What Vitamins Are Most Important for 50+ Women? Sources + Tips
As you age, your micronutiet needs change. Find out the best vitamins for women over 50 to ensure you are fueling your body with the nutrients it craves.
Nutrition needs change significantly throughout a lifetime, so what is appropriate for an teenage female might not be suitable for a woman over 25. Nutritional needs continue to evolve into later adulthood. For example, women aged 15 to 49 need increased iron due to menstruation, while women over 50 need less iron but more of other nutrients, including vitamin B6 and calcium.1,2,3
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are essential micronutrients necessary for optimal health in both men and women. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate). Vitamins serve different purposes in the body to keep it working properly.
Minerals are another type of micronutrient that is important for health, and are sometimes confused with vitamins. Essential minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, sulfur, cobalt, copper, fluoride, manganese, and selenium.
Multivitamins are supplements that combine vitamins and minerals, often in capsule, tablet, or powder form. Several multivitamins are available, many of which are formulated for specific needs such as athletic performance, immune health, and energy.
Health Benefits of Taking Vitamins
There are several potential health benefits of taking daily vitamin supplements.
Blood and Nerve Health
It is estimated up to 43 percent of the older adult population has a vitamin B12 deficiency. As a part of the natural aging process, there is a decline in the body’s production of stomach acid and an enzyme called intrinsic factor, both of which are necessary for adequate absorption of B12. A B12 deficiency may cause blood disorders and negatively impact nerve health. Signs of a deficiency can include anemia, low white blood cell count, weight loss, dementia, and impacts on nerves, such as tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.3
Multivitamins that contain B12 can promote blood and nerve health.
Estrogen allows the body to absorb calcium and deposits it in bones and teeth. When estrogen levels drop later in life, women are at greater risk for decreased bone density, osteoporosis, falls, fractures, and poor dental health.
Some studies suggest that dietary calcium supplements do not significantly impact bone health. However, several other high-quality studies show improved bone mineral density and fewer fractures when supplementing with calcium.4
Some of these studies show that other vitamins and minerals affect bone health, such as vitamin D which can increase calcium absorption, along with magnesium and vitamin K.
With age, the body also converts less vitamin D from the sun, and appetite tends to decrease, resulting in an intake of fewer magnesium-rich foods. A multivitamin with vitamin D, K, and magnesium may support better bone health.5
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in women. To decrease the risk of heart problems and increase longevity, it’s important to get enough of the nutrients that support heart health.6
Along with healthy lifestyle habits (eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and good sleep), consuming omega-3 fatty acids may mildly decrease the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events.7
Some multivitamins include omega-3 fatty acids and may help promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Smaller studies have found that taking a daily multivitamin may help improve memory and positively affect mood in older adults.8,9,10 Research has not only revealed links between poor mood and nutrient deficiencies and between nutritional supplements and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.11
One of the leading causes of blindness is age-related macular degeneration. Research has found that supplementing with antioxidant vitamins and minerals may delay or even prevent the progression of macular degeneration. Other research suggests that regular vitamin supplementation can decrease the risk of developing cataracts, another common age-related eye disease.12,13,14
Hormones can cause issues for many women, especially during perimenopause and menopause. These fluctuations can have many frustrating side effects, including weight gain, hot flashes, decreased sex drive, and mood swings.
Some vitamins and minerals may help support optimal hormone levels to decrease negative symptoms associated with aging.
Vitamin supplementation can fill in nutritional gaps and support overall health. In addition to a healthy balanced diet, vitamins help decrease disease risk and improve longevity.
Why are Vitamins Necessary for 50+ Women’s Health?
Although it’s possible to satisfy most of your nutrient needs through food, it may be difficult for women over 50 to consume all the necessary nutrients from their diet alone.
While we encourage you to consume various foods from different food groups (fruits, vegetables, dairy, legumes, fish, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy oils), supplementing with vitamins can help ensure you consume enough micronutrients.
There is a natural decrease in estrogen during menopause, which can significantly impact many parts of the body. In addition to hormonal changes, the aging body experiences other changes that affect nutrient needs. These changes may include the following:
- slower metabolism
- declining appetite
- decreased food intake
- decreased lean body mass
- decreased bone density
- malabsorption of vitamin B-12
- decreased number of taste buds
What Vitamins Should Women Over 50 Take Regularly?
A complete multivitamin for women over 50 should include a full panel of vitamins and minerals.
Discussing vitamin supplementation with a healthcare professional can be helpful because nutrient needs change with age, and some people may have different needs than others.
Women over 50 are more likely to have a deficiency in or have increased needs for the following vitamins and minerals:
Vitamin B12 plays a key role in many aspects of health and may support bone health, red blood cell formation, energy levels, and mood. Eating a nutritious diet or taking a supplement can help ensure you’re meeting these needs.
Vitamin B6 has several health benefits for the body, including promoting brain health and improving mood.
Research suggests that vitamin D3 may have numerous benefits related to cancer, bone health, mental health, and autoimmune diseases.
Calcium supplements may be recommended for postmenopausal women, as menopause can lead to bone loss and decreased calcium absorption.
Magnesium becomes more difficult to absorb as you age. Magnesium plays a key role in heart and bone health.
These essential fatty acids are linked to lower rates of cognitive decline with age due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Omega-3s are also important for heart and skin health.
Vitamin B2 helps your body build red blood cells and support other cellular functions that give you energy, such as metabolism.
Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble nutrient. It’s a powerful antioxidant needed for your body's immune health and cellular signaling.
Folic acid may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as cervical and colon cancer. Folic acid may also help to prevent type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
What Are Multivitamins?
Multivitamins are dietary supplements that contain many different vitamins and minerals. Their nutrient composition varies from brand to brand.
Multivitamins are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, chewable gummies, powders, and liquids, and can be purchased at pharmacies, large discount stores, supermarkets, and online retailers like Amazon.
Most multivitamins should be taken once or twice per day. Be sure to read the label and follow the appropriate dosage recommendations.
How to Choose a Multivitamin
When choosing a multivitamin that’s right for you, it’s important to consider not only your specific health and nutrient needs but also the cost and quality of the supplement.
Third-Party Tested, Quality Ingredients
Look for supplements manufactured by reputable companies and tested for purity and potency by a third-party organization such as NSF International, USP, Europhins, or ConsumerLab.com.
Avoid Unnecessary Ingredients
If you follow a specific diet or wish to avoid certain ingredients, look for a multivitamin that is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, certified organic, or free of artificial additives and preservatives.
Check Nutrient Composition
Make sure the multivitamin meets your specific nutritional needs and does not contain any herbs or ingredients that would interact with any prescription medications you may be taking. If unsure, consult a medical provider.
Some important nutrients to look for include:
- Omega 3-DHA
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin K2
The cost of multivitamins can vary significantly. Consider your budget and price per serving, as some products require you to take multiple daily pills or gummies.
The Best Multivitamins for Women Over 50, According to Signos
Signos used the following criteria to select our top picks:
- Third-party tested and manufactured according to the current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Ingredient quality and bioavailability of the nutrient forms used
- Free of unnecessary ingredients like fillers, artificial sweeteners, and colors
- Trusted by healthcare professionals, including doctors and dietitians
- Suitable for a range of budgets
- Best vegan multivitamin: Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 50+
- Best multivitamin for filling in common nutritional gaps: Care/of Multivitamin — The Foundation
- Best gummy multivitamin: SmartyPants Masters Complete Women 50+ Gummy
- Best comprehensive multivitamin: Thorne Women’s Multi 50+
- Best multi-compound multivitamin: Pure Encapsulations Longevity Nutrients
Boost your Health and Nutrition with Signos
Signos is a great resource for expert advice on nutrition and healthy eating. Signos has a team of registered dietitians who compile evidence-based nutrition information to help you improve your health and wellness. Check out the resources here.
Signos CGM empowers you to improve your health by keeping track of your diet, exercise, sleep habits, and blood sugar. Knowledge is power, and a CGM can give you specific information about how your habits affect your health.
Find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz.
- Mintz J, Mirza J, Young E, Bauckman K. Iron Therapeutics in Women's Health: Past, Present, and Future. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2020;13(12):449. Published 2020 Dec 8. doi:10.3390/ph13120449
- Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2011.
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Cholineexternal link disclaimer. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998.
- Rondanelli M, Faliva MA, Barrile GC, et al. Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Dietary Supplementation to Prevent Bone Mineral Density Loss: A Food Pyramid. Nutrients. 2021;14(1):74. Published 2021 Dec 24. doi:10.3390/nu14010074
- Capozzi A, Scambia G, Lello S. Calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium supplementation and skeletal health. Maturitas. 2020;140:55-63. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.05.020
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women and Heart Disease. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/women.htm
- Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;3(3):CD003177. Published 2020 Feb 29. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub5
- Summers WK, Martin RL, Cunningham M, DeBoynton VL, Marsh GM. Complex antioxidant blend improves memory in community-dwelling seniors. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;19(2):429-439. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1229
- Harris E, Macpherson H, Vitetta L, Kirk J, Sali A, Pipingas A. Effects of a multivitamin, mineral and herbal supplement on cognition and blood biomarkers in older men: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2012;27(4):370-377. doi:10.1002/hup.2236
- Macpherson H, Silberstein R, Pipingas A. Neurocognitive effects of multivitamin supplementation on the steady state visually evoked potential (SSVEP) measure of brain activity in elderly women. Physiol Behav. 2012;107(3):346-354. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.08.006
- Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(2):77-82. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.42391
- Lim LS, Mitchell P, Seddon JM, Holz FG, Wong TY. Age-related macular degeneration. Lancet. 2012;379(9827):1728-1738. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60282-7
- Evans JR, Lawrenson JG. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;11:CD000254. Published 2012 Nov 14. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000254.pub3
- Zhao LQ, Li LM, Zhu H, The Epidemiological Evidence-Based Eye Disease Study Research Group EY. The effect of multivitamin/mineral supplements on age-related cataracts: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2014;6(3):931-949. Published 2014 Feb 28. doi:10.3390/nu6030931