In order for your body to function at its very best, you need to supply it with the proper amount of nutrients. But that’s sometimes easier said than done. Your body gets its vitamins and minerals through the food that you eat, but it has to be the right types of food. And when a woman is menopausal or pregnant, her body blows through vitamins to accommodate the bodily change. For those ladies out there who need to replenish their body’s supply of nutrients, here are the 10 best vitamins and minerals for women.
If you’re diligent about drinking your milk, you may not need to take a calcium supplement. But if you aren’t getting enough of this nutrient from your regular diet, a calcium supplement is a must. Calcium, of course, builds strong teeth and bones and wards off osteoporosis. But you may not know that it also helps with blood clotting, muscle contraction and expansion, and sending messages through the nervous system. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend that women under the age of 50 take 1,000 milligrams a day while women 50 and older should take 1,200 mg a day. When choosing a supplement, stay away from the calcium capsules that are derived from dolomite, bone meal or oyster shell because they could contain lead.
Vitamin D acts much in the way that calcium does and it even helps the body absorb calcium, so together, these two supplements can greatly improve your bone health. It can also reduce inflammation and protect against diabetes and vision problems. Although most dairy foods contain vitamin D, a good percentage of the body’s supply of vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun. However, many people who live in the sunniest states still develop vitamin D deficiencies, so it’s important to take a supplement if necessary. According to the Mayo Clinic, women under the age of 70 should take 600 IU (International Unit) daily while women over the age of 70 should take 800 IU daily.
Magnesium can also help your bones, but its main job is to aid in immune system function, nerve transmission and muscle contraction. It also helps to regulate blood pressure, keep hypertension under control and it may even lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Taken with calcium, magnesium can also help to control muscle spasms and cramps. The recommended daily amount for all women is 400 mg.
One of the most important supplements for women to take is iron. During your period, you lose not only blood, but a good chunk of your body’s iron supply. Iron plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and it carries oxygen through the body. It can also prevent fatigue and boost memory and alertness. It’s recommended than women younger than 50 take 18 milligrams daily while menopausal women should only take 8 mg. Pregnant women, on the other hand, should take 27 mg. For the best absorption, look for a ferrous sulfate or ferrous fumarate supplement.
Vitamin B12 is found in meats, seafood and milk, so if you’re a vegetarian, there’s a good chance that you’re B12 deficient. Like iron, vitamin B12 prevents anemia and it also boosts memory. It’s a vitamin you don’t want to be deficient in because it maintains nerve and brain function and it can help to prevent heart disease and depression. It’s recommended that women take 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 a day. Pregnant women should take 2.6 mcg while women who are breastfeeding should take 2.8 mcg.
If you’re pregnant, vitamin B6 may lower your risk of morning sickness. Vitamin B6 also helps to produce brain chemicals and hormones, and it boosts your immune system. It may even lower your risk of developing heart disease, depression and memory loss. It’s recommended that women take 2 milligrams of B6 per day.
Vitamin E oil is great for your skin. It moisturizes and can even reduce the appearance of scars. When you take it in pill form, it boosts your immune system and fights the damage to DNA that causes your cells to age. The NIH recommends that women get 15 mg or 22.4 IU of Vitamin E, daily. Look for vitamin E that is labeled “D” or “D-alpha tocopheryl,” which is natural. Avoid vitamin E that is labeled “dl” or “dl-alpha tocopheryl” as this is synthetic.
Folate, or folic acid, is responsible for maintaining new cells, nervous system function and brain function. It also helps with mental and emotional health and prevents anemia. Women should take 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Pregnant women should take 500 mcg and breastfeeding women should take 600 mcg.
So far, this list of supplements has probably sounded very familiar. However, you may not be as familiar with coenzyme Q-10. It’s actually an antioxidant that is necessary for cell function. It boosts your energy as well as your immune system. Research suggests that it may help with heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. This antioxidant occurs naturally in the body, but as you age, the production of it decreases. Women should take 30-60 mg of coenzyme Q-10 daily.
If after a meal you find yourself reaching for the bottle of antacids, you should take probiotics instead. Probiotics are bacterial enzymes that aid in digestion and fight off bacteria. It can also prevent urinary tract infections and yeast infections. It’s recommended that women take at least one billion colony-forming units. That may sound like a ridiculous amount of pills, but each capsule contains one billion CFU.
Of course, every woman is different, so not all of these vitamins may be right for you. Even if they are, the recommended daily amount may not be right for you depending on how deficient in the vitamin you may be. Before you start taking any type of supplement, consult your doctor to find out if and how much of it you should be taking.