As a woman, you do have unique nutritional requirements at every stage of your life. You need to consume foods packed with vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal health, especially during pregnancy and menopause. The hormonal fluctuations that commonly occur in these stages can increase your risk of health problems, such as depression, mood disorders, and osteoporosis (bone loss).
Here is a list of the 14 best vitamins you need to make sure you’re getting enough of and their dietary sources.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that protects your eye health and bone health. Clinical studies link higher levels of vitamin A to a lower risk of bone fractures. You need to take 700 mcg (microgram) of vitamin A every day.
There isn’t a lot of evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin A supplements, so the best way to get it is by eating lots of dairy products, liver, yellow vegetables, and other foods rich in beta carotene.
Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, is beneficial to women of all age groups. This vitamin is especially essential to pregnant women, as this helps promote healthy cell growth and function and prevents birth defects. Moreover, research shows that when used in conjunction with vitamin B12, folate can help reduce depression symptoms.
The CDC suggests a daily intake of 400 mcg of folate. However, if you are pregnant or contemplating it, you should increase your daily dosage to 800 mcg.
Citrus fruits, strawberries, nuts, green leafy vegetables, cereals, and other fortified foods are good folate sources.
Your body needs thiamin or vitamin B1 to convert digested nutrients into usable energy. Without this vitamin, your cells will have difficulty functioning. Ideally, you should take 1.1 mg (milligram) of thiamin every day. You can obtain thiamin from lean meat, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is useful for fat and drug metabolism, cell growth and development, and energy production. Your body needs about 1.1 mg of this vitamin daily to preserve your bodily functions and lower your risk of developing reproductive health problems.
Pregnant and lactating women need more of this vitamin to prevent preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure) and should take 1.4 mg and 1.6 mg, respectively. Foods rich in vitamin B2 include organ and lean meats, milk, and green vegetables.
Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, also helps in energy production and prevents birth defects. You should take 14 mg of niacin daily, or 18 mg if you’re pregnant. Eating meats, grains, and legumes, and drinking milk can help you get enough vitamin B3.
6. Pantothenic Acid
You need pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) to digest fat, carbohydrates, and protein properly. Fortunately, you can obtain this vitamin from almost all types of animal and plant-based foods. You need 5 mg of vitamin B5, and if you are pregnant, you need 6 to 7 mg of this vitamin.
7. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is essential for promoting optimal brain and nerve functions as well as for keeping your immune system healthy.
The ideal intake for this vitamin is 1.3 mg for adult women and 1.9 to 2.0 mg for pregnant and lactating women. You can take dietary supplements for Vitamin B6 or obtain it by eating bananas, chickpeas, fish, chicken, and potatoes.
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy brain functioning and help prevent heart diseases and stroke.
At least 12 ounces of fish products is enough to provide you with 1.1 g (gram) of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like fish, you can also get this vitamin from soy products, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
9. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps repair tissues and neutralizes free radicals, which are notorious for causing cell damage, and consequently, illness and premature skin aging.
You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits and juices like oranges, kiwi fruits, and grapefruits. You need 75 mg of vitamin C daily. If you are lactating, you need at least 120 mg of vitamin C.
Also known as vitamin B7, biotin promotes the health of your skin, hair, and nails.
Adult women need 30 mcg of biotin, while pregnant women need 35 mcg of this vitamin per day. Meat, fish, seeds, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of biotin.
11. Vitamin E
Vitamin E also keeps your cells protected from destructive free radicals, helping prevent chronic diseases such as heart diseases and cancer.
Breastfeeding women need 19 mg of this vitamin. Margarine, vegetable oils, nuts, and leafy greens are great food sources of vitamin E.
12. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals.
Your body can produce vitamin D through healthy sun exposure. You can also get it from food sources: cheese, red meat, mushrooms, and fatty fish. Women need 15 mcg of vitamin D every day.
Choline is another nutrient beneficial for metabolism and cell growth. Recommended daily intake for choline is 425 to 550 mg.
Dietary sources of choline are dairy products, eggs, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower and cabbage family), whole grains, beans, and seeds. Most American diets don’t have enough choline, so you should consult your doctor or nutritionist about taking dietary supplements to meet the daily requirement.
14. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in the blood-clotting process, which prevents excessive bleeding. Excellent sources of vitamin K are leafy greens, meats, and dairy products.
Women’s Healthcare In New Jersey
If you think your diet does not contain enough of these vitamins, consult your doctor if you want to consider taking supplements. It helps to know their side effects and effectiveness, especially if you’re taking prescription medications.
Here at Hudson MD Group, we offer both primary care and specialty care services. Our board-certified, highly qualified primary care physicians have extensive experience in providing exceptional healthcare to women in Northern New Jersey. We can recommend meal plans that contain dietary sources that provide the essential vitamins mentioned above and help you find the right supplement for you.
To schedule an appointment with any of our primary care physicians at Hudson MD Group, call us at (973) 705-4914 or use this convenient request form.