What Women Need in a Multivitamin

Before we dive into the details let’s start with the question:

What is a multivitamin supplement?

Great question and the reality of the answer may shock you. Ready? There is no standard set by the FDA for a multivitamin. A company can put together a skeleton formula with a few cheap, synthetic vitamins in inadequate doses, sprinkle a little magnesium and zinc in for good measure and market it as a “multivitamin”. This is poor practice and learning to sort through the junk to find a good product is easy if you keep reading.

A “multi” should contain micronutrients – vitamins and minerals and potentially other phytochemicals and plant-derived nutrients designed to enhance your health. There are 13 essential vitamins along with major and trace minerals that are key to look for in a quality multi.

Why a multivitamin?

First start with asking, what is your goal? Why are you taking a multivitamin? Weber’s definition of supplement is, “something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.”

Your daily multivitamin should be something that is used to enhance your life and wellness. This should be in addition to good lifestyle habits such as:

  • Quality sleep
  • Hydration
  • Good nutrition
  • Movement
  • Healthy stress management
  • Meaningful community

All of the above are crucial aspects to your overall health.

Your multivitamin and mineral is your nutrient insurance policy. You are enhancing your health and quality of life by providing the foundational nutrients that are key to many crucial functions in your body such as:

  • Energy production
  • Hormone balance
  • Digestive health
  • Optimizing mood & brain function
  • Inflammatory control
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Detoxification capacities
  • And much more

Diet is Not Enough

Unfortunately, no matter how healthy you eat our food is lacking the micronutrient content it once had. Why? A few reasons.

1. Our Farming Practices

Modern farming practices do not focus on soil health and regeneration of nutrients in the soil as our crops are grown.[1] The result is poor micronutrient status in the soil, which impacts what the plant absorbs and contains when we eat it. [1] This is also relevant for animal products as the animals eat the plants and their nutrient status is determined by the plant nutrient status.

2. Modern Lifestyle

We are faced with more challenges to our bodies than individuals who lived 50-70 years ago. We have more stress, increased exposure to environmental toxins along with widespread antibiotic use in farming that depletes beneficial bacteria in animals and humans that helps product and absorb nutrients. [2] [3] These factors lead us to need more support to maintain a healthy body as we live on planet earth.

3. We are Nutrient Deficient

It is estimated that up to 95% of Americans are deficient in at least ONE micronutrient and many are deficient in several![4] You may work really hard to eat a nutrient rich diet but may still fall short because your nutrient needs are higher than what you can get from diet alone. For example, if your magnesium status is low and you consume 300mg of magnesium in your food but need 600mg to get back to an optimal status, you are still short. This is where supplementing ENHANCES your health. The same is true of Vitamin D. You can get sunshine and consume foods with Vitamin D but you may need to supplement depending on your specific lab values.

Improving Quality of Life

Maintaining good nutrient status has been shown to have significant implications for long-term health and wellbeing. [5] And regular multivitamin users have been shown to maintain been micronutrient status compared to food alone. [5]

What Should I Look For In A Multivitamin and Mineral?


1. Flip the bottle and look at the Supplement Facts
2. Find Folate (vitamin B9) and B12
3. Look at the form


Folic acid = synthetic, cheap, oxidized version of vitamin B9


Methylfolate (5-MTHF) = biologically active form of folate used by body



Cyanocobalamin = synthetic, oxidized version of vitamin B12 that has to be converted in multiple steps to the active form of B12 and uses up nutrients in the process


Methylcobalamin = biologically active form of folate used by body



Folate is an umbrella term for several forms of vitamin B9.
Folic acid = synthetic, oxidized version of vitamin B9
Methylfolate = biologically active form of folate used by body

Up to 50% of the population has mutations called SNPs in the enzymes (DHFR, MTHFD1 and MTHFR) that allow for proper conversion of folic acid to methylfolate. And folic acid has been shown to block cellular receptors for active folate entering cells.

The bottom line

Folic acid is a no- no.

