Did you know that women experiencing menopause may sometimes lack vitamin D, pregnant women typically need around 400–800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day, and women on their menstrual cycle can lose a lot of iron? If you answered no, don’t worry! Knowing more about the vitamins and minerals women need is an important step to take towards keeping healthy, no matter the stage of your life, and we’re here to offer a helping hand.
Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for women include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
What are the best vitamins and minerals for women?
It may be safe to presume that we’re all pretty familiar with the importance of vitamins and minerals and the positive impacts they both have on our health. However, it can still be pretty difficult to know whether or not you’re getting the right amount - particularly when genders concerned!
Although all vitamins and minerals are crucial in their own right, there are particular nutrients for women to know more about.
Iron is an essential mineral that helps to carry oxygen around the body, supports immune function, and plays an essential role in rapid growth and development.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, many women don’t actually get the right amount of iron and this can result in iron deficiency anemia . What’s more, during their periods, women can lose iron nearly every month through the blood loss, making it crucial for women to include some iron-rich foods in their daily diet.
Food sources of iron include:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Lean red meats
- Fortified cereals
The recommended daily iron intake for women is:
- 14.8mg for women aged 19 to 50
- 8.7mg for women over 50
- 27mg during pregnancy
One of the best ways to know more about your iron levels is through a lab test.
Calcium is an important mineral that plays a critical role in building and maintaining healthy bones.
During menopause and as women age, their bone density is affected, which makes calcium intake as important as ever . The good news is that there are a number of dairy products that you can pick up in your local grocery store.
Food sources of calcium include:
The recommended daily calcium intake for women is:
- 1,300 mg for girls age 9 to 18
- 1,000 mg for women over 18
- 1,200 mg for postmenopausal women
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient with a number of important functions - including helping the body convert food into fuel and supporting the normal functioning of the nervous system.
For those following a plant-based diet, it can be difficult to get enough B12 as it is typically found in many animal products. Furthermore, in pregnant women, a B12 supplement may be recommended because of the important role the nutrient plays in a baby’s development .
Food sources of B12 include:
- Fish and meat
- Nutritional yeast
The recommended daily vitamin B12 intake for adults is 2.4 mcg per day. If you are pregnant, follow a plant-based diet or are concerned about your vitamin B12 levels, it’s important to take a test and speak to your doctor or a health and wellness professional about the next steps.
Folate is a B vitamin that is crucial before and during pregnancy. During early development, it helps in forming the neural tube and during pregnancy, it helps to reduce the risk of major birth defects.
While folate is naturally found in foods, it’s well known sidekick folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin and can only be found in supplements or fortified foods.
Food sources of folate include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Leafy green vegetables
- Chickpeas and kidney beans
- Fortified breakfast cereals
The recommended daily folate intake for women is:
- 400 mcg
- 400-800 mcg for women planning to get pregnany or who are currently pregnant
Don’t forget, the recommended daily intake can differ from person to person. If you are pregnant, it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider.
Vitamin D helps in aiding the absorption of calcium and in turn, plays an integral role in keeping our bones, teeth and muscles healthy in both women and men. It’s also known to aid healthy immune system function.
Although it is possible to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through sunlight alone, during the Winter months, it can be difficult to get enough of this crucial vitamin. While some people may need to take dietary supplements, there are a small number of vitamin D food sources that you can add to your next grocery list.
Food sources of vitamin D include:
- Oily fish
- Fortified foods
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
The recommended daily vitamin D intake for women is:
- 10 mcg for adult women
- 10 mcg for pregnant and breastfeeding women
One of the best ways to know if you’re getting enough vitamin D is through a test.
See also: What Foods Are High in Vitamin D?
What kind of vitamins should a woman take daily?
As every woman is unique in their own way, their nutritional needs tend to differ. This means, although there is a number of supplements available that are marketed at women, they may not be right for you.
To know whether or not you should take a certain vitamin or mineral supplement, it’s best to learn more about your vitamin levels by taking a test and talking to your doctor about your options.
See also: Can You Strengthen Your Immune System?
What vitamins and minerals do women lack?
A vitamin deficiency can occur for a number of reasons, such as low vitamin intake or having a certain medical condition. So although some women may need more of one vitamin or mineral during different stages in their lives, there are not specific nutrients that all women lack.
In saying that, the Office of Women's Health notes that it can be common for some adult women to experience low levels of the below vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin D
The most reliable way to know more about your vitamin levels is through a test. This can be done with your local doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetChecked’s range of Wellness Tests allow you to know more about your vitamin and mineral levels - including iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to answer any questions you may have throughout the process!