Vitamins play an important role in all of our health, regardless of gender. Part of practicing optimal health maintenance includes understanding which particular vitamins your body needs most, and how they benefit your overall well being.
Some vitamins especially benefit women, whose nutrient needs change throughout their lifespan. For example, pregnant and breastfeeding women may temporarily require more of certain vitamins, while women in menopause or postmenopause may benefit from other boosts.
The key thing to keep in mind about vitamins is that they are organic substances we need, but are mainly produced by other plants or animals. Medical experts at WebMD emphasize that “the best thing to do is to keep up a balanced diet. But supplements can be a good way to fill in the gaps when they happen.” Make sure to talk with your doctor about which vitamin supplements they recommend if it’s difficult for you to acquire enough essential vitamins through food.
Here’s a closer look at three key vitamins that may be important for you.
Three Recommended Vitamins for Women
Folate/Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)
Sometimes referred to as vitamin B9, folate/folic acid is the nutrient in charge of healthy cell growth. It also supports formation of red blood cells, so medical experts believe it may be the key to preventing birth defects of the brain and spine. To safeguard against these potential neural tube defects (NTD), women are encouraged to begin taking folic acid supplements for at least three months before conception. The CDC further recommends that anyone who could become pregnant take at least 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of folate every day.
But folic acid is important for all women, regardless of their age, pregnancy status, or desire to conceive. Studies have shown that maintaining healthy levels of folic acid may play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and several types of cancer.
Like folic acid, vitamin B12 may prevent neural tube birth defects, but is important for so much more. The biggest and most structurally complex of all the vitamins, B12 helps your body maintain nerve tissue health, produce red blood cells, and improve brain function. It may also prevent osteoporosis and macular degeneration.
Vegans may find it challenging to get enough vitamin B12 in their diets, as the highest levels are commonly found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and milk. Talk to your doctor about which supplements may help you maintain a vegan lifestyle while getting enough of this essential vitamin.
Calcium is the mineral responsible for creating healthy bones, but your body can only absorb this important nutrient if vitamin D is present. Essentially the body’s building block for maintaining bone health, vitamin D also supports the immune system, and improves muscle function.
These benefits are particularly important to women’s health when it comes to osteoporosis prevention. But vitamin D supplements can be very beneficial for other postmenopausal care, as studies have linked it to the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, weight gain, and depression that can become more common as you age.
Sometimes referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is mainly produced when exposure to the sun transforms a chemical in your skin. Based on where you live, your sunscreen usage, melatonin levels, and time of year, it can be tricky to navigate the proper amount of sun exposure to help your body make vitamin D. Talk to your doctor or health specialist for personalized advice.
Other Vitamins Essential for Women’s Health
The experts at Medical News Today have compiled a handy reference for recommended vitamin intake for women at every age, combining data from the Food and Nutrition Board and the Office for Dietary Supplements. But you and your doctor should work closely together to monitor your personal vitamin levels, individual health requirements, and dietary or supplemental recommendations.
Our experienced experts at Avant Gynecology are also happy to discuss your nutritional needs in detail if you have any further questions. Schedule your appointment today by visiting our website or giving us a call at (404) 352-2850.