While it is always best to receive essential nutrients through food, that is not always possible in today’s busy world. Women’s health needs are not the same as men’s, though, which is why females should include certain vitamins and minerals in their diets. The vitamins a woman should prioritize also depend on her age.
For Every Woman
Regardless of age, every woman should consume sufficient amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, and various forms of B vitamins every day. These vitamins can be found in various foods, including the following:
- Vitamin A – liver, salmon, tuna, cheese, eggs, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, and spinach
- Vitamin B – whole grains, nuts and seeds, milk, cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, and red meat
- Vitamin C – oranges, green and red peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and broccoli
- Vitamin E – almonds, butternut squash, sunflower seeds, and sweet potatoes
Vitamin K is available from many of the same sources as vitamin A.
The Reproductive Years
For women trying to conceive, it is essential to have plenty of zinc, folic acid, and co-enzyme Q-10 in their diets, the last of which may aid in boosting fertility. Common sources of zinc include oysters, legumes, meat, seeds, and nuts, while good sources of folic acid include citrus fruits, leafy greens, beans, rice, and pastas. Co-enzyme Q-10 sources include organ meats, legumes, fatty fish, strawberries, oranges, and spinach.
While not every woman needs an iron supplement, it is recommended for those experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding or for those who are pregnant. Iron is available from both animal and plant sources, including fish, eggs, meat, dairy, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Women in menopause have different needs than women in their reproductive years. Because menopausal women lose the protective effects of estrogen, they are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis and heart disease. That is why is it critical that older women receive adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
Foods high in calcium include yogurt, cheese, sardines, beans, almonds, and many types of leafy greens. Foods high in vitamin D include cheese, fortified cereals, beef, liver, and fatty fish. If using supplements, the recommended daily amount of calcium for older women is 1,200mg daily and 600 I.U. of vitamin D.
Fish consumption is a good way to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the best types of fish to eat for good health include salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Taking fish oil supplements daily is also an option.
Vitamin B-12 helps the body create red blood cells, and a deficiency can lead to symptoms of dementia. The body also has a harder time absorbing vitamin B-12 as it ages. Animal products like eggs, fish, meat, and dairy items are the best source of vitamin B-12. Multi-vitamins almost always contain adequate amounts of vitamin B-12, or a woman can take it separately or ask her doctor about vitamin B-12 injections.