For years I have been meaning to write about how to pick the best multivitamin for women. I probably would have continued to procrastinate had it not been for discovering I have a significant vitamin D deficiency.
The thing is, I was supplementing with 5,000 IU’s of vitamin D at the time I discovered my deficiency. And yes, I was completely baffled as to how my deficiency occurred.
There’s a LOT of science and research involved in the next several paragraphs. However, if you just want the best multivitamin for women suggestions, just skip to the bottom.
How to Choose the Best Multivitamin for Women
Here are a few of the main questions we get about choosing the best multivitamin for women. Then, I’ll tell you the bet way to choose multivitamins and our 3 favorite brands.
If I eat clean, do I still need a multivitamin?
Yes! A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that all adults take a multivitamin everyday. Think of your multivitamin supplement as a daily insurance policy. It’s one of the simplest, most important, least expensive ways to improve your overall health.
A multi-vitamin is absolutely NOT a replacement for real food. A multivitamin will help you fill nutrient gaps, optimize energy, improve brain function, help prevent disease and slow aging. To learn more about eating clean here at Clean Cuisine, check out our clean eating definition.
How do I choose the multivitamin that is right for me?
At your natural foods store, you will be bombarded with a plethora of multivitamin supplements lining the shelves. So, choose the best multivitamin for women is where your focus needs to be.
You might just be tempted to buy the one that contains the most “stuff”. It is important to realize that if you are choosing the best multivitamin for women, more is not always best.
Taking a multi-vitamin supplement is designed to complement a clean eating diet, but you don’t want to go overboard. Getting an excess of certain nutrients-such as iron, selenium and copper-can be toxic.
Aren’t all multivitamin supplements the same?
No. All multivitamin supplements are not created equal. In most cases, you get what you pay for.
Cheap and mass-marketed multivitamins are often made with cheap ingredients, some of which can cause more harm than good. It would be impossible to list every single thing you should look for on a multi-vitamin label. However, I have identified 5 key things to focus your search on.
5 Tips to Choosing the Best Multivitamin for Women
These are the 5 things below you want to look for when trying to buy the best multivitamin for women. Again, just because your multivitamin has these 5 things does NOT ensure it is superior quality. We’ll explain more when you get to the importance of 3rd party testing. But, it’s good to know that you can rule out any that don’t have these 5 things.
#1. Natural Vitamin E and a full-spectrum of tocopherols and tocotrienols
You definitely do NOT want a multivitamin that contains synthetic forms of vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol). Ideally, you don’t even want one that contains just one of the natural forms of vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol).
Ideally, you want the vitamin E in your multivitamin to reflect the way vitamin E is found in real food. This in the form of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. At the very least you want one that contains vitamin E in the form of natural d-alpha tocopherol.
#2 Either Mixed Carotenoids OR no Beta-Carotene
Research has linked taking isolated beta-carotene to increased risk of lung cancer (in smokers anyway). However, isolated beta-carotene is not something you would ever find in nature in your food. In food, you would obtain mixed carotenes.
Mixed Carotenes is exactly what you want to look for in a supplement. If your supplement contains any carotenes then you want it to be in the form of mixed carotenes. Otherwise, it’s best to not have any carotene in your supplement.
#3 Choose L-Methylfolate & Methylcobalamin
You also want to avoid supplements containing synthetic folic acid. Instead look for one containing a methylated folate (in the form of methylfolate) which is the form your body can best absorb and utilize.
The same goes for vitamin B12. Avoid supplements containing vitamin B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin. Instead look for ones containing vitamin B12 in the form of methycobalamin.
Recommendations on L-Methylfolate and Methylcobalamin are especially important for individuals with the MTHFR gene mutation. More on this in a minute.
#4. A Little Bit of Iodine
Unless seaweed is a staple in your daily diet, food sources of iodine are scarce. In fact, it’s thought up to 40 percent of the population is at risk of iodine deficiency. Dr. Brownstein, a family practitioner board certified in holistic medicine who has been researching iodine for over two decades. He found that over 95 percent of the patients in his clinic are iodine deficient. Approximately 74% of normal, “healthy” adults may no longer consume enough iodine.
Most people associate iodine with optimizing the health of the thyroid. Iodine is a critical nutrient for the production of many other hormones in your body. An iodine deficiency can wreck serious havoc on your health. Iodine is also one of those key raw materials that help the body safely and naturally detox.
