9 Nutrients to Look for in a Women's Multivitamin

8 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.

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Big news! Our gold standard clinical study is officially published—learn all about the road to our clinical trial and the results.

We get it: Shopping for the right multivitamin can feel… well, overwhelming. With so many options (and an overload of information) on the market, it can be tricky to discern exactly what the body needs on a daily basis—and at the end of the day, understand how a great multivitamin can help 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 vitamins needed on a daily basis. The caveat, however, is that most of us may commonly 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 the diet without overloading things. Want an example? People commonly get enough vitamin C just from the foods they eat, which is why we chose not to include it in our multivitamins. You might be thinking that more of this nutrient can't hurt, right? Well, that's not exactly true: Sometimes overdoing it on one nutrient can impact 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 can get adequate 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 D3, 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 to look for in a daily multivitamin.


Folate. Folate has a rep for being a key nutrient to support 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 supporting DNA methylation, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for this nutrient in a multi.*

One important caveat: While you’ll notice that a lot of multivitamins on the market use folic acid, we prefer to use methylated folate in Essential for Women 18+ (and the rest of our multivitamins, for that matter). Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, and there’s just one problem: up to one-third of women have a genetic variation that can make it difficult for the body to efficiently utilize folic acid. The folate we use is a cell-identical, bioavailable version, which means that it can be absorbed and efficiently utilized—even those who have that genetic variation.*

Omega-3. Did you know that up to 95% of women aren’t getting their recommended daily value of omega-3 fatty acids†? That’s important, 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 vegan omega-3 DHA in our multivitamins.*

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

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 hard to come by in a plant-based diet. That’s important, since vitamin B12 is important for helping suppport energy-yielding metabolism and normal cell division.*

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 consider supplementing vitamin D3. (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 normal immune function and normal 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 have difficulty 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. 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 many 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 caveat is that we need a lot of it for it to do its job well, and many 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.*

How to choose a high-quality women’s vitamin

In addition to the aforementioned 9 key nutrients, there’s a few things to look out for when shopping for a high-quality women’s multivitamin. For starters, are the labeled ingredients made traceable—that is, can you see where they come from and why they’re there? Are key nutrients, like folate, in bioavailable forms? Is the multi vegan and formulated for specific life stages? Does it have an enjoyable taste and consumption experience? All of these are important markers of quality, and doing the research upfront can go a long way toward building a consistent habit.

Another question to help gauge trust is whether or not the formula is clinical-backed. (Sourcing science-backed nutrients should always be non-negotiable, and quantifying a formula’s impact takes things a step further.) That’s why we invested in a university-led clinical study for Essential for Women 18+. The results from our 12-week clinical trial—conducted as a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in partnership with Auburn University, on 94 women ages 21-40—were significant, with Essential for Women 18+ increasing vitamin D3 levels by 43% and omega-3 DHA levels by 41% in just 12 weeks.

Even better? Our gold standard clinical study has been published (!) in Frontiers in Nutrition, a leading, internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journal. Being published is the final step to ensuring quality research—and often the most difficult one to achieve—but striving for knowledge that will help advance science is a journey we’re in for the long haul.*

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 18+ in the first place.*

By the way... Essential for Women 18+ is so unique that the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded us a patent (# US 11,083,738 B2). Check it out.


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