The Ideal Multivitamin for Women and Men: Which Vitamins and How Much?
Multivitamins are an excellent way to ensure your body has enough of each vital micronutrient required to run seamlessly and keep you feeling your best. You’re probably well aware of the various types of multivitamins—multivitamins for men, multivitamins for women, for kids, teenagers, etc. The list goes on and on.
The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and within it, multivitamins are a class of their own. So, it’s no wonder that when you search for a new multivitamin, you’re overwhelmed by brand after brand, all claiming to be the best.
It’s true that you must be careful with supplement brands, as they have more leeway in their marketing claims than prescription drugs or foods. Still, many of the popular supplement brands offer excellent multivitamins for men or women, whoever you’re looking for. Still, it can be overwhelming when you’re trying to decide which to purchase, so let’s talk about the vitamins and minerals you should look for and their appropriate doses.
Multivitamins for Everyone
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that women and men require different amounts of vitamins and minerals. So, it makes sense that there are markets for both multivitamins for women and multivitamins for men.
Many other conditions require carefully dosed vitamins and minerals; these are:
- pregnancy and lactation
- older age
Even so, Health Canada doesn’t provide personalized guidance. So, let’s talk about the individual vitamins and minerals Health Canada suggests each of us should be getting every day and how much.
What are Recommended Daily Intake Values?
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) Values are a system of recommendations for nutritional categories such as:
- and more
This RDI system is used in Canada and the U.S. to give general guidelines for sufficient amounts of each individual micro and macronutrient for most healthy adults. The RDI varies from the percent daily value listed on nutrition labels, as the percent daily value is calculated based on these RDIs.
According to Health Canada, healthy infants between 6 months and 1 year require:
- 700 mg potassium
- 260 mg calcium
- 11 mg iron
- 500 µg vitamin A
- 50 mg vitamin C
- 10 µg vitamin D
- 5 mg vitamin E
- 2.5 µg vitamin K
- 0.3 mg thiamin, thiamine, or vitamin B1
- 0.4 mg riboflavin or vitamin B2
- 4 mg niacin
- 0.3 mg vitamin B6
- 80 µg DFE folate
- 0.5 µg vitamin B12
- 150 mg choline
- 6 µg biotin
- 1.8 mg pantothenic acid or pantothenate
- 275 mg phosphorous
- 130 µg iodide
- 75 mg magnesium
- 3 mg zinc
- 20 µg selenium
- 0.2 mg copper
- 0.6 manganese
- 5.5 µg chromium
- 3 µg molybdenum
- 570 mg chloride
Children between 1 year and 4 years require:
- 3,000 mg potassium
- 700 mg calcium
- 7 mg iron
- 300 µg vitamin A
- 15 mg vitamin C
- 15 µg vitamin D
- 6 mg vitamin E
- 30 µg vitamin K
- 0.5 mg thiamin, thiamine, or vitamin B1
- 0.5 mg riboflavin or vitamin B2
- 6 mg niacin
- 0.5 mg vitamin B6
- 150 µg DFE folate
- 0.9 µg vitamin B12
- 200 mg choline
- 8 µg biotin
- 2 mg pantothenic acid or pantothenate
- 460 mg phosphorous
- 90 µg iodide
- 80 mg magnesium
- 3 mg zinc
- 20 µg selenium
- 0.3 mg copper
- 1.2 manganese
- 11 µg chromium
- 17 µg molybdenum
- 1,500 mg chloride
Everyone else, according to Health Canada, requires:
- 4,700 mg potassium
- 1,300 mg calcium
- 18 mg iron
- 900 µg vitamin A
- 90 mg vitamin C
- 20 µg vitamin D
- 15 mg vitamin E
- 120 µg vitamin K
- 1.2 mg thiamin, thiamine, or vitamin B1
- 1.3 mg riboflavin or vitamin B2
- 16 mg niacin
- 1.7 mg vitamin B6
- 400 µg DFE folate
- 2.4 µg vitamin B12
- 550 mg choline
- 30 µg biotin
- 5 mg pantothenic acid or pantothenate
- 1,250 mg phosphorous
- 150 µg iodide
- 420 mg magnesium
- 11 mg zinc
- 55 µg selenium
- 0.9 mg copper
- 2.3 manganese
- 35 µg chromium
- 45 µg molybdenum
- 2,300 mg chloride
The variations make it easy to see why we can choose from multivitamins for adults and kids, but it doesn’t give much guidance beyond that. Additionally, it’s easy to see why we turn to multivitamins for men or multivitamins for women to get these nutrients with a list that long. You might not have even heard of some of these vitamins and minerals before now.
Obviously, all food you consume contains some nutrients, so it’s smart to get a general idea of what you already consume from your food. However, trying to determine how much you get of every one of these vitamins and minerals is overwhelming, which again shows us why multivitamins are so popular.
The ideal multivitamin for you should include a percent daily value of each vitamin and mineral that you don’t consume each day. This could vary from person to person, and it’s especially relevant if you have dietary restrictions such as lactose intolerance or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Multivitamins for Women
Multivitamins for women should include a nice variation of as many vitamins listed above as possible, but they should especially contain:
- folic acid, folate, or vitamin B9
- vitamin B12
- vitamin D
- vitamin K
- antioxidants—vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E
Vitamin B9 and B12 are essential for reproductive health and critical to the development of a fetus. In addition, vitamin D, vitamin K, and calcium are important in multivitamins for women because women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis as they age, and iron is lost each month during menstruation.
