Like the other groups mentioned, people older than 50 have unique needs when it comes to multivitamins. According to the Institute of Medicine, seniors 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 multi. 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 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.
Seniors should note 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 multi. The Institute of Medicine has set the adequate intake of vitamin K at 90 mcg for adult females and 120 mcg for adult males.
Two respected testing organizations recommend Centrum Silver Adults 50+ (*Est. $9 for 100 tablets); it passes both ConsumerReports.org and ConsumerLab.com tests with flying colors. 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 seniors, and its 500 IU of vitamin D also falls short of current recommendations. As 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, with most saying the one daily pill is easy to take and causes no noticeable stomach upset or other side effects. "This product covers all the bases to make sure you get at least the minimum required for health," says one user. "I highly suggest it to anyone looking for a simple multivitamin to help meet your basic needs," says another.
Testing shows that store-brand multivitamins work just as well as the more expensive name brands -- at a cheaper price. Kirkland Signature Mature Adults 50+ Multi (*Est. $12 for 400 tablets) is another senior formula that passes tests at both ConsumerReports.org and ConsumerLab.com. This is Costco's store brand, but nonmembers can purchase the multivitamin at Costco.com for a small additional fee -- 57 cents at the time of our visit -- or at Smart & Final stores.
Based on recommendations that seniors 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. The few consumer reviews at Costco.com are positive, with users saying the Mature Adults 50+ formula doesn't contain excess amounts of vitamins and minerals like some multis. ConsumerReports.org also likes it because it's inexpensive and contains "reasonable amounts" of essential nutrients.
Other store brands also fare well in recent independent tests of multivitamins. Member's Mark Mature Multi (*Est. $13 for 400 tablets) sold at Sam's Club wins approval from ConsumerLab.com; tests show it contains the ingredients listed on the label and dissolves properly. This senior 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. We found no user reviews of this multi, but ConsumerLab.com's approval is a good sign. Walmart's Equate Mature Multivitamin A Thru Z Adults 50+ (*Est. $6 for 100 tablets) passes tests at both ConsumerLab.com and ConsumerReports.org. Nutrient amounts are similar to the Member's Mark multi, including 500 IU of vitamin D, 30 mcg of vitamin K, 220 mg of calcium and 25 mcg of vitamin B12.
Spectravite Senior Multivitamin/Multimineral (*Est. $10 for 260 tablets), sold at CVS, is another store brand that earns a nod in recent testing. The one-a-day tablet contains 25 mcg of vitamin B12, 400 IU of vitamin D, 200 mg of calcium and 30 mcg of vitamin K.
One-A-Day multivitamins are solid picks as well, but are more expensive than store brands from Costco and Walmart. One-A-Day Women's 50+ Advantage (*Est. $17 for 150 tablets) and Men's 50+ Advantage (*Est. $22 for 150 tablets) are two multis that meet or exceed the current recommendations for vitamin D for seniors. 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 multi. The men's formula also has 157 percent of the DV for selenium, although Bayer can no longer claim that this nutrient may help prevent prostate cancer. The company paid a settlement in 2010 for advertising a link between selenium and prostate cancer prevention that isn't supported by scientific evidence.