Vitamins for Women: Which Supplements Do Women Really Need?

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Vitamins for Women"Vitamin C. Folic acid. Vitamin D. Consumers encounter these substances through food and drug advertising so frequently that they may not give a second thought to what they are or why they’re needed. Unfortunately, due to a diet high in processed foods and the fact that even farmed foods are of lower nutritional quality than they were even a few decades ago, many Americans may not be getting the vitamins they need—women in particular.

Because of hormonal differences between women and men, particularly where reproductive health is concerned, women have specific nutritional needs and specific vitamin requirements. Vitamins are chemicals that can’t be produced by the body but that we need for the variety of functions they perform, from strengthening the immune system to helping blood clot to aiding in the absorption of other nutrients that we eat. In women, they aid in fetal development as well as personal growth and development, keep our bones strong and skin healthy, and can act as antioxidants to reduce cancer risk.

Getting familiar with the six kinds of vitamins (including all the B vitamins) can help you to determine which ones you might not be getting enough of. In most cases, a multivitamin is recommended for women, as taking vitamins simultaneously can enhance absorption. But certain populations, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women or those taking other medications, may require additional supplementation.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamins A, D, E, and K, are absorbed via lipids in the intestines during digestion. Because they remain in the body once digested, there is a risk of toxicity, so it’s important to stick to recommended daily guidelines.

Vitamin A plays a role in keeping the eyes healthy as well as in regulating oil production in the skin (retinol, popular in skincare products, is a form of Vitamin A) and maintaining bone health. It’s found in fortified milk and egg yolks; beta carotene, a related nutrient often packaged with Vitamin A, is found in dark-green leafy vegetables and dark-orange produce. Adult women should aim for up to 5,000 IU/day (pregnant women should not exceed this amount).

Vitamin D has lately been front and center for its role in bone health, as it aids in calcium absorption. It’s also been linked to reduction of PMS symptoms. Vitamin D is found in milk, soy milk, fortified cereals, and some fish like salmon and sardines. Adult women (up to age 50; also pregnant and breastfeeding) require 200 IU of Vitamin D a day.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help prevent heart disease and cancer. It also fights cell damage, making it a go-to anti-aging nutrient. Vitamin E is found in nuts, wheat germ, and spinach. Adult women (pregnant women included) should aim for 30 IU daily.

Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting and is also linked to bone health. It’s found primarily in leafy greens. Adult women (pregnant women included) require up to 90 micrograms of Vitamin K daily.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

The water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). Because they dissolve easily in water, an excess of these vitamins is typically excreted from the body via urine; therefore toxicity is uncommon. Below is a discussion of Vitamin C and perhaps the three most important B vitamins for women: B6, B9, and B12.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant best known for its role in boosting immune response. It’s also essential for healthy skin as it maintains tissue by manufacturing collagen and may repair sun damage. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, bright-colored vegetables, and leafy greens. Adult women should get 75 milligrams daily (85 for pregnant women as it aids in folic acid and iron absorption).

Vitamin B6 aids in the production of hormones and chemicals in the brain, so it’s essential for women on hormonal birth control, who experience PMS symptoms, or who suffer from depression. It can be found in chicken, fish, and lean red meat as well as in potatoes, bananas, whole grains, beans, and seeds. Adult women (pregnant women included) should take 2 milligrams a day.

Vitamin B9, which is more often referred to as folic acid, is important to the growth and reproduction of body cells and prevents birth defects, making it an essential supplement for pregnant women. It is found in leafy greens, orange juice, wheat germ, and fortified grains. Adult women need 400 micrograms; pregnant women require 600 micrograms.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods and can help prevent heart disease, the number one killer of American women. It also aids in the development and maintenance of nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 can be found in extra lean red meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products. Adult women need 2.4 micrograms per day; pregnant women need 2.6.

If you are on medication or have a health condition, it’s a good idea to consult your physician as to any potential interactions or contraindications. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in particular should always talk with a doctor about vitamin dosages. For everyone else, if you’re not getting a variety of the foods described above, a multivitamin should meet your daily nutritional requirements.

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