When it comes to the world of vitamins and supplements, there is a wide variety of different products to choose from, and the sheer number of commercially available supplements can be overwhelming.
It can be easy to fall victim to marketing strategies that convince you you are in need of more supplements than you think, but in reality you need to hone in on the specific vitamins and minerals that play key roles in your body and that may be especially important for women’s health.
Although men generally need a higher caloric intake than women, men have different nutritional needs than women do, and the recommended daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals is higher for women during menstruation.
While making sure to eat a variety of healthful, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein sources, and whole grains may provide some women with all of the nutrients needed, there are certain risk factors that may make certain women more prone to deficiencies.
These risk factors include:
- Dietary restrictions or food allergies, like being gluten-free
- Following a plant-based diet, like a vegetarian or vegan diet
- Being pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- Being 50 years of age or older
- Having a heavy period, which can lead to iron deficiency
The best way to know whether or not it may be a good idea to start taking certain vitamins is to consult your doctor, and you should always speak with your doctor before trying out a new vitamin regimen.
Your doctor is familiar with your medical and health history and can thus help you make informed decisions about your health.
All of this being said, this is your rundown of 8 of the best vitamins for women that you may want to start supplementing if your diet alone is not meeting your needs.
Magnesium carries out a few different functions in your body, including the regulation of your muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood sugar levels, and creation of protein, bone, and DNA.
Magnesium can be found in a variety of food, such as:
- Dark, leafy greens
- Legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Milk, yogurt, and some other dairy products
- Fortified foods
That said, if your diet does not consist of plenty of these foods, it could lead to your body having less magnesium than is optimal, and if the pattern continues, you may end up with a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is especially important for women’s health because this mineral is a crucial part of maintaining strong and healthy bones.
Higher intakes of magnesium are associated with higher bone mineral density, and this can help reduce your risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, which women are at a higher risk for as compared to men.
This risk of osteoporosis increases with a woman’s age, and taking magnesium supplements may help older women improve their bone mineral density and ward off osteoporosis.
Magnesium is also an important part of keeping your heart healthy, and having more magnesium in your diet may be linked to decreased heart risks.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s Heart Healthy Multivitamin For Women includes a variety of vitamins and minerals that can help promote a strong, healthy heart.
2. Vitamin D
Because vitamin D is not found in many foods naturally, more people may be vitamin D deficient than you realize. Your body can also make vitamin D naturally when you are in the sun, which means that people living in cloudy climates may need supplementation.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient because it helps build and maintain healthy bones as well as offers soothing agents and antioxidants that work to support your immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.
Calcium helps you maintain strong and healthy bones, and it also works to support proper functioning of your heart, muscles, and nerves. Not getting enough calcium can lead to low bone mass.
Calcium is found in foods such as:
- Cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products
- Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli
- Some fish, including sardines and salmon
- Fortified foods like soy products, cereals, fruit juices, and milk substitutes
If you do not incorporate enough of the aforementioned foods into your diet, you may not be getting enough calcium.
Risk factors for calcium deficiency include:
- Following a vegan diet
- Lactose intolerance or limited consumption of dairy products
- Consuming large amounts of sodium or protein, which may be causing your body to excrete more calcium
- Receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids
- Having certain bowel or digestive diseases that can decrease your body’s ability to absorb calcium
Dr. Julian Whitaker’s Joint & Bone Essentials supplement contains both calcium and vitamin D, since vitamin D allows your body to better absorb the calcium you ingest. This product can work to help support healthy joints, bone structure, bone strength, and physical mobility and function, and it may also help with age-related wear and tear.
The iron in your body works to help build red blood cells, and helps your blood cells carry oxygen in order to provide energy.
Iron can be found in the following foods:
- Red meat
- Dark leafy greens
- Fortified foods, like cereals
If you do not get enough iron, you could end up with an iron deficiency which then causes iron deficiency anemia.
When you are not getting enough iron, your body can no longer make enough healthy red blood cells, which means your organs also cannot get the oxygen they need to function properly.
Women are especially at risk of developing iron deficiency anemia due to menstruation, and women with heavy periods specifically should take care to ensure they are getting enough iron.
