Vitamins for Women: What should they take and Why?

Vitamins are the vital nutrients required by the body in trace amounts. These cannot be synthesized by the body itself therefore a proper and regular dietary intake is essential to meet the necessary requirements. These are primarily of two types which are fat soluble vitamins and the other are water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins are vitamin A, D, E and K, whereas water soluble vitamins are vitamin B-complex and vitamin C.

Whether men or women both require vitamins for proper functioning and severe deficit levels of vitamins can cause a range on disorders. In case of women, the need of vitamins is even more crucial due to their complex body structure and the depleting amount of nutrients due to advancing age. Moreover, during pregnancy also a woman loses a lot of vitamin from their body to nurture the child with the required nutrition. To add on to the reasons is the weight watch which unintentionally prevents the body from gaining required nutrients due to diet checks imposed.

Why are Vitamins required for a Woman?

Vitamins are crucial in their importance as they contribute to all the processes conducted within the body. Any situation leading to vitamin deficiencies results in serious health conditions. Daily dosage of multivitamin supplements helps in prevention of cancer and heart ailments. For pregnant women, folic acid supplements help in preventing birth defects in new born. For women with advanced age, vitamin D along with calcium helps in maintaining bone health and prevents osteoporosis. Lastly, women who tend to go on crash diets, additional multivitamin supplements ensure meeting of the daily nutrition requirements.

Are the Vitamin Requirements Different for Different Age Groups of Women?

The age factor plays an extremely important role with respect to the vitamin requirements of the body. Different age groups of women require different vitamins in varied quantities.

  • 20 to 40 years:Early Age requires strong build and bone mass, hence a strong bone health is necessary to prevent easy fractures and osteoporosis. Other essential body functions like red blood cell production and development and maintaining of metabolic activities is required.
  • 40 to 50 years: This age group requires damage degrading supplements like antioxidants. The basic vitamin requirements stay the same but onset of aging-related and chronic diseases begins. Therefore, antioxidants help in protection of health by reducing the amount of free radicals within the body thus maintaining the tissues and cells in their optimum health state.
  • 50 years and above: The biggest challenge for this age is the loss of bone density due to menopause. To add on, the ability of the body to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight also diminishes hence high vitamin D intake is required. Also deterioration of RBC, neurons and DNA takes place, and to slow this deterioration vitamin B12 is required.

What Vitamins should a Woman take?

The Vitamins essential for the nutritional requirement for women and their natural resources are as follows:

Vitamins Benefits Natural Sources
Vitamin A It is an antioxidant known to improve vision, decelerates the skin aging process and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Animal meat and liver, Fish, Colorful vegetables like carrots, green leafy vegetables, Fruits like pumpkin, watermelon, cantaloupe, Cereals and dairy products.
Vitamin B Complex It is a group of eight vitamins that contribute to maintenance of functions of brain and muscles. Amongst all, folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are of prime importance. Folic acid helps preventing birth defects during pregnancy, vitamin B6 helps in RBC production whereas vitamin B12 aid in nerve cell and RBC development. Cereals, Whole grains, Beans, Asparagus, Eggs, Chicken breast
Vitamin C It has a wide range of benefits like prevention of cold, aiding in digestion, improving the immunity, prevent pre-natal complications, reduces heart disorders and eye problem and also help in maintaining weight. All kinds of citrus fruits and other fruits like papaya, strawberry, pineapple, guava, grape, and kiwi. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, animal liver, and milk.
Vitamin D It is the only vitamin which is synthesized by the body on exposure to sunlight. It is known to maintain bone health along with absorption of many minerals. It also helps in prevention of diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer Fish, dairy products and sunlight
Vitamin E It helps in preventing skin aging, production of red blood cells and development of muscles and brain Green leafy vegetables, other fruits and vegetables like kiwi, avocado, potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, dairy products, nuts like almond and hazelnut, oils like sunflower oil, wheat germ oil and almond oil
Vitamin K It helps in maintaining strong bone density and prevents bleeding by aiding in the process of coagulation. Vegetables like spinach, mustard, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus and parsley, fruits like avocados, grapes and kiwi, chicken leg and liver, salmon, and dairy products.

Recommended Dietary Allowances of Vitamin for Women of Different Age Group

NUTRIENT Female Female Pregnancy Pregnancy Lactation Lactation
19-50 Yrs >50 Yrs 14-18 Yrs 19-50 Yrs 14-18 Yrs 19-50 Yrs
RDA Vitamins (Per Day)
Vitamin A – retinol 700 µg 700 µg 750 µg 770 µg 1200 µg 1300 µg
Vitamin C – ascorbic acid 75 mg 75 mg 80 mg 85 mg 115 mg 120 mg
Vitamin D 5* µg 10* µg 5* µg 5* µg 5* µg 5* µg
Vitamin E 15 mg 15 mg 15 mg 15 mg 19 mg 19 mg
Vitamin K 90* µg 90* µg 75* µg 90* µg 75* µg 90* µg
Vitamin B1 – thiamin 1.1 mg 1.1 mg 1.4 mg 1.4 mg 1.4 mg 1.4 mg
Vitamin B2 – riboflavin 1.1 mg 1.1 mg 1.4 mg 1.4 mg 1.6 mg 1.6 mg
Vitamin B3 – niacin 14 mg 14 mg 18 mg 18 mg 17 mg 17 mg
Vitamin B5 – pantothenic acid 5* mg 5* mg 6* mg 6* mg 7* mg 7* mg
Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine 1.3 mg 1.5 mg 1.9 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg 2.0 mg
vitamin B12 2.4 µg 2.4 µg 2.6 µg 2.6 µg 2.8 µg 2.8 µg
Biotin 30* µg 30* µg 30* µg 30* µg 35* µg 35* µg
Choline 425* mg 425* mg 450* mg 450* mg 550* mg 550* mg
Folate/ Folic acid 400 µg 400 µg 600 µg 600 µg 500 µg 500 µg

(*) = Adequate Intake

Why should one not take Vitamins more than the Upper Limit of RDA?

Vitamins, though, are very essential for the body but their consumption should be within the advised dosage range. Similar to deficiency of vitamins, excess of vitamins could also lead to health problems. Such a condition is known as Hypervitaminosis. Some of the types are as follows:

  • Hypervitaminosis A: It has toxic effects on the body like fatigue, suppressed appetite, nausea, dizziness, headache, dry skin and liver damage. In pregnant women, it leads to birth defects in the new born.
  • Hypervitaminosis E: It causes bleeding problems due to increase in the anti-coagulation activity.
  • Hypervitaminosis D: It leads to excessive levels of calcium in the blood leading to over calcification of bones, kidneys and heart.
  • Hypervitaminosis B: Vitamin B-6 and niacin toxicity leads into skin flushing, nausea, vomiting, nerve damage, burning pain, numbness, sensitivity to sunlight and liver damage. Folate toxicity leads to masking of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Hypervitaminosis C: Excess of Vitamin C can cause kidney stones.

Conclusion

Vitamins are super essential nutrients for the body which are absorbed by the body in minute quantities. These are a necessity because they maintain the bodily functions. Women require special attention on their vitamin intake because of their body structure and also because of dieting which is extremely common now a days. The intake can be enhanced by consuming daily multivitamin supplements as well natural foods that are rich in vitamins. An important