Make sure your multi contains 400 micrograms of methyfolate
(sometimes listed as 5-methyltetradhyrofolate or 5-MTHF)

Methylfolate is much more expensive to use in a formula. Cheap multis typically use folic acid to cut corners.

B12 is an umbrella term for several forms of cobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin = synthetic, oxidized version of vitamin B12 that has to be converted in multiple steps to the active form of B12 and uses up nutrients in the process

Methylcobalamin = biologically active form of folate used by body

Up to 40% of the population has mutations called SNPs in the enzymes (MTR and MTRR) that play a crucial role in the cobalamin cycle where active forms of B12 are vital for proper functioning.

The bottom line

Cyanocobalamin is a no- no.

Make sure your multi contains methylcobalamin. This form is much more expensive to use in a formula. Cheap multis typically use the cyano form to cut corners.

What Should I Look For In A Multivitamin and Mineral?

1. Vitamins and Minerals Included
  • ALL 8 B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate, B12)
  • Vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Key Minerals - calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, chromium, molybdenum
  • Choline – a B vitamin derivative important for brain health, liver/gallbladder health
  • Phytonutrient blend
2. Nutrient Forms and Doses
  • Bioavailable forms – methylated B vitamins, chelated minerals
  • Dose – more is not always better. Dose should always match the unique need for pregnancy. A good multi should be formulated to provide adequate nutrients levels but not overdo it. For example, a recent study showed that too much vitamin B6 can increase risk for hip fracture and heart disease. Biotin recommendations were lowered from 300mcg to 30mcg due to evidence of too much biotin causing DNA damage.
3. Other Ingredients
  • Below the Supplement Facts you will see “other ingredients”
  • Chemical additives, preservatives, food dyes and synthetic fillers can have a negative impact on nutrient absorption and your health. Find a product free of these synthetic “other ingredients”.
4. Delivery
  • Just because a mulit contains the right dose and form of nutrients doesn’t mean you will absorb it. The delivery of the nutrients is crucial.
  • Tablets are made by taking raw materials and pounding it together under heat and pressure. It is a more concentrated form but tends to pass through the GI tract very poorly absorbed.
  • Gummies are nice but do not always provide a stable form of nutrient delivery and very rarely contain all of the needed nutrients.
  • Capsules are preferable due to easy breakdown of capsule and release of nutrients in the stomach. Capsules can also be opened and added to juice, smoothie, oatmeal or other food when swallowing a capsule is not tolerated.

Key Nutrients

1. Heart Healthy Nutrients

Your most vital organ

The heart is a muscle and requires adequate energy to function properly. Anti-inflammatory nutrients are important heart healthy nutrients as they help to maintain healthy blood vessels.

Magnesium: The most important minerals for heart function that helps produce ATP for proper heartbeat and may improve arrhythmias as well as relaxation of blood vessels for healthy blood pressure.[8]

Calcium: helps the muscles contract properly

Vitamin K2: improves endothelial function and may minimize calcification to arteries by activating Matrix gla proteins (MGP) proteins. [7]

Vitamin D3: usually thought to support bone health but more recent research has shown that Vitamin D3 is a powerful stimulator of nitric oxide that regulates healthy blood flow in the vessels. [6]

Vitamin C: along with participating as a powerful antioxidant in the body, vitamin C helps with production of collagen that is used to maintain the integrity of blood vessels.

On top of these important nutrients, phytochemicals from plants foods have been shown to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system and support overall heart health. [9] A multi that contains a blend of phytonutrients is an additional bonus for heart health.

2. Immune Boosting Nutrients

Your military. There are multiple branches with different functions but the mission is the same. Protect your body.

Immune system function is not only important for fighting off viruses and bacteria but also for warding off disease states such as autoimmunity and cancer. There are certain key nutrients that aid in proper immune system response.