It is always best to get your nutrients from real food. But, the whole idea behind this blog post is how to choose the best multivitamin for women filling a nutritional gaps.
You want to make sure your multi-vitamin contains a small amount of iodine. This takes into considering that a large number of people could use more iodine. Considering that a good number of popular but lower-quality multi-vitamins do not contain it.
#5. Balance of Fat Soluble Vitamins A, D & K
Balancing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K is also critical. This is because when you take one fat-soluble vitamin, you increase your body’s need for the other fat-soluble vitamins.
For example, one of the roles of vitamin D is to activate osteoblasts (bone-building cells) to increase bone density. While one of the roles of vitamin A is to promote bone breakdown so that new bone can be laid down. Although these processes seem to oppose each other, they are both necessary to maintain bone health. Vitamins A and D work closely together, and if you take one you need to take the other.
There is an intimate relationship between fat-soluble vitamins and they all play a vital role in optimizing health. Mainstream foods do not supply adequate amounts of vitamins A, D or K2, so supplementation is especially important.
Vitamin D3 is four times more potent than the synthetic vitamin D2 typically found in low-quality multivitamins. However, most multivitamin supplements do not contain the optimal dosage of the important fat soluble nutrients K2 or D3. It is important to note that most multivitamins do however usually contain enough vitamin A.
Note: Every other day I currently supplement my multi-vitamin with 5,000 IU of Klaire Labs brand vitamin D3.
More About Vitamin D3 and K2
Additionally, the vast majority of multivitamin and multi-mineral supplements only contain vitamin K1. Which is rather easy to get from a healthy diet, rather than vitamin K2. K2 is extremely important for heart health and bone health, but not at all easy to get from a healthy diet.
Vitamin K1 is primarily responsible for blood clotting. Whereas, vitamin K2 is responsible for driving calcium into bones and keeping calcium out of arteries, veins and soft tissue. Atherosclerosis is a build-up of calcium-laden plaque that clogs the coronary heart arteries, or any artery in the body.
The Importance of K2
Vitamin K2 is so important for heart health. The Rotterdam Study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that this single vitamin reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by an incredible 50 percent. Which was also associated with a reduced risk of dying from all causes. In this study, vitamin K1 had no effect. Another study conducted in 2009 showed similar results. Vitamin K2 also plays a key role in keeping teeth strong, veins healthy and skin smooth and wrinkle-free.
The Importance of D3
Although most multivitamins for women vitamin D, they often contain way too little. Also, as mentioned above, it is super important to make sure the vitamin D you are getting is in the form of vitamin D3. This is the most absorb-able form, rather than the synthetic form of D2.
Like vitamin K2, vitamin D3 is also limited in the food supply. These vitamins are found in relatively few sources-fatty fish, egg yolks and certain mushrooms. Note: Dairy foods do not naturally contain Vitamin D, they are artificially fortified.
Understanding Vitamin D-deficiency
It is certainly true your skin cells can manufacture vitamin D when they are exposed directly to the sun. However, vitamin D-deficiency is estimated to affect more than 70 percent of us.
Calcium often gets all the credit for building strong bones, but your body must have vitamin D in order to absorb calcium from foods. Vitamin K2 is also a critical bone-building nutrient. It guides the calcium into your bones where it is needed… and away from your arteries where you don’t want it!
Balancing D3 with K2
Many health-conscious consumers are aware of the important role vitamin D plays in disease-prevention. Therefore, they often supplement their multi-vitamins with additional vitamin D. However, it is super important to note that taking vitamin D will increase your need for vitamin K2. So, it is important to make sure you take BOTH fat-soluble vitamins and not just cherry pick one or the other.
The Best Multivitamin for Women with MTHFR
MTHFR-what?!? If you have not yet heard of this one, please stay with me while I try to explain.
Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase, (MTHFR), is an enzyme that works as a catalyst for biochemical reactions in your body. The main action of the MTHFR enzyme is to convert synthetic folic acid and dietary folate into its active form.
60% of the Population Carries the MTHFR Mutation
It is estimated that approximately 60% of the population carry a mutation of their MTHFR gene. This includes the vast majority of people with an autoimmune disease. Individuals with the MTHFR gene mutation have a reduced capacity to create L-methylfolate and thus a reduced ability to methylate.
When optimal methylation occurs, it has a significant positive impact on many biochemical reactions in the body. It helps with the following areas. DNA production, Neurotransmitter production, Detoxification, Histamine metabolism, Estrogen metabolism, Eye health, Fat metabolism, Cellular energy, Liver health.
When optimal methylation does NOT occur that the body is compromised in all of the areas listed above.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of nutrition supplements contain the synthetic (or “man-made”) folic acid. It is not common to find the L-methylfolate form that your body uses best. Even more concerning, if you happen to have the MTHFR gene mutation then your body cannot properly utilize the synthetic form of folic acid.
Centrum is a good example of a popular, but low-quality multi-vitamin that contains synthetic folic acid. If your body cannot utilize the synthetic form of folic acid then it can actually build up in your body and potentially become hazardous.
Choose Methylated Forms of Folate
But here’s the important part: Whether you have the MTHFR gene mutation or not, the safest thing to do is to avoid supplements containing folic acid. Look for the best multivitamin for women by choosing the L-Methylfolate form of folate, which is the form everyone’s body can use best.
Choose Methylated forms of b12
If you are trying to select the best multivitamin for women, it is also important to make sure that the ingredients label lists B12 in the form of methylcobalamin rather than the cheap, synthetic and slightly-toxic inactive form of B12 (cyanocobalamin) used most frequently in low-quality multi-vitamins. Both folate and B-12 work synergistically, so you need to take both together for best results.
The Importance of Third Party Testing
I think most people these days are aware that the 30 billion dollar a year supplement industry is not regulated. In other words, your vitamin supplement bottle may CLAIM it contains 5,000 IU’s of vitamin D3 but who knows if it even has any? Even worse, what if it contains a potentially toxic 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D? The point is, a vitamin deficiency can be equally as harmful as a vitamin overload and if you have no idea what is REALLY in your vitamin bottle then you could potentially be at risk for either a deficiency or an overload.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of either buying your supplements directly from your physician (because physician’s have access to high quality supplement brands) or buying one of the third party tested supplements I have included below.
The 3 Best Multivitamin for Women Brands
So, after taking ALL of the above into consideration, here are the three best multi-vitamin brands below I have found that I recommend. Also, please be sure to see the additional supplements I take listed at the end of this blog post.
This is a clinical-strength broad-spectrum multi-vitamin (and micronutrient) formula that is backed by independent, peer-reviewed research studies and is recommended by physicians worldwide to enhance mood, mental clarity, and behavior in patients. If you suffer with any mental health issues, Hardy Nutritionals is backed by solid research and most definitely the one I would choose.
Hardy Nutritionals was developed by a physician, Dr. David Hardy, out of a quest to find answers to serious mental health concerns that plagued his close friends and family members, including two of his own children. Dr. Hardy’s supplements have been studied extensively by independent researchers at many universities, including Harvard, Ohio State, Calgary (Canada), and Canterbury (New Zealand), for various aspects of health—particularly mood and anxiety-related disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and OCD.
This research has resulted in nearly 30 publications in medical journals. A recent article in BMC Psychiatry noted that there is “more published and ongoing research on this formula† [the micronutrient formula David co-developed] for mental health than on any other complex formula anywhere in the world.
#2: Klaire Labs brand “Multithera 1 Capsule Formula Plus K”
This is a physician-quality formula and we know for sure you are getting what you pay for with this brand. I know for certain that this brand is third-party tested, GMP certified and all products are manufactured in one facility in Reno, Nevada. I also know that I was tested for vitamin deficiencies every year for the entire five years we had our own Clean Cuisine supplement line and I never once tested deficient in anything. Again, maybe it is all coincidence, but one thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong buying your supplements from a company that is third party tested.
As far as multi-vitamins go, this one gets a solid A and can be picked up via Klaire Labs right on Amazon.
#3: Smarty Pants brand Organic Women’s Complete
Each batch of Smarty Pants is third-party lab tested for purity and potency, so you know you are getting what you pay for. Smarty Pants products are made in North America from in a GMP-Compliant (Good Manufacturing Practices) facility and they test at every stage of the manufacturing process.
I also love that this brand includes 341 mg of omega-3 (in the form of ALA) and probiotics. SmartyPants are non-GMO, allergen-free, and made with eco-friendly ingredients. And finally, the biggest advantage Smarty Pants has over the other 2 brands is that it is chewable (and actually tastes good!) Buy Smarty Pants HERE.
If YOU have a multi-vitamin you love please tell us about it in the comments below!