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Multi Matters: Vitamin Needs by Age

Dr. Liz Applegate, PhD

Health Notes by Dr. Liz

Debating whether or not to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement routinely for good measure and better health? Before you pop a vitamin-mineral pill, know that a healthful diet with ample fresh veggies and fruit, along with a selection of whole grains, beans, lean proteins and healthy fats is key to promoting optimal health and preventing of age-related diseases. With this basic eating plan as a foundation, here are some considerations in choosing a daily supplement.

Children (under 12)

  • Select an age-appropriate multi that supplies no more than 100% of needs for a child. 

  • Be sure an adult dispenses the supplement to the child, as certain vitamins and minerals in high amounts can be risky. 

  • Keep all dietary supplements out of a child’s reach as some (such as tasty gummy-style multis) may be tempting to consume more than one at a time.

Teens & Young Adults

  • Consider a multi that supplies additional calcium and magnesium (approximately 50% of Daily Value) for teens and young adults who have higher needs for bone growth.

Women (18–45)

  • Select a multi with 100% iron, folate, B6 and B12. These nutrients help support healthy pre-pregnancy planning and circulation.
  • If you are pregnant, consult with your obstetrician for a prenatal supplement. 

Women (50+)

  • Choose a supplement with extra calcium and magnesium as needs rise with age.

Men (50+)

  • Look for low or no iron in your multi as your body does not need extra and it may even pose a heart-health risk.

All Adults

  • Choose a multivitamin-mineral supplement that supplies roughly 25 to <200% of your need for nutrients. Avoid mega-dosing (200%+ of need) as this does not boost health according to research and may block uptake of other micronutrients from foods.
  • Consume your multi with a meal, preferably in the morning to optimize absorption. 

  • Review your multi choice with your health care professional to ensure there are no potential prescription drug interactions with the dietary supplement use.
  • Dr. Liz Applegate, PhD