The Most Important Vitamins to Take for Women
Women who are malnourished or have certain vitamin deficiencies may face a variety of health threats. They may be weakened which ca n affect their ability to survive childbirth, be more susceptible to develop infections, and have fewer reserves to draw from to recover from an illness.
Post-menopausal women have other health threats such as osteoporosis and other disorders if they lack enough vitamin K or D, calcium, and other key nutrients. Lacking vitamins A and C may put them at a greater risk of losing their vision. Ideally, women should get enough essential nutrients from their diet, but if they do not, they may want to consider taking a multivitamin. Women should make sure certain vitamins and minerals are included in their diet or multivitamins. Women of all ages should make sure they get enough of these key nutrients.
- Vitamins A, C, and E or antioxidants – These three vitamins work to fight damage from free radicals which can cause aging and a variety of diseases. Vitamin C can improve immunity against numerous infections and illnesses like colds. But it is also essential for protecting your skin and vision. Vitamins A and E also protect healthy cells and stop cell mutations along with a variety of other benefits.
- Vitamin D3 – Some foods contain vitamin D3 such as eggs, certain mushrooms and a few dairy products. However, we mostly get D from being exposed to sunlight. Women who do not spend enough time outdoors are at risk for having a vitamin D deficiency. Some suggest between 75 and 90 percent of US adults may be deficient. This vitamin is necessary for one health, brain functions, maintaining hormonal balance and preventing mood disorders. Women who do not spend 15 to 20 minutes outdoors most days, or those who wear sunscreen a lot, may need to consider a supplement.
- Vitamin K – To build and maintain strong bones, prevent heart disease and allow the blood to clot, vitamin K is necessary. Many women lack this important nutrient and consuming enough of it can help prevent cardiovascular complications. There are two types of vitamin K in foods. K1 is present in veggies and K2 is present in dairy products. Eating plenty of vegetables, fish, and eggs can prevent a deficiency.
- B Vitamins & Folate – B12, folate and the other B vitamins are essential to the female metabolism. They can help prevent fatigue and boost cognitive function. Since they work with other vitamins such as iron to create red blood cells, they encourage cell growth. They also help with the process of turning calories eaten into useable fuel. Folate is necessary to maintain a healthy pregnancy. It’s an essential element for the developing fetus and can help prevent birth defects because it is useful in building the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Animal products like fish, milk, yogurt, meat and cage-free eggs contain B vitamins. For older women and those who follow a plant-based diet like vegan or vegetarian need to work closely with a medical professional to ensure they get enough B vitamins because they are at a greater risk of developing a deficiency. Foods that are particularly high in folate include leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, melon, beans and citrus fruits.
There are also some minerals and fatty acids that need to be consumed or included in a multivitamin. Women need to prevent a deficiency in these as well.
- Iron – Anemia and and iron deficiency are preventable. The body makes use of iron to produce hemoglobin. This is a particular type of protein that takes oxygen from the lungs and transports it throughout the body via the blood. There is heme and non-heme iron and the kind in animal proteins such as eggs, fish, poultry, and meat is the easiest for the body to absorb and use. Women, in general, need to consume adequate amounts of iron because of the blood lost during the menstruation process. Women who do not get enough iron can suffer poor immunity, fatal infections, fatigue, bleeding episodes and dangerous pregnancies.
- Iodine – If you compare all the age groups, women from 20 to 39 years of age have the lowest iodine levels in their urine than any of the others. Iodine is necessary for the thyroid gland to produce the T3 adnT4 hormones which are helpful for controlling the metabolism. It is also important for younger women who are pregnant or those who want to become pregnant as it plays a critical role in the development of the fetus’s brain. The western diet contains a lot of iodine because salt is iodized and used in prepackaged foods as well as refined grains. These items had iodine added on purpose to avoid deficiencies. It’s better if you can get iodine from foods that contain it naturally such as sea vegetables and seafood. Preventing a deficiency of this mineral can help provide protection from goiters, hormone imbalance, troubled pregnancies, fatigue, and hyperthyroidism.
- Magnesium – Even though magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, it is also a very common deficiency. It is an electrolyte that is useful for regulating calcium, sodium, and potassium. Soil depletion has lead to foods having less magnesium than in the past. There are also some conditions which can lower a person’s magnesium such as chronic stress, digestive disorders, leaky gut syndrome or medications. Consuming nuts, seeds, beans, sea vegetables, and leafy green vegetables can prevent a deficiency and the side effects such as constipation, anxiety, muscle spasms, insomnia, leg cramps, and digestive issues.
- Fish Oils/Omega-3 – Eating seafood such as sardines, halibut, tuna, mackerel and salmon on a regular basis can ensure you have enough omega-3s. If you do not eat these foods frequently, it’s important to take a supplement to prevent being deficient. Your body needs omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and to get the best ratio of these two healthy fats you need to consume wild-caught fish or take a supplement.
- Calcium – Calcium is very good for maintaining bone strength, but it is also important for regulating the rhythm of the heart, aiding muscles, and controlling both cholesterol and blood pressure. When calcium is consumed with vitamin D and magnesium studies have shown it helps protect women from threats like osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D or magnesium, it can have difficulty absorbing calcium which can lead to a deficiency. Consuming raw milk, kefir, yogurt and organic plant foods can help ensure your body gets enough of this essential mineral.