Your nutritional needs will evolve as you age — your body will require higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals and lower amounts of others. That's why the best multivitamin for older adults looks different than a daily vitamin a younger person might take.
Here, a look at recommended multivitamins for older adults, along with tips about what to look for in the vitamin aisle.
- Best Overall: Equate Complete Multivitamin 50+ ($12.98, Walmart.com)
- Best for Men: Member's Mark Men 50+ Multivitamin ($42.95, Amazon.com)
- Best for Women: Thorne Women’s Multi 50+ ($45, Walmart.com)
- Best With Vitamin D: CVS Health Spectravite Adult 50+ Tablets Value Size ($22.99, CVS.com)
- Best for People Going Through Menopause: Bayer One A Day Women’s 50+ ($29.05, Amazon.com)
- Best for Eye Health: Ocuvite Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement ($19.97, Amazon.com)
1. Best Overall: Equate Complete Multivitamin 50+
The Equate Complete Multivitamin 50+ is listed as a top pick for adults over age 50 in an April 2020 review of multivitamins and supplements from ConsumerLabs, an organization that independently tests health and nutritional products. It contains more than your daily value of vitamin D, with 1,000 IU, and also provides potassium and calcium, which are important for older adults.
Don't shy away from generics, certified gerontological specialist Phyllis Famularo, RD for Sodexo North America and adjunct assistant professor at Rutgers University, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"While Centrum Silver is a household name, a generic multivitamin will be much less expensive and have almost the same composition," Famularo says.
Equate Complete Multivitamin 50+ ($12.98, Walmart.com)
2. Best for Men: Member's Mark Men 50+ Multivitamin
This multi is another top pick from the ConsumerLabs review — this time, for men over age 50. Each pill contains more than your recommended daily value (DV) for vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as B6 and B12. It also contains 16 percent of the DV for calcium.
Member's Mark Men 50+ Multivitamin ($42.95, Amazon.com)
3. Best for Women: Thorne Women’s Multi 50+
This multi from a reputable brand provides 18 percent of your DV of calcium, which helps to keep bones strong. It's also a good source of magnesium.
Many Americans do not get enough of this mineral. People who are over age 51 should get between 320 and 420 micrograms per day, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. This multi has 180 micrograms (or 42 percent of your DV).
Thorne Women’s Multi 50+ ($45, Walmart.com)
4. Best With Vitamin D: CVS Health Spectravite Adult 50+ Tablets
This generic vitamin offers 125 percent of your DV of vitamin D. It also offers 22 percent of your DV of calcium. Both are important to bone health, and something adults over age 70 need more than they did in their youth, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
CVS Health Spectravite Adult 50+ Tablets Value Size ($22.99, CVS.com)
5. Best for People Going Through Menopause: Bayer One A Day Women’s 50+
This once-a-day multi is another top pick from ConsumerLabs. It has 12 percent of your DV of magnesium and 23 percent of your DV of calcium. It has 1,000 IU of vitamin D (more than your recommended daily allowance).
Plus, it does not contain iron, which isn't recommended after menopause, per the Mayo Clinic.
Bayer One A Day Women’s 50+ ($29.05, Amazon.com)
6. Best for Eye Health: Ocuvite Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement
This multi is one of Famularo's recommendations for older adults with a risk of age-related macular degeneration. It contains 5 milligrams of lutein, which is one of several minerals and supplements that can help lower your risk of this condition, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The multi contains the other recommended minerals and vitamins — zinc, vitamins E and C, copper and zeaxanthin — as well.
Ocuvite Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement ($19.97, Amazon.com)
What to Look for in a Multivitamin for Older Adults
Vitamins geared toward older adults typically contain more vitamin D and vitamin B12 and less iron, according to Harvard Health Publishing. They might also contain herbs targeted toward memory and energy.
While the best multivitamin for you depends on your lifestyle and health status, here are some of the vitamins and minerals that are particularly important for older adults.
