We updated this guide in April 2022 to streamline our dietitian-vetted picks for the best women's multivitamins based on recently updated assessments by the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab. We also added more information about nutritional value and included answers to frequently asked questions about shopping for the best women's multivitamin.
While it's always best to get your nutrients through food whenever possible, multivitamins can be a great tool when it comes to filling in potential nutrient gaps in your diet. Your body needs a variety of crucial nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and omega-3s, as well as vitamins A, D, E, C and more. Even if you follow a healthy diet, eating lots of delicious vegetables and fruits, it's still possible that you may need to supplement some of these nutrients. And issues like allergies, dietary restrictions and medical conditions can further impact how and what you eat, making multivitamins crucial for women who are chronically deficient in key nutrients.
But peruse the vitamin section of your local drug store and you'll likely start to feel overwhelmed by the crowded supplement landscape. What's more, the supplement industry itself is poorly regulated, and it's hard to know which brands and formulations will meet your needs. That's why our team of registered dietitians within the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab pored over hundreds of vitamin supplements to find the best options for a multitude of women.
Our experts consulted the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices for supplements and considered only multivitamins that have been tested by a credible third party such as USP, NSF and Consumer Lab, or met the Good Housekeeping Nutrition Lab's rigorous standards. These steps are designed to help ensure that there are no harmful substances (e.g., lead, which has been found in certain supplements in the past) in the products themselves, and also verifies that what’s in the bottle is what is on the label.
Take note: Our nutrition pros stress that a multivitamin is a supplement and should do just that: supplement the diet, not replace high-quality healthy food. Check with your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplements.
Below, the best women's multivitamins for multiple uses and considerations, all of which meet the quality control standards that may give you confidence in making the right choice for you and your body.
Our top picks:
- Certified USDA organic
- Certified NSF Gluten Free
A serving of these vegan tablets provides 50% of your daily value (DV) for iron, as well as at least 100% of your daily value for vitamins A, C, D, E and K, plus a slew of B vitamins including B12. This product is certified organic, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified and free of any fillers and synthetic binders too. Tests previously conducted by Consumer Lab indicated this brand was free of heavy metals and any disintegration, and that it contains the amount of nutrients claimed on its ingredients label. It's also available in a convenient once-daily formula.
- USP Verified
- Added iron for additional support
This budget-friendly formula contains upwards of 23 different nutrients designed to make up for any nutritional shortfalls. This USP-verified multi contains rich levels of vitamin C, vitamin D3 and vitamin A with added vitamin E and iron too. Housed within a gluten-free capsule, NatureMade's vitamins are also artificial color and flavoring free.
- Free of artificial fillers or placeholders
- Use code 'GHK15' for 15% off
A purely vegan supplement, Seedwell's daily multivitamin helps to bridge possible nutritional deficiency gaps common in vegan or vegetarian diets. The brand packs in nine different essential nutrients into its supplement, touting the only vegetable source of vitamin D, Shiitake mushrooms, and includes crucial iron, zinc and vitamin B12 to help supplement a meat-free diet. The 50 mcg of vitamin B12 plays a role in regulating red blood cell health, says Amy Fischer, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian with the Good Housekeeping Institute. This is key to avoiding issues like anemia, which is known to lead to chills and fatigue and is a risk for people on vegan and vegetarian diets.
The Good Housekeeping Institute’s chemists and registered dietitians assessed the potency of key nutrients in this product by analyzing Seedwell's test data which was performed at an independent laboratory, as well as testing for purity to ensure the absence of common heavy metals and microbial contaminants.
- USP verified
- Delayed-release capsules to target the small intestine
This multi from subscription-based service Ritual is now USP verified, meaning that it is manufactured in accordance with high-quality standards. As important, it contains critical nutrients for overall health: Ritual's Essential for Women vitamin is 100% vegan and includes folate, omega-3's, B12, D3, iron, K2, boron and magnesium. Ritual's approach is designed to be unique in that the capsules are formulated to delay release of the nutrients and ensure greater absorption. The clinical university-led study, which was funded by the company, indicated that nutrient levels rose within 12 weeks.
- Calcium and magnesium in chelated form
- Formulated without iron
Thorne — a company that works with professional athletes — claims to do thorough research and testing on all of its products, "methodically testing every raw ingredient and every finished good for identity and purity," per its website. This multi is loaded with calcium and magnesium and comes in a highly absorbable chelated form, part of the brand's mission to create supplements that can be absorbed as seamlessly as possible. It contains 240mg of calcium (18% of your DV) plus a significant amount of magnesium — both nutrients could help your muscle and nerve function in the long run. Since iron supplementation is typically not recommended for postmenopausal women, this multi curated for women over 50 does not include iron.
- Non-GMO Project verified
- Certified NSF Gluten Free
This prenatal vitamin incorporates choline into its mix — choline helps support healthy fetal brain development throughout pregnancy. There's methylated folate packed into this supplement as well — it's an active form of folic acid, an essential nutrient for pregnant women. MegaFood's product can be paired with the brand's prenatal DHA and choline supplement if directed by your healthcare provider. This multivitamin has been designed to be taken on an empty stomach (in case you've got "morning" sickness) and can also be purchased in a travel size for ease.
- Non-GMO Project verified
- Certified NSF Gluten-Free
A woman's nutritional needs change after having a baby. Our registered dietitians appreciate that MegaFood keeps the entire prenatal and postnatal continuum in mind, specially supporting the nutritional demands of nursing. This pick includes choline to continue supporting baby's brain development, as well as organic moringa, which may lead to improved milk production. This, too, can be taken on an empty stomach.
