Supplements Compositions Types

There are a number of multivitamins on the market, all of which are geared toward a different segment of the population. There are multivitamins for adults, multivitamins for seniors and multivitamins for children. Within these categories, there are men’s multivitamins and women’s multivitamins.

Multivitamins will contain different ingredients based on the populations for which they are made. For instance, a multivitamin for women will more than likely contain more calcium and iron than a men’s multivitamin.

Before beginning a multivitamin regimen, it is important to learn about the different types of multivitamins and their varying compositions. Finding the right multivitamin can help keep you healthy and strong.

Types of Multivitamins

Here’s a list of some of the more popular types of multivitamins on the market. Each has a different composition to target health issues specific to its intended users:

  • Children’s Multivitamins: Multivitamins for children are formulated to meet the needs of growing children. They are particularly helpful for children who are picky eaters and who, therefore, do not eat a balanced diet. When choosing a multivitamin for children, parents should look for one whose composition provides a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals without overdosing. A good bet is to choose a multivitamin whose composition provides no more than 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins and minerals. If you think your child might be getting too many vitamins, you might want to give her only half of the recommended dosage. Talk to your doctor about which children’s multivitamin is best for your child. Also ask him about vitamin dosage.
  • Men’s Multivitamins: Men’s multivitamins aim to provide men with the nutrients they need to stay healthy and strong. Men should be getting:
    • 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium
    • 700 mg of phosphorus
    • 410 mg of magnesium
    • 90 mg vitamin C
    • 15 mg vitamin E
    • 16 mg of niacin
    • 1.3 mg riboflavin
    • 1.3 mg vitamin B6
    • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folate
    • 2.4 mcg vitamin B12.

    While some of these vitamins and minerals are lacking in many men’s diets, others are present in excess. Talk to your doctor about your diet and current health to determine whether you should take a multivitamin or a single-component vitamin.

  • Prenatal Multivitamins: Prenatal multivitamins help provide women with the nutrients they need to nourish themselves and their developing babies. While some pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive get plenty of vitamins and minerals from their diets, others, especially those who are suffering from morning sickness, could benefit from a prenatal multivitamin. Other women who would benefit from a prenatal vitamin are:
    • women who are carrying multiples
    • women who are lactose-intolerant or who have other food intolerances
    • women who are vegans or vegetarians
    • women who smoke or who abuse drugs
    • women with health conditions, including blood disorders
    • women with restricted diets.

    The composition of prenatal vitamins is formulated to ensure that women get a sufficient amount of folic acid each day. Women should get 400 mcg of folic acid at least one month before they start trying to conceive and at least 600 mcg once they become pregnant. In addition, prenatal vitamins provide women with the iron they need during pregnancy.

  • Senior Multivitamins: Often, seniors don’t get the vitamins and minerals they need to keep their aging bodies healthy. While some seniors might be taking medications that prevent their bodies from properly absorbing vitamins, others have conditions that make eating difficult. If you are a senior and are concerned about malnutrition, talk to your doctor about your diet. He will be able to tell you if you need a multivitamin. In general, seniors don’t get enough vitamin D, which is essential to bone health and can help prevent osteoporosis, and are also deficient in vitamins A, C, E and K. A multivitamin for seniors should contain these vitamins as well as antioxidants to prevent cell damage. Talk to your doctor to find a multivitamin with the right composition for your health needs.
  • Women’s Multivitamins: Women have unique health needs and, therefore, require different multivitamins than men. In general, women of childbearing age need more iron than men, as iron levels drop dramatically during menstruation. The best multivitamins for women will have a composition that features the recommended daily values of iron, calcium and folic acid. Of course, women’s health needs will change throughout life. For instance, menopausal women will need different vitamins than women in their 20s. Talk to your doctor to find the multivitamin that is best for you.


BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board (updated November 2005). Prenatal vitamin supplements: A nutritional insurance policy. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the BabyCenter Web site:

Healthy Living (n.d.). Vitamins for Seniors: Vitamins and the Elderly. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Healthy Living Web site:

Helm, Janet (n.d.). Multivitamin Mishaps. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the ABC News Web site: