The Most Important Vitamins and Minerals for Women

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Just as a woman’s body changes throughout her lifetime so do her nutritional needs. If you are woman using the same vitamins as your husband, or you take the same supplements as you did in your early 20s, then chances are you need to visit your nutritionist to adjust your daily intake.  There are many variables that determine the vitamins and minerals you should be taking – such as allergies, the state of your health, pre-existing health conditions and more. It is important to regularly check in with your health care professional to readdress your daily vitamin and mineral intake and ensure dosage is suitable.

In saying this, there are a few common vitamins and minerals that are essential to women’s health. Regardless of your age, here are the top 8 vitamins and minerals a woman needs in order to stay healthy:

  1. Iron

What does Iron do?

The main function of iron is to carry oxygen throughout your body. Your body needs iron to make red blood cells, for optimal immune functioning, and for temperature regulation.

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

During a woman’s childbearing years, she needs 18mg of iron daily. After menopause, she only needs 8mg/day (Better Health Channel, 2015). The reason for the difference in dosage is that women who are menstruating lose a significant amount of iron-rich blood each month.

Poor levels of iron can also be a result of a poor diet. A diet low in iron can lead to the development of anemia – symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue and difficulty regulating body temperature. To avoid a diet low in iron ensure that you are eating healthily. Look to dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, and lean red meat to boost your iron levels.

  1. Calcium

Why is Calcium important?

Calcium is a mineral that gives strength to your bones and teeth. Calcium is also necessary for many of your body’s functions, such as blood clotting and nerve and muscle function. Calcium is especially important for women since they are at significant risk of osteoporosis, particularly after menopause.

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

Bone density loss in women starts when they are in their 20s, so it is important for all women to ensure they get 1000 to 1300 mg of calcium daily, either in their diet or by taking supplements. (Good Health Channel, 2015) Good sources of calcium include dairy foods like milk, yoghurt and cheese, and calcium-fortified products, such as soy milk and breakfast cereals.

  1. Magnesium

Why is Magnesium important?

Magnesium plays a part in more than 300 biochemical processes in your body. Every organ in the body, especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys, needs magnesium. This mineral also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Magnesium activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate levels of calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

Adult women need 310 to 320 mg of magnesium daily in order to avoid heart arrhythmias, immune system problems, bone fragility, and blood pressure irregularities (University of Maryland Medical Centre, 2015). Additionally, women who are deficient in magnesium are at risk for migraine headaches.

Vitamin A

Why is Vitamin A important?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which helps maintain normal reproduction, vision and immune function. It comes in a number of forms (as retinol, retinal, retinoic acid or retinyl ester).

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

Women need at least 2333IU of vitamin A for healthy eyes and immune functioning (Medscape, 2015). Those who do not get enough vitamin A through supplements are at risk of macular degeneration, measles, and some forms of cancer. Foods such as beef liver, sweet potatoes and spinach are rich sources of vitamin A.

Folate (vitamin B9)

Why is Folate important?

Folate (or ‘folic acid’ when added to food or taken as a supplement) is a B-group vitamin essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and supports the brain’s ability to regulate emotions.

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

During pregnancy, folate is critical to prevent neural tube defects in the unborn child. While women who are not carrying a child require 400 mcg of folic acid per day, those who are pregnant need 600 mcg to 1 mg of this B vitamin daily (WebMD, 2015).

Women who do not have enough of this nutrient in their systems are at risk of anaemia and certain types of cancers.  Dietary sources of folate include beans and dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale.

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Why is Biotin important?

Biotin, sometimes known as Vitamin H, is part of the B complex group of vitamins, and essential for converting food to fuel. Crucial to the body for its role in metabolising carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids, Biotin promotes stronger hair and nails. As with other B vitamins, it is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning the body doesn’t store it for long.

Why do I need to adjust my dosage as I age?

Women who do not get the recommended daily allowance of 30 µg of biotin are at risk of depression, as well as hair loss and brittle nails (University of Maryland Medical Centre, 2015). Biotin is particularly necessary for pregnant women. When an expecting mother has an inadequate supply of biotin in her diet, certain conditions might be manifested in both the adult and the infant, where skin discolorations can indicate a biotin deficiency, which can have some negative effects. Foods rich in Biotin include swiss chards, carrots, milk and berries.

Vitamin C

Why is Vitamin C important?

Vitamin C is especially important for women because of its role in facilitating iron absorption. It also helps to produce collagen, which provides the structure to our skin. Vitamin C assists in repairing tissues in our body as well as supporting immune health. Since our bodies are not able make vitamin C, we need to get it through our diet or by taking supplements.

Why do I need to change be dosage as I age?

Vitamin C requirements change as a woman ages. Most women need at least 75 mg of Vitamin C each day. However, pregnant women require 85 mg per day while breastfeeding women require 120 mg a day (MedLinePlus, 2015).

Sources:

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Iron_explained

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/calcium

https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/magnesium

http://reference.medscape.com/drug/retinol-aquasol-a-vitamina-344426

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-folic-acid

https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-h-biotin

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

About the Author: Nicole Schaerer

Nicole Schaerer is Ivy College’s vibrant Social and Content Executive. A young gun with a curious mind, she has over 4 years’ experience in Marketing. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a Diploma of Marketing, she is always looking to learn something new. Nicole has a passion for writing and producing great content while also obsessing over TV shows, celebrities and really cute photos of puppies on Instagram.

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