- Clean Label Project Purity Award
- NSF Certified
Gummies are a nice alternative to pills for women who have trouble swallowing capsules daily, but according to Consumer Lab tests, the amount of a given nutrient a gummy contains may not be as indicated on the label. Thankfully, Smarty Pants' product has been verified by multiple third parties, so that's not a concern here. It also contains numerous Omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA in healthy amounts. There are no synthetic colors, preservatives, or flavorings, and this gummy is produced in a cGMP-compliant facility (learn more about this FDA-approved practice).
- Kid-friendly gummy form
- Certified gluten-free and non-GMO
Tested by third-party experts at Consumer Labs, this brand's kids formula incorporates essential fatty acids and brain-boosting nutrients like beta carotene and choline, alongside 15 other ingredients to help promote healthy growth for young girls and preteens. The ingredients listed and their dosages are tightly controlled in Smarty Pants' manufacturing to ensure proper nutritional support, and the supplement can be taken with or without food (making it a great item for those always on the go!).
Nutritional experts within the Good Housekeeping Institute evaluated marketing claims and ingredient lists associated with dozens of the best-selling women's vitamins to pinpoint the best supplements overall. Special consideration was paid to determine products better suited for women over the age of 50 and for soon-to-be mothers, with nutrient intake criteria shifting based on guidelines set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Our evaluations are based on the supplement's nutrient content, sourcing methods and manufacturing process, as well as considerations like consumer pricing and availability. Please remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting any dietary supplements.
Ultimately, supplements are just that: additional nutrition from a multivitamin — even the best multivitamins won't replace the need for a balanced, healthy diet. Try to source a multivitamin that doesn't exceed 100% of the daily value (DV) for essential vitamins and minerals, especially fat soluble vitamins, including A, E and K, because these may reach toxic levels quickly.
Choosing a multivitamin designed for women exclusively can be a great idea, especially if you're selecting a product marketed to your age group as well, as manufacturers are likely addressing specific needs women in your age group may have. Multis are often good because they aim to include appropriate amounts as well as the complimentary nutrients that aid in absorption.
And a reminder: Multivitamins aren't evaluated for safety or efficacy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but that doesn't mean you can't look for other signs of quality when you're in the supplement aisle. Try to identify brands that are verified by USP and carry the USP seal, granted by an independent, third-party organization that asserts quality control on multivitamins via purity tests and ingredient fact-checking. Supplements carrying the USP seal have had their ingredient list verified, and have cleared tests for manufacturing contaminants like lead or other heavy metals. Looking for the USP seal can save you from choosing a supplement that is misrepresenting its ingredients. As a 2017 study reveals, multivitamins often contain more of an ingredient than is listed on the label.
Other consumer advocacy organizations like NSF International and ConsumerLab.com also provide testing and verification on some multivitamin products. Shoppers can also turn to the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices to weigh their current multivitamin against these standards.
Additional reporting by Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN.
Before you try adopting a daily multivitamin, be sure to continue to optimize your diet to include more nutrient-rich items naturally — a daily vitamin works best when it's not intended to be a sole source for any given nutrient. Consider maximizing your intake of fiber, antioxidants, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids by loading up on veggies, lean proteins and plant-based proteins as much as possible. Add in fresh fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes as well as unsweetened dairy products into your meals when possible before starting a daily multivitamin regimen for best results.
Unlike probiotics, you shouldn't concern yourself over which time of day to take a multivitamin. When taking multivitamins every day, the healthiest way to do so is to ensure you're not ingesting your multivitamin on an empty stomach — be sure to take your supplement with food or during a meal to minimize any potential stomach discomfort, and to enhance absorption naturally.
For those over 50, calcium and vitamin D sourced through diet is often insufficient, and there are other lifestyle factors in play. The combo functions in tandem: Calcium, stored in your bones, is key for cellular function in muscles, nerves and glands, whereas Vitamin D helps to maintain bone density itself and draws calcium within your GI tract and from kidneys. They also tend to contain less iron, because your need for dietary iron goes down after menopause.
One caveat: Since vitamin D is difficult to get from sunshine alone, you and your doctor may decide that in addition to a multivitamin which contains D, you may need a separate Vitamin D supplement as well.
You'll need to discuss your supplement routine with your doctor before your pregnancy gets too far along. Per recommendations made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you should source four nutrients in particular: Folic acid (600mcg), choline (450mg), iodine (220mcg), and iron (27 mg).
Obstetricians have historically stressed the importance of folic acid — which reduces the risk of fetal brain defects during the first trimester — as well as choline, an often overlooked vitamin that supports brain development and lowers the risk of birth defects. Both of these nutrients are found in protein-rich eggs and staples like whole grains, but can still be tricky to get through food alone. Working with your OB/GYN to determine any nutrient holes in your current diet as your pregnancy gets underway can ensure you're pulling the best supplement for healthy development.
While not every product featured in this guide has been personally sampled by our experts, each product and its nutritional information as well as marketing materials, were analyzed by Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN, NASM-CPT, the deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab. Stefani is dedicated to evidence-based diet and nutrition reporting. She takes the pulse of the latest nutrition research and trends, translating to readers what principles are science-backed and worth incorporating into a healthy lifestyle — and what fads are worth avoiding.
In his role as Health Editor, Zee Krstic works hand in hand with nutrition authorities in the Good Housekeeping Institute to evaluate consumer products in the diet and nutrition industry. He fostered a strong background in holistic nutrition early in his career through previous work with a team of registered dietitians at Cooking Light.