Vitamin B12 is, hands down, one of the best vitamins for older adults. That's because, with age, many are unable to absorb it from food, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They can, however, absorb this important vitamin when it's present in fortified foods or supplements. Aim to get 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily.
Most of the vitamin D in your body is made when your skin is exposed to the sun, according to a June 2019 article in StatPearls. But with age, your skin's ability to make vitamin D declines, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Because it's so difficult to get vitamin D from the food you eat, adults up to 70 years old should look for a multivitamin with a daily dose of 600 IU and adults aged 71 and older should go for 800 IU per day.
Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand. The two nutrients work together to keep your bones healthy and have been shown to reduce the risk of fractures and falls in older adults, according to the NIH. Not getting enough calcium increases your risk of high blood pressure and osteoporosis, per the Cleveland Clinic.
The recommended dietary allowance (or RDA) for calcium is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams per day for adults between 51 and 70 and 1,200 milligrams for adults aged 71 and older, per the NIH.
Even though multivitamins are readily available over the counter, they can be harmful when mixed with certain medications, according to the FDA. For instance, taking both warfarin and vitamin E can increase potential for internal bleeding or stroke, as both act as blood thinners.
And, people who have kidney disease should speak to their health care provider before taking a multi. “There are special preparations developed for these individuals,” Famularo says.
Always talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement — especially if you're taking medication.
How to Choose a Multivitamin for Older Adults
The supplement industry isn't very tightly regulated, making it difficult to navigate. In addition to paying attention to the quantities of all of the nutrients of concern, it's also important to make sure you're getting a high-quality supplement that doesn't have any fillers, artificial ingredients or added sugars.
The American Cancer Society provides some guidelines on how to choose the best multivitamin for older adults and stay safe when taking supplements:
- Look for reputable brands. Consider the name and reputation of the manufacturer or distributor and do some research on whether or not there have been any claims made against them.
- Check the label for third-party certifications. Look for supplements that have USP or NF on the label. This means that the manufacturer of the product followed standards set by the US Pharmacopeia (or USP), an organization that develops quality standards for supplements.
- Follow dosage instructions — either from the label or from your doctor.
Decide Whether You Need Supplements
Most older folks following a regular, healthy diet probably get enough nutrients from their diet, according to Harvard Health Publishing. But there can be exceptions.
If you have a poor diet or you don't have a very good appetite, supplements can help bridge the gap between what you're getting from your food and what your body needs to stay healthy. Older adults who have trouble absorbing nutrients may also need the higher doses of vitamins and minerals that you get from supplements.
If you're unsure about what route is best for you, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian — these experts can help guide you and develop a healthy supplement regimen for you if you need one.
- AARP: "Supplements to Take in Your 50s, 60s and 70s"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Should You Take 'Senior' Multivitamins?"
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: "Micronutrients for Older Adults"
- National Institute on Aging: "Vitamins and Minerals"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?"
- National Council on Aging: "Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors"
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: "Healthy Eating As We Age"
- Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics: "Potential Dietary Supplement and Medication Interactions in a Subset of the Older Adult Population Attending Congregate Sites"
- Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences: "The Neuropsychiatry of Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Elderly Patients"
- International Psychogeriatrics: "Cognitive Impairment and Vitamin B12: A Review"
- Journal of Aging and Gerontology: "The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Increasing Dietary Calcium"
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids"
- American Cancer Society: "Choosing and Using Dietary Supplements Safely"
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin D"
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Calcium"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The A List of B12 Foods"
- ConsumerLabs: "Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplements Review"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Magnesium"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults"
- Mayo Clinic: "Iron Supplementation Typically Not Recommended for Postmenopausal Women"
- American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Vitamins for AMD"
- FDA: "Mixing Medications and Dietary Supplements Can Endanger Your Health"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin B12"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin B-12"
- StatPearls: "Vitamin D Deficiency"
- Mayo Clinic: "Mayo Clinic Q and A: How much vitamin D do I need?"