5 multitasking ingredients women’s multivitamins may be missing

Hearts and bones, brains and mood, anxiety and sleep, beauty-from-within and period pain — we’ve got women’s concerns covered with five heavyweight supplement ideas.

Charlotte Traas, Vice President of Sales

July 1, 2024

4 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Vitamin K2
  • Methylcobalamin
  • Lion's mane

Women today are masters at multitasking; and while they understand the need for nutrient-rich diets plentiful in fiber and vitamins, in actuality, dinner can sometimes look like leftover chicken nuggets and a glass of red wine (for the resveratrol, of course). To cover our bases, many women turn to a mighty multivitamin to give them nutritional insurance for what their diets could be lacking. Here’s my list of five ingredients that — regardless of whether they are in one’s daily multivitamin — would still do well positioned as a value-add supplement, especially in light of women’s busy lifestyles. 

1. Vitamin K2 

K2 is included in some multivitamins, but the oft-asked question is, is it enough? K2, also known as a group of menaquinones, is a nutrient found in fermented foods, like natto, which are often vastly missing in many people’s diets. K2 is fat soluble and has been used in the treatment of osteoporosis in Japan, thanks to burgeoning research on K2 supporting bone health by its unique ability to help steer calcium to the areas of the body that need it. In the study, women were eating natto, known to be rich in K2, and experienced reduced bone loss. 

The research is still early, but another study identified K2 akin to a heart-health superstar — because as it’s directing calcium to the bones, the nutrient likely contributes in preventing that calcium from sticking around in the arteries. One study showed that increasing K2 intake by 10 mcg may decrease the risk of heart disease by 9%. So if a woman’s diet is scarce on egg yolks, blue cheese and natto … supplementing additional K2 might be advantageous for heart and bone health. 

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2. Methylcobalamin 

Although B12 has strong research ties to red blood cell formation, newer research shows the B vitamin possibly aids eye health, as well as the formation of myelin (a protective layer that surrounds the nerves) and even mood. This versatile nutrient is essential for women — but while many multivitamins contain B12, the most common form used is cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin’s converted form, methylcobalamin, is often not used in supplementation due to a higher price point. For some individuals, spending more for methylcobalamin could be key in getting the nutrient they need. 

Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of B12 that the body can take in and convert into either methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin, which are the two active forms the body can use. Adenosylcobalamin is important in the metabolism of fats and amino acids, so cyanocobalamin has a place beside methylcobalamin in a person’s supplement regimen. However, a category of people who have a gene variant called MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) need the supplementation of methylcobalamin, since their body has a different conversion rate that can affect the amount of methylcobalamin in the body. 

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Where we tend to hear about MTHFR most is with folic acid being converted to methylfolate during pregnancy to support the neural tube development in infants. But people with the gene variant could also be impacted by how their bodies process cyanocobalamin and convert it into methylcobalamin. Taking B12 in the methylated form saves the body from the conversion, otherwise at risk of compromise by the MTHFR gene. 

3. Lion’s mane 

Staying sharp as we age or juggle daily tasks can be a concern. Lion’s mane is a multifunctional mushroom thought to boost both brain and mood. 

The functional fungus looks like a puffy waterfall stuck to the side of a dead tree and has the scientific name Hericium erinaceus, translating to “hedgehog.” Now you know! 

Lion’s mane is possibly linked to neurite outgrowth — little tendrils that reach out in the brain and assist brain cells in communicating with one another by helping to improve nerve growth factor levels. In a clinical study on 50- to 80-year-olds with mild cognitive impairment, subjects supplementing with 1,000 mg of lion’s mane showed significant improvement; however, once they stopped taking it, scores declined again, so results are theorized to be tied to consistent supplementation. 

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Mood is another possible beneficiary, with a study showing that participants who took lion’s mane for eight consecutive weeks experienced improved sleep, as well as significantly reduced anxiety and depression. 

To read all about the final two ingredients — one old, one new — download the free Natural Products Insider digital magazine here. The issue covers the emerging perimenopause sector, a wealth of ingredients for postmenopause, how to market to women the right way, and the how to build a longevity supplement that lasts.  

About the Author(s)

Charlotte Traas

Vice President of Sales, TopGum Gummiceuticals

Charlotte Traas is vice president of sales for TopGum Gummiceuticals. She is a supplement futurist, master herbalist, sales strategist and gummy expert. She has more than 10 years of teaching, curriculum and content development experience and previously worked for New Chapter and The Natural Way. She is on the Natural Products Insider editorial advisory board.

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