A well-balanced diet can fulfill body's demand of vitamins and minerals and can assure good health. Vitamin deficiency can lead to various disorders and even to serious diseases. Men, women, children, everyone requires all types of vitamins, so actually, all vitamins are 'essential vitamins' for women. No single vitamin can be termed as the 'best vitamin for women' because all vitamins are equally essential for maintaining our health. A woman's body undergoes various changes during the onset of puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause etc. These changes make their bodies prone to certain illnesses. Moreover, as one ages, the type and quantity of vitamins required by the body changes.
Most Beneficial Vitamins for Women
Vitamin A: Vitamin A regulates body tissues and maintains healthy bones, keeping the skin, eye, bone and teeth healthy. Vitamin A is found in milk, egg yolk, carrots, leafy vegetables, oranges, lime and pineapple. Along with boosting the immune system, it protects the eyesight. The recommended intake of vitamin A for women is about 5,000 IU (international units) per day, with at least 20% of this being beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is present in dark yellow, orange and red colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B: Vitamin B is crucial in almost all activities of the body, as it supplies the required energy. The following are the types of vitamin B.
- Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1 is known as thiamine, which strengthens your immune system. With proper supply of B1, the brain and the nervous system can function more efficiently. It helps in the metabolism of food so that the body receives the required energy for all activities.
- Vitamin B2: Vitamin B2 is known as riboflavin and it helps produce energy through chemical reactions. Lack of riboflavin often makes women feel sluggish and tired.
- Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3 is known as niacin which controls high cholesterol and is also responsible for increasing woman's energy.
- Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5 is known as pantothenic acid and it strengthens the body's immune system.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is known as pyridoxine and it protects the arteries. It regulates the hormone levels, boosts the immunity, and is essential for proper neurological functions. Vitamin B6 can prevent heart disease in later life. Women should have 2 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
- Vitamin B9: Vitamin B9 is known as folic acid and it is responsible for the formation of the red blood cells which maintain the energy levels. Folic acid benefits for women are numerous and it is the best vitamin for women of childbearing years; as it prevents birth defects in earlier days of pregnancy. It prevents neural tube or spinal cord birth defects in the first 28 days of pregnancy. It prevents anemia and boosts normal cell growth. Women need 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Pregnant women need 600 mcg per day while breastfeeding mothers need 500 mcg per day.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is known as cyanocobalamin and it helps absorb foods to produce energy. B12 retains nerve function and memory and relieves depression. It may prevent heart diseases in later life. Women need 2.4 mg of Vitamin B12 per day.
- Biotin: Biotin facilitates both fat and protein metabolism and thus helps convert food into energy.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D boosts the health of the bones and teeth. Milk, egg yolk, salmon and other seafood are packed with vitamin D. In women, it prevents osteoporosis. Vitamin D is helpful in reducing the chances of colon cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E plays an important role in hair growth, tissue healing and other metabolic processes. It protects the tissues of the eyes, skin and liver. It is present in nearly all types of fruits and vegetables. It is a very important antioxidant for women. Women need 400-800 IU (international units) according to age. Vitamin E offers good reproductive health to women and promotes healthy skin, nails, and hair. It prevents cataracts, heart diseases and cancer too.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential for coagulation and/or clotting of blood. Dairy products, soybean and green leafy vegetables are packed with vitamin K. It is good for the bones and prevents heart diseases in women. Women need up to 90 mcg per day of Vitamin K.
Important Vitamins for Different Age Groups
For Women in their 20s
For women in twenties, there is still 10% more growth to deal with. Vitamin D and calcium is required to get the most out of your body later in life. Calcium (600 mg daily) builds bone mass leading to strong bones. This can prevent osteoporosis later in life. Vitamin D (1000 IU daily) enhances the absorption of calcium by the body. These are the years more susceptible to mood swings and depression, because of the changing hormones. Vitamin supplements like fish oil capsules (1 to 2 g daily) containing omega 3 fatty acids can enhance the flow of brain chemicals like serotonin which help fight your mood swings.
For Women in their 30s
Women in their 30s may suffer from iron deficiency leading to fatigue. Grape seed oil helps to avoid signs of aging. Grape seed oil supplement (100-400 mg daily) is an antioxidant protecting the elastin and collagin, healing your skin. Along with iron (27 mg daily) and grape seed oil, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K help to keep your skin smooth and supple. Zinc (15-30 mg daily), folic acid (400mcg/day), Vitamin B6 (50mg/day), B12 (50mcg/day), Vitamin C (1000mg/day) and vitamin E (15 mg daily), selenium (55-100 mcg/day) are the best vitamins for women who are looking forward to get pregnant. Folic acid prevents birth defects and is present in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Vitamin B is good for reproductive health. Vitamin C and E increase the chances of conceiving. Prenatal supplements and best multivitamins for women are easily available in market.
For Women in their 40s
Women in their 40s suffer from more stress as they try to juggle careers, families and increased number of responsibilities. They feel tired and run down. Higher level of cortisol is noticed in women in their 40s which leads to weight gain and increases the risk of cancer. The body metabolism starts to slow down after the age of 40. Anti aging vitamins for women like vitamin C (1000 mg daily) when combined with chromium (25 mg daily) can keep the blood sugar stable and can control weight. Vitamins A, B6, C and E, bioflavonoids, inositol, lycopene and zinc are the vitamins and minerals beneficial for immune system support. You should consult your physician, as he can prescribe some best vitamins to take during your 40s.
For Women in their 50s
According to the U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, age is one of the most significant risk factor for breast cancer. Aging increases the chances of having breast cancer. Taking 500 mg green tea extract having EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) daily, can lower the risk of breast cancer by 13-15%. With increased intake of Arginine (1-3 mg daily), you can beat hot flashes during menopause. Vitamin supplements for women help fight menopause and the related disorders.
For Women in their 60s
Niacin (35 mg daily) can help you control the cholesterol level. Niacin helps reduce harmful fat while increasing the good cholesterol level. If you maintain correct magnesium level (325 mg daily), then your blood pressure will also be under control. Vitamin supplements are usually recommended at this age, to maintain energy levels.
I hope this article provides you all the required information about the essential vitamins for women. It is important to know that vitamins and minerals, which form an important part of our daily diet, should be consumed in proper proportions. Excessive consumption of nutritional supplements can lead to health problems.