Those who are older than 50 have unique needs when it comes to multivitamins. However, until they'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 nutritional 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 daily value (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 an upper limit (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, Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement, Adults + 50 (Est. $20 for 220 tablets). Centrum Silver was the multivitamin used in a large, 2012 study of male physicians 50 years of age or older with positive results including a lower instance of some cancers (there was no significant effect on the risk of cardiovascular disease or prostate cancer, however). The major benefits of taking Centrum Silver specifically, if you do decide a multivitamin is right for you, is that year after year it is subjected to rigorous testing to confirm that it does, indeed, have the levels of ingredients that it claims on the label. While that may seem like a low, bar, that means that you will get a modest boost in your nutrient requirements without risking vitamin toxicity.
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 these areas. The multi also contains 30 mcg of vitamin K; again, we suggest you speak to your physician before taking Centrum Silver if you currently take a blood thinner.
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.
There are three generic vitamins that are mostly identical in formulation to Centrum Silver and also pass accuracy-in-labeling requirements, yet will cost you less per day. They're not quite as widely available as Centrum, since they're exclusive to specific retailers. The first of these has ingredients that are identical to those in Centrum's multi: Equate Mature Multivitamin Adults 50+ (Est. $7 for 220 tablets). Equate is exclusive to Walmart.
If you have gluten sensitivities, there are two generic multivitamins that are also identical to Centrum's formula, but are gluten, wheat and yeast free. DG Health Adult Formula Complete 50+ ($4 for 125) is exclusive to Dollar General stores, and CVS Spectravite Adult 50+ Multivitamin (Est. $17 for 260 tablets), which is exclusive to CVS.
One-A-Day multivitamins are solid picks as well, so if for some reason you can't find, or can't tolerate, one of our suggestions above, we suggest you give them a try. One-A-Day Women's 50+ Advantage (Est. $16 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. While neither of these multivitamins appear in the most recent product-labeling tests we reviewed, One-A-Day has an excellent reputation for quality, and many of their products have been reviewed in past roundups and found to be accurate.