5. B Complex Vitamins
There are 8 B vitamins, and these are:
- Thiamin (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Biotin (B7)
- Folate/folic acid (B9)
- Cyanocobalamin (B12)
The B vitamins are essential because they help your body use energy-yielding nutrients, like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, for fuel, meaning they can help support your energy levels. Your body cannot naturally produce these vitamins on its own, and because B vitamins are water soluble, they are also not stored in your body for very long. Thus, it is important to have a continuous source of B vitamins either in your diet or as a supplement.
B vitamins can be found in foods like:
- Cheese, milk, and other dairy products
- Whole grains
- Leafy green vegetables
Different B vitamins have different food sources, so you should try to eat a wide variety of foods in order to make sure you are getting enough of these.
Women following a vegetarian or vegan diet are particularly at risk of a B12 deficiency, because B12 can only be found in animal foods or fortified foods. Vitamin B12, as well as other B vitamins, is essential for supporting your cognitive function and energy.
The Dr. Julian Whitaker Mind & Memory Essentials supplement can help support cognitive performance, memory, focus, and attention by incorporating vitamins B6, B9, and B12.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is sometimes also referred to as ascorbic acid, and it is a water soluble vitamin that works to support your immune health, metabolism, and collagen production. Vitamin C may also help lower your risk of developing certain diseases thanks to its antioxidant properties, and helps your body absorb iron.
Because iron is already a crucial vitamin for women, vitamin C, too, plays a key role in keeping you happy and healthy. Making sure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin C will help ensure that your body is absorbing enough iron as well.
The following foods are great sources of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Tomato juice
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Fortified foods like breakfast cereals
There are also certain risk factors that may increase your likelihood of getting insufficient vitamin C, such as:
- Limited food variety, like through dietary restrictions, food allergies, or diet choices
- Certain chronic diseases
If you are not getting enough of this vitamin from food alone, supplementing with it can help ensure that you are properly supporting your body.
Zinc fulfills a few different roles in your body, including supporting your immune system, making proteins and DNA, helping wounds heal, and contributing to your ability to taste and smell.
Zinc is important when it comes to women’s health because during pregnancy a woman’s body needs ample zinc in order to help your infant develop and grow properly. Thus, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant may need to take a zinc supplement if they are not getting sufficient zinc from food alone.
Zinc can be found in a variety of foods, including:
- Oysters, which are actually considered the best food source of zinc
- Red meat
- Seafood such as crab and lobster
- Fortified breakfast cereals and other fortified foods
- Whole grains
- Certain dairy products, which provide some zinc but are not considered top food sources of this mineral
Certain groups of people may be more likely to have trouble getting sufficient amounts of zinc from their diet alone, such as:
- People following a vegetarian or vegan diet, since meat is a good source of zinc
- People with certain digestive disorders
- Those struggling with alcohol abuse
- People with sickle cell disease
Zinc can help support your immune function as well as supporting eye health as you age.
Essentially, probiotics are good bacteria that reside in your gut, and they can help keep pathogens at bay, improve and regulate your digestion and absorption of nutrients, and can even contribute to improved functioning of your immune system.
When it comes to women’s health, probiotics can be largely beneficial.
Probiotics can have great benefits for your intestines and digestive system, and your vagina, too, is a finely balanced ecosystem in a similar way. This system can also be thrown off balance due to things like antibiotics, spermicide, or birth control pills, and this is where probiotics can really come in handy.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods or yogurt, but taking a probiotic supplement may be a great idea if you do not often find yourself reaching for yogurts or fermented food options.
The Dr. David Williams Probiotic Advantage supplement includes a variety of probiotics to help support your digestive system and overall health. This product also includes prebiotics in addition to probiotics, which means that the probiotics are fed and nourished.
Incorporating more probiotics into your everyday diet may have amazing effects on your overall health and wellbeing.
The Bottom Line
With such a wide variety of different vitamins and supplements commercially available today, it can be tough to narrow down the selection and hone in on the essential nutrients you really need.
While men are generally recommended to consume more calories each day than women, women need more of certain nutrients than men do, and the exact recommended daily intake depends largely on body size and other contributing factors.
Iron is one especially important vitamin for women because iron gets depleted during menstruation, and women with particularly heavy periods may be at an increased risk of ending up with an iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.
Even more, because women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis with age, vitamins that support healthy and strong bones, such as vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, are absolutely essentially and can help improve bone density and slow down the progression of conditions such as osteoporosis.
Zinc, vitamin C, and B vitamins are all examples of other important nutrients for women to focus on, and incorporating supplements of these may be beneficial.