Vitamins and minerals are responsible for hundreds of different functions and processes that go on within our bodies each and every day. They are essential for optimal functioning, performance, and overall health. While they are important for everyone, look below to learn more about the top 11 vitamins and minerals recommended for women.
Image credit: Health.mil
1. Vitamin D
When you hear Vitamin D, you’re probably thinking of the sun, right? Good thinking - we do get the bulk of our Vitamin D intake from sun exposure! Vitamin D promotes bone health by aiding in the absorption of calcium in the body. Additionally, it’s important for proper heart, nerve, and muscle function.
The daily recommendation for women up to 70 years old is 600 international units or 15 micrograms per day and 800 international units for those 70+ years old. Sunlight, eggs, and sardines are a couple of examples of vitamin D sources.
Calcium is essential for strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis. For women, in particular, the risk of osteoporosis increases with age. This mineral also aids in muscular contractions and functioning of the heart and nerves. Sounds important right?
Calcium supplements are there to make up for what is missing if you aren’t meeting your daily needs through your diet. 1,000 milligrams per day is the recommendation for women under 50 years old, and 1,200 milligrams per day for women over 50. 1,500 milligrams per day is the recommendation for pregnant women. Dairy products are a great source of calcium, but for those who can’t/don’t eat dairy products, broccoli and almonds are a great calcium source.
Iron is necessary for healthy functioning of the body. For women in particular, iron is extremely important because their bodies perform functions such as menstruation and pregnancy that require the ingestion of increased amounts as more iron is lost during those times. Vegetarians in particular and women with heavier menstrual cycles should consider iron supplementation.
Daily intake requirements are 8 milligrams per day for postmenopausal women and 18 milligrams for those who are not. Lean red meat and dark green vegetables are commonly thought of us as some of the best food sources of this important mineral.
If you have any issues with blood pressure, keep reading. Magnesium is important for the regulation of blood pressure. Women over 40 are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, simply due to aging. Magnesium is also important for blood glucose regulation, muscle/nerve function, and protein synthesis. This mineral plays a role in many things that happen within the body.
The recommended amount of magnesium per day for women over 18 is 320 milligrams. Nuts, seeds, and dark, leafy greens are good food sources of magnesium.
5. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is important for functions like hormone balance, metabolic function, DNA synthesis, and the regulation of adrenal fatigue. Processes that are extremely important, trust me. It is vital for women of all ages. Vitamin B12 is considered a micronutrient as it is needed in small amounts.
It is not produced by the body and therefore must be consumed in one’s diet. The recommendation for daily consumption is 2.4 micrograms. It can only be found in fortified plant sources and animal proteins. Vegetarians, in particular, are typically low in B12.
6. Folic Acid
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is a B vitamin (B9) that is necessary for all women. This vitamin is particularly important for women who have the ability to get pregnant and especially for those who hope to do so or are pregnant. Folic acid is responsible for helping the body to generate new, healthy cells and aids in the functioning of the nervous system.
Fruits, dried nuts, and leafy green vegetables are dietary sources of folic acid. 400 micrograms or 0.4 mg is the daily recommendation for women of childbearing age; 0.6-0.8 mg is the recommendation for pregnant women.
7. The Antioxidants – Vitamins A, C, and E
Antioxidants work together to protect the body from free radicals and the toxins and damage that come along with the presence of free radicals. Vitamins A, C, and E are the most potent antioxidants. Free radicals are harmful compounds that are released in response to stress, inflammation, and infection within the body. Antioxidants ultimately cleanse, prevent, and protect.
Vitamin A plays significant roles in healthy vision, skeletal tissue, and skin. Common dietary sources of vitamin A are carrots, milk, and sweet potatoes. 700 micrograms per day is the average recommendation for women over 14 years of age.
8. The Antioxidants – Vitamins A, C, and E
When you hear “Vitamin C,” you may be thinking of colds and orange juice, but Vitamin C is important for so much more than that. It helps to repair and regenerate tissue, reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent heart disease, and aid in iron absorption. 75 milligrams per day is the recommended daily allowance for women and 85 milligrams per day for pregnant women. Melons, citrus fruits, and red bell peppers are great sources of this vitamin.
9. The Antioxidants – Vitamins A, C, and E
Vitamin E, the last of the most potent antioxidants, boosts the immune system, fights off free radicals, and has a role in gene regulation. For women 14 and over, 15 milligrams per day is the amount of Vitamin E suggested for adequate intake. Nuts and seeds are a dietary source of this vitamin.
10. Vitamin K
Vitamin K helps to stop excessive bleeding by helping the blood to clot. It also helps to prevent weakening of the bones and has some topical benefits like aiding in the healing of bruises, cuts, and some skin conditions.
Brussels sprouts and broccoli are excellent sources of Vitamin K. 90 micrograms per day is the suggested amount for women who are over the age of 18.
Want longer hair and smooth, blemish-free skin? Biotin, also known as Vitamin B7, plays a role in the formation of energy for the body via blood sugar and fatty acids. It also aids in some metabolic processes and helps to fight off deficiencies related to one’s skin, nails, and hair.
30 micrograms is the adequate amount that should be consumed each day by individuals 19 and older. Dietary sources of biotin include cauliflower, avocado, and eggs.