If one were to equate a healthy body to a piece of cloth, then vitamins and minerals are the strands that hold the fabric together. Vitamins and minerals, also known as micronutrients, play an instrumental role in the proper functioning of the body. However, these micronutrient requirements are likely to differ from person to person. Women require certain vitamins and minerals more than men do. So what are the best vitamins and minerals for women, you ask? Let’s find out.
Best Vitamins and Minerals For Women
The most common determinants of a person’s nutritional requirements are age, gender, and one’s overall health profile. Women require certain specific kinds of vitamins and minerals and these requirements could change over the course of their lives. Let us look at some of them in great detail below.
Vitamin B 12
Vitamin B12 is a very important micronutrient for women. It helps with a healthy pregnancy as it contributes to the brain and neural development of the foetus. Apart from it, it helps in the formation of red blood cells in the body. To know more about this important vitamin and how it benefits the health, read our article, ‘Vitamin B12: Here’s Why Your Body Needs It’. Vitamin B12 is found mostly in fat-free or low-fat milk, eggs, liver, clams, sardines, poultry, herring, flounder, blue cheese, nutritional yeast, and fortified cereals. Given that most of the sources of this particular vitamin comes from animal sources, vegetarians can opt for supplements to meet their B12 requirements.
Women after 30 need to put in extra efforts to take care of their bones. After all the older you get, the tougher it gets to maintain bone health. Having adequate vitamin D levels along with calcium in the body is necessary as it can really impact bone health. A lack of sufficient amounts of this essential vitamin can cause a lot of problems right from weak bones and muscles, a higher risk of heart ailments, diabetes, and high blood pressure issues. Vitamin D deficiency can result in gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and other abnormalities among pregnant women. A 30-40 minute walk out in the sun is the most natural way to get sufficient vitamin D. However, not everyone is able to do so, and so fishes like tuna and salmon, and fortified foods (some brands of orange juice, cereals, low-fat or fat-free milk, soy beverages, and yogurt) are other sources of this vitamin.
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
Folic acid is one of the most important women’s vitamins. Women who are planning to start a family or who are already pregnant, require nearly 400-800 mcg of folic acid daily either from supplements or through other foods. Folate is one of the most crucial vitamins for women as it helps the body make blood cells and create DNA for new cells. Additionally, it helps prevent any kind of birth defect such as neural tube defect, which is likely to occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. Furthermore, it helps babies maintain a healthy weight and also lessen the chances and the risk involved with premature birth. You can get your daily dose of folate from green leafy vegetables, citric fruits and juices, beans, legumes, whole grains, and cereals.
Everyone knows that calcium is one of the most important minerals for a woman. Given that the bone density falls with age (as bone breakdown supersedes bone formation), maintaining an adequate level of calcium in the bloodstream becomes more important than ever. This way the body won’t draw out the calcium from the bones, helping in the maintenance of bone health in the long run. However, you need to be wary of how much calcium you consume as too much of it can lead to kidney stones and an increased risk of heart problems. The World Health Organization recommends a daily dose of 500 mg, however post menopausal women could require up to 1200 mg as well.
Iron deficiency anemia is a problem that’s very common among women. Ideally, women between the age of 19 and 50 must consume 14.8mg a day, while women above the age of 50 must have 8.7mg a day. If you are someone who loses a lot of blood during your monthly period, you are likely to be at a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia. If that is the case, then it's best to add foods to your diet that are rich in iron. Foods rich in iron include green leafy vegetables like spinach, fortified foods like cereal, red meat, red kidney beans, edamame beans, chickpeas, and nuts. If you are not getting enough iron from the food you eat, it is necessary you have it in the form of supplements to get the requisite dose.
Wellbeing Nutrition’s Daily Greens (a multivitamin from 39 farm-fresh greens, veggies, fruits, and antioxidant-rich superfoods) is a one-stop solution for all your nutrition requirements! Just drop a tablet into your glass, watch it fizz, and sip on the delicious drink to get your daily dose of nutrients!
Apart from the aforementioned vitamins and minerals for women, magnesium, vitamin C, iodine and omega 3 fatty acids are other important micronutrients. They aid in strengthening immunity levels, maintaining healthy levels of blood sugar and blood pressure, apart from aiding in the healthy development of the baby in the case of pregnant women. Having said that, it would be advisable to consult your healthcare provider to determine if starting any vitamin or mineral supplement is safe or not, especially if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have allergies to any medications or are taking any other medications.
- Sajin Bae, Allyson A West, Jian Yan, Xinyin Jiang, Cydne A Perry, Olga Malysheva, Sally P Stabler, Robert H Allen, Marie A Caudill, Vitamin B-12 Status Differs among Pregnant, Lactating, and Control Women with Equivalent Nutrient Intakes, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 145, Issue 7, July 2015, Pages 1507–1514, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.115.210757
- Bohon TM, Goolsby MA. The Role of Vitamin D Supplements in Women's Health. Clin Med Insights Womens Health. 2013;6:67-70. Published 2013 Oct 20. doi:10.4137/CMWH.S11067. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941188/)
- Folic Acid for the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: Preventive Medication. (https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/folic-acid-for-the-prevention-of-neural-tube-defects-preventive-medication)
- How much calcium do you really need? Harvard Health Publishing (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-calcium-do-you-really-need)
- Iron, National Health Service (UK) (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/iron/)