Your nutritional needs 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.
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Here's 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)
- Best for Men: Member's Mark Men 50+ Multivitamin ($9.99, Sam's Club)
- Best for Women: Thorne Women’s Multi 50+ ($29.82, Walmart)
- Best for People Going Through Menopause: Bayer One A Day Women’s 50+ ($14.45, iHerb)
- Best Women's Gummy: Smarty Pants Masters 50+ Multivitamin ($25.64, Amazon)
- Best Men's Gummy: Smarty Pants Men’s Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin ($24.22, Amazon)
How We Chose
The FDA doesn't closely regulate supplements as it does medications, so we spoke with a dietitian and reviewed relevant research to recommend the supplements below.
We also looked for products with Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations enforced by the FDA as well as compliance or verification from one of the three main independent quality control groups that test and review supplements:
A quick language note: We understand that gender is a spectrum, but we use the terms "men" and "women" here to match the vitamin manufacturers' language.
Even though multivitamins are readily available over the counter, they can be harmful when mixed with certain medications, per the FDA.
For instance, taking both warfarin and vitamin E can increase the risk for internal bleeding or stroke, as both act as blood thinners. And, people with kidney disease should speak to their docs before taking a multi because there are special multis developed for them, says certified gerontological specialist Phyllis Famularo, RD for Sodexo and adjunct assistant professor at Rutgers University.
Always talk to your doctor before adding a new supplement — especially if you're taking medication.
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 ConsumerLab, 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.
And don't shy away from generics. "While Centrum Silver is a household name, a generic multivitamin will be much less expensive and have almost the same composition," Famularo says.
2. Best for Men: Member's Mark Men 50+ Multivitamin
This multi is another top pick from the ConsumerLab review — this time, for people assigned male at birth 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.
Sam's Club ($9.99)
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).
4. Best for People Going Through Menopause: Bayer One A Day Women’s 50+
This once-a-day multi is another top pick from ConsumerLab. 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 any iron, a mineral thatisn't recommended after menopause, per the Mayo Clinic.
5. Best Women's Gummy: Smarty Pants Masters 50+ Multivitamin
Gummies taste great, but the problem with these chewable supps is that it's hard to get them right: Many gummy vitamin's nutritional makeup don't match what's on the label. But ConsumerLab reassures Smarty Pants lives up to its claims.
This tasty multi contains 150 percent of your DV for vitamin D as well as your full DV for biotin, vitamin E and other nutrients.
6. Best Men's Gummy: Smarty Pants Men’s Formula Daily Gummy Multivitamin
If swallowing large pills is a struggle for you, a gummy is a good way to go. This one contains 200 percent of your DV for vitamin D as well as other important nutrients, such as B12 and omega-3s.
Plus, Smarty Pants is approved by ConsumerLab, which notes that the brand is a reliable and nutritionally accurate gummy vitamin.
Nutrients Older Adults Need in a Multivitamin
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.
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?"