Vitamin A: the organs and tissues of the body responsible for immune system function require a constant supply of preformed vitamin A. Vitamin is is known to have anti-viral properties and protect the lung tissue from damage with upper respiratory illnesses. [10]

Vitamin C: is a diverse vitamin that can act as an antioxidant and pro-oxidant. As a pro-oxidant, it accumulates in immune cells and participates in throwing fireballs of inflammation at viruses and bacteria to kill them. Supplementation with vitamin C is used to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections like influenza. [11] Deficiency of vitamin C results in impaired immune function and higher susceptibility to infections. [11]

Zinc: this key mineral participates in the early stages of infection to help the immune system mount a response against the invading pathogen. [12] At the same time, zinc has been found to BALANCE the immune response and prevent the immune system from overreacting and damaging our own tissues. [12]

3. Anti-Aging Nutrients

The best definition of aging is: WEAR AND TEAR ON YOUR BODY – DNA, cells, tissues and a lowered resilience to fight off disease. Biological age is truly just a number. You can be 20 with very poor cellular health or 50 with fantastic cellular health. Your diet and lifestyle plays a tremendous role in how your DNA, cells and tissues age over time.

Anti-Aging means maintaining a healthy body. This includes:

Mitochondrial Health

These are the little powerhouses in your cells that make cellular energy in the form of ATP. YOU MAKE YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN ATP EVERYDAY! Healthy mitochondria means healthy energy levels, brain and nervous system, metabolism, digestion, eye and bone health.

Key mito nutrients: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, E & K, polyphenols from plant foods, green tea extract, manganese, magnesium
Balancing Inflammation

Some inflammation is good – it helps your body heal and fights infections. But too much inflammation overtime causes damage to your cells and leads to dysfunction. Balancing inflammation is a key aspect of healthy aging.

Key anti-inflammatory nutrients: Vitamin C, D3 and E, folate, niacin for NAD+ production, iodine, selenium, polyphenols from plant foods.

4. Brain and Nervous System Nutrients

Your brain is a precious organ that is important to support and protect throughout every decade of life. The brain is the hub of the nervous system that functions as your electrical system controlling many crucial functions such as:

  • Mood regulation
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Sleep quality
  • Regulating hormones
  • Movement

As you age, your risk for dementia and other nervous system disorders increase. It is important to practice healthy lifestyle habits listed above along with ensuring brain-boosting nutrients are part of your foundational plan on a daily basis.

Key brain nutrients include: B vitamins, choline, zinc, selenium, lithium, ginseng, vitamin C, vitamin E

Let’s highlight a few…

B12 is used to form the protective coating around your nerves called the myelin sheath. Think of your nerves like the cord on your living room lamp. The plastic coating around the wire protects the electrical change and directs it where it should go. The same is true of the myelin sheath coating around your nerves.

Once you hit 50, your ability to absorb vitamin B12 begins to decrease and it is extremely important to ensure adequate intake to support a healthy nervous system.

Lithium: this is a very underrecognized trace element. Microdoses of lithium orotate increases the amount of B12 and folate (vitamin B9) transported inside of the cell. Lithium is also one of the most protective substances for your nerve cells called neurons to maintain a healthy brain and nervous system.

‘Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and one of the most active and informed proponents of lithium in the medical community, notes: “Lithium is, by far, the most proven drug to keep neurons alive, in animals and in humans, consistently and with many replicated studies.” And, he added, “If lithium prevents dementia, then we may have overlooked a very simple means of preventing a major public health problem.”[13]

Folate used to make neurotransmitters that regulate mood. In fact, folate is so powerful at supporting mood that there is a high dose folate medical food called Deplin® used to treat depression.

Meeting Your Unique Nutrient Needs

By now we hope you feel empowered with information regarding why you should take a multi, how to pick out a quality product and the roles these key nutrients play in supporting your overall health.

VitaminIQ’s Women’s Multi was intelligently formulated with you in mind. If you have any questions, please reach out to our expert team and we will be happy to answer your questions.

To your best health,
The VitaminIQ Team