some brands, women over 50 don’t need a “special” multivitamin. They just need a well-formulated option.
Here are some products to consider, along with a few other supplements.
- Thorne Basic Nutrients 2/Day. A balanced multivitamin that’s easy to scale down (by taking one daily) if you have a nutrient-dense diet.
- Pure Encapsulations ONE Multivitamin. ONE is like the Thorne supplement with added CoQ10 to support heart health.
- New Chapter Every Woman’s One Daily 55+. New Chapter is a reputable brand that uses natural, gentle ingredients. Nothing fancy here, but all the nutrients you need.
Other Supplements for Women Over 50
- Jarrow Vitamin D3 5000 IU. This dosage is designed to bring vitamin D levels up. To maintain vitamin D levels, consider 1000 to 2000 IU per day. (Also, be sure to add in the D from your multivitamin and evaluate the effects of sunlight. The best plan? Measure your vitamin D once yearly—you’re looking for between 40 and 60 nmol/L—and supplement accordingly[*].)
- Jarrow Methyl B12 5000 mcg. This sublingual B12 supplement bypasses digestion for enhanced absorption.
- Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for Women 50 and Wiser. A potent probiotic to support digestive and immune health.
Other Ways to Support Healthy Aging
They don’t make a pill that mimics a good night’s sleep, a morning jog, or a meditation practice. For now, at least, these habits are up to you.
But that doesn’t mean supplements don’t matter. Bringing your vitamin D levels up, for example, can do wonders for your health.[*]
So get the basics handled, then optimize your supplement routine. That’s a solid plan for healthy aging.
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