Those who are older than 50 have unique needs when it comes to multivitamins. However, until you're age 50 or post-menopausal, women need more iron and folic acid, so they should see our discussion of Multivitamins for Women for our recommendations. Men also have different needs before age 50, so they should see the section on Multivitamins for Men.
According to the Institute of Medicine, older adults may not absorb between 10 and 30 percent of the vitamin B12 in their food. Although the official DV for vitamin B12 remains at 2.4 mcg throughout adulthood, some experts advise people over 50 to look for 25 mcg of B12 in their multivitamin. The Institute of Medicine hasn't set a UL because there's a low risk for toxicity.
Based on the latest guidelines, the Institute of Medicine recommends 1,200 mg of calcium per day for women over 50 and men over 70. Both men and women over the age of 70 are advised to get 800 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily. Other nutrient needs are largely the same, although women over the age of 50 can reduce their daily intake of iron from 18 mg to 8 mg, an amount that's usually easy to get from food.
It's important to know that the vitamin K in multivitamins might interfere with blood-thinning medications like Warfarin, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you take a blood thinner, talk to your doctor about your vitamin K needs before you start taking a multivitamin. The Institute of Medicine has set the adequate intake of vitamin K at 90 mcg for adult females and 120 mcg for adult males.
For adults 50 and older, two respected testing organizations recommend Centrum Silver, Adults + 50 (Est. $20 for 220 tablets). Centrum Silver contains 25 mcg of vitamin B12 and no iron. Its 220 mg of calcium is only a fraction of what's recommended for older adults, and its 500 IU of vitamin D also falls short of current recommendations, so ask your doctor whether you need additional supplements in this area. The multi also contains 30 mcg of vitamin K.
Centrum Silver Adults 50+ gets good reviews from users at Amazon.com. Most say that the one daily pill is easy to take and causes no noticeable stomach upset or other side effects.
Testing shows that store-brand multivitamins work just as well as the more expensive name brands, but at a lower price. Kirkland Signature Mature Adults 50+ Multi (Est. $13 for 400 tablets) is another 50+ formula that meets accuracy-in-labeling requirements in both current and past testing. This is Costco's store brand, but nonmembers can purchase the multivitamin at Costco.com for a small additional fee or on Amazon.com. Based on recommendations that older adults should get more vitamin B12 in supplement form, the Kirkland Signature multi contains 25 mcg of B12. It also has 2,500 IU of vitamin A with 40 percent as beta-carotene, 500 IU of vitamin D and 220 mg of calcium. It doesn't contain iron, but does have 30 mcg of vitamin K.
CVS Spectravite Adult 50+ Multivitamin (Est. $17 for 260 tablets) also fares well in recent independent tests of multivitamins; passing for containing the ingredients listed on the label and dissolving properly. This multivitamin contains 25 mcg of vitamin B12, 500 IU of vitamin D, 2,500 IU of vitamin A and 220 mg of calcium. It is free of iron. It's also gluten, soy, dairy and wheat free.
One-A-Day multivitamins are solid picks as well, but are more expensive than store brands from Costco and CVS. One-A-Day Women's 50+ Advantage (Est. $14 for 120 tablets) and Men's 50+ Healthy Advantage (Est. $25 for 200 tablets) are two multivitamins that meet or exceed the current recommendations for vitamin D for older adults. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D for adults over 50 and 800 IU for those over 70. The One-A-Day women's supplement contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D, while the men's version contains 700 IU. Other nutrients in Men's 50+ Advantage include 20 mcg of vitamin K and 25 mcg of vitamin B12. Women's 50+ Advantage contains 500 mg of calcium compared to 120 mg in the men's version.