9 Nutrients You Should Look for in a Women's Multivitamin

6 min read

Curious about what to look for in the ideal multivitamin? We break down the science of 9 key nutrients.
Curious about what to look for in the ideal multivitamin? We break down the science of 9 key nutrients.

We get it: Shopping for the right multivitamin can feel… well, overwhelming. With so many options (and an overload of misinformation) on the market, it can be tricky to discern exactly what your body needs on a daily basis—and at the end of the day, understand how a great multivitamin can provide support.

So allow us to help out—we're kind of pros at sifting through the BS and getting straight to the science. For starters, we're believers in a food-first approach: A healthy diet is arguably the best source for most of the nutrients and essential vitamins you need on a daily basis. The problem, however, is that most of us still come up short when it comes to meeting certain nutrient needs. (And different lifestyle choices, like a vegan diet, can definitely factor in as well.)

That's why from our POV, an ideal women's multivitamin should help fill nutrient gaps in your diet without overloading you with things you don't need. Want an example? You probably get enough vitamin C just from the foods you eat, which is why we chose not to include it in our multivitamins. You might be thinking that more of this healthy nutrient can't hurt, right? Well, that's not exactly true: Sometimes overdoing it on one nutrient can impact the effects of another.

Calcium is another one we like to call out. It's obviously a key player in bone health, but the thing is that a lot of us get plenty of calcium through our diets—and more and more emerging research suggests that overdoing it on calcium may do more harm than good. That's why we choose to focus on calcium-helper nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, and boron, which also play important roles in supporting bone health.*

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. After combing thousands of studies and journals, our science team identified nine key nutrients that you should aim to look for in a daily multivitamin.


Folate. Folate has a rep for being a key nutrient to support your baby’s development during pregnancy. But while that may be true, it’s honestly a must-have whether you’re expecting or not: This B-vitamin plays a role in DNA synthesis and helps support the neurotransmitters in your brain, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for this nutrient in your multi.*

One important caveat: While you’ll notice that a lot of vitamins on the market use folic acid, we prefer to use methylated folate in Essential for Women (and the rest of our multivitamins, for that matter). Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, and while it’s highly stable, there’s just one problem: up to 40% of women have a genetic variation that makes it extra tricky for your body to properly utilize folic acid. The folate we use is a more bioavailable version, which means that it’s easier for most women to absorb—even those who have that genetic variation.*

Omega-3. Did you know that 95% of women between the ages of 19 and 50 aren’t getting their recommended daily value of omega-3 fatty acids†? That’s a shame, because omega-3s are an important nutrient: They help support brain, vision and heart health.*

Not all omega-3s are created equal, which is why we prefer to use Omega-3 DHA in our multivitamins: It’s one of the recommended dietary fatty acids that helps out with the systems we mentioned above.

Vitamin B12. Vegans and vegetarians, we probably don’t even need to tell you to take note: Because it’s found mainly in meat, fish, and eggs, B12 can be very hard to come by in a plant-based diet. That’s bad news, since vitamin B12 is important for energy-yielding metabolism and cell division. (This is why B12 shortfalls can manifest as feeling sluggish or “off.”)*

Vitamin D3. Do you live in an urban area or in the northern hemisphere? Is it fall, winter, or spring? Do you spend lots of time indoors? Do you use sunscreen on the reg? These are just a few of the many reasons why you might be low in vitamin D. So… yeah, chances are your levels aren’t where they need to be. (You’re far from alone: Up to 75% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight and/or their diet.) That’s why supplementing is a great idea, especially since vitamin D helps support bone and immune health on top of muscle function.*

Iron. You probably already know that iron is pretty important. It’s a component of your blood and helps support red blood cell formation and energy-yielding metabolism. But you may not be meeting your iron needs through your diet alone if you’re vegan or vegetarian. A multivitamin with iron (like our Essential for Women) can help fill nutrient gaps.*

Vitamin K2. It’s okay if you haven’t heard of vitamin K2—it is, after all, kind of an unsung hero. So allow us to give K2 the recognition it deserves. While many of us get plenty of calcium through our diets, calcium needs help from nutrients like vitamin K2 for our body to make the most of it. In other words, it’s an important teammate when it comes to supporting bone health.*

Boron. Like K2, boron works as a calcium-helper nutrient (along with magnesium and vitamin D) to help support bone health.*

Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it supports against free radicals. That’s why it’s kind of a bummer that 95% of women ages 19-50 don’t get the recommended daily amount of vitamin E through diet alone. We opt for Vitamin E from mixed tocopherols in our multivitamins. *

Magnesium. Magnesium is kind of the overachiever of nutrients, since it plays a role in a lot of different processes in the body (from bone health to cell division and more). The problem is that we need a lot of it for it to do its job well, and most of us don’t get enough through diet alone. That’s why supplementing is a good idea—and why we include it in Essential for Women.*

The bottom line

While it would be awesome to meet all your nutrient needs through diet alone, it just isn’t always possible for most of us. That’s why we believe so strongly in choosing a multivitamin that helps fill nutrient gaps without overdoing it—and that's something we wanted to apply even for people with more restrictive diets, like, vegans and vegetarians. That “less is more” philosophy is what drove us to create Essential for Women in the first place.*

†Key omega-3s = DHA+EPA. There is no established Daily Value but experts suggest 250 mg per day of DHA+EPA