Antioxidants are of vital importance for all people, but they’re a great addition, especially for multivitamins for women because they help the body to age gracefully and support a healthy appearance of the hair, skin, and nails.
Multivitamins for Women who are Pregnant, Lactating, or Might Become Pregnant
Multivitamins for women who are pregnant are different than regular multivitamins for women. In addition to the folate and vitamin B12 that help support fetal development, multivitamins for women who are pregnant or prenatal vitamins should include:
Iodine is vital for regulating a fetus’s brain and nervous system, while DHA helps the brain and eyes develop. Zinc is vital for the baby’s cell and DNA construction.
Many women don’t get adequate amounts of these vitamins and minerals from their diet alone. So, multivitamins for women who are pregnant are even more essential than regular multivitamins for women.
In addition to pregnancy, special multivitamins for women are also important for the postpartum period. Many doctors recommend that women continue taking a prenatal multivitamin until they are done lactating.
Now there are also postnatal vitamins for women during this delicate postpartum period. These multivitamins for women might include more iron, vitamin D, DHA, choline, and more.
Iron is important for the lost blood in the immediate postpartum days, and DHA helps support the baby through the mother’s breastmilk. On the other hand, choline can benefit both mother and baby’s immune function.
Multivitamins for Men
Men, on the other hand, require a multivitamin for men with different emphasis on the following nutrients:
- vitamin D
- vitamin C
- vitamin A
Vitamin D and calcium support bone health in men, as it does in women. Additionally, every time your muscles fire, they use vitamin D—so the more muscle you have, the more vitamin D you require. Because men typically have more muscle mass than women, they require more vitamin D.
Folate is important for a man’s DNA health, and vitamin C and A support prostate health. Potassium, magnesium, and zinc are all important inclusions for multivitamins for men because they support heart health and immune function as men age.
Multivitamins for Children, Teenagers, and Older Adults
People in various life stages require different doses of the same vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it’s a good idea to reference the chart above for children and ensure that the children’s multivitamin you chose is appropriate.
For adults reaching older age, some research is in order on an individual basis, most likely with the help of a primary care physician to advise and monitor for potential interactions with prescription medicines.
Other Vitamin and Mineral Supplements You Should Take in Addition to Your Multivitamin
Typically, multivitamins for men and multivitamins for women won’t include all of the micronutrients listed on the recommended daily intake chart. Instead, they usually strategically include those many people fail to get through a typical diet. That’s why it’s important to get some insight into what you, individually, might be lacking and compare with the nutrition label of your multivitamin.
In addition to the nutrients that you personally might not get through your diet, there are some nutrients that are typically not included in a regular multivitamin for men or women. For example, things like calcium, vitamin D, and fish oil might be things that your diet lacks, but the average multivitamin doesn’t have.
That’s why it’s important to carefully examine the label of your multivitamin for men or women and determine what stand-alone vitamins and supplements you might benefit from taking.
Fish oil, or the healthy omega fatty acids we need, is seldom included in a typical multivitamin for men or women. But fish oil contains important nutrients that most diets fail to contain.
Fish oil is known to:
- support heart and bone health
- support mental health
- aid in weight loss
- support eye and skin health
- reduce painful and dangerous inflammation
Vitamin D is another nutrient you might be interested in taking in a stand-alone supplement instead of relying solely on your multivitamin for men or women. While vitamin D is commonly included in regular multivitamins for men and women, most people still typically fall short of the daily recommended intake.
Vitamin D plays a more significant role in immune function than vitamin C does, and it’s also known to:
- support bone health
- support weight management
- increase strength
- reduce depression symptoms
- reduce the risk of cancer
Recommended Vitamin Stack
Given this information, we recommend taking the following vitamin stack to support your optimal health.
Multivitamin for Men: Animal Pak by Universal Nutrition
Animal Pak is our best-selling multivitamin for men. It is a pack of pills that contains all the critical nutrients for a multivitamin for men and herbs and amino acids to support optimal athletic performance. This blend of 60 ingredients is sure to cover all your bases and keep you feeling your best.
Multivitamin for Women: Vitaform for Women by Allmax
Our best-selling multivitamin for women is Vitaform. It includes everything we listed that’s important for a multivitamin for women, except for iron. Iron can be hard on some people’s stomachs, so many multivitamins for women choose to forgo the inclusion and allow you the option of adding it as a stand-alone vitamin.
Vitaform is designed to support active women, not necessarily pre or postnatal women, as it also includes caffeine and herbs to support athletic performance and health.
Fish Oil: Omega-3 Fish Oil by Allmax
Once you’ve selected the appropriate multivitamin for men or women, depending on your gender, add this fish oil supplement. It contains an ideal 1,000mg of fish oil concentrate from cold-water fish, without the unpleasant fishy odor that’s so common with fish oil capsules.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D3 by Swiss Naturals
This vitamin D supplement has an ideal 1,000 IU per tablet to help give your body all it needs if your multivitamin of choice doesn’t suit your recommended needs or in times of added need like cold and flu season.
Do be careful adding vitamin D supplements if your multivitamin for men or women contains it, as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s easier to reach toxic levels in the body than other water-soluble vitamins.
We always advocate for getting the bulk of your nutrition from food, but we’re very aware of the challenges. That’s why we believe so strongly in quality supplements to help fill the gaps. Multivitamins for men and women are great staple products that we feel most healthy adults can benefit from, and the addition of fish oil and vitamin D can help ensure you’re hitting all the marks when it comes to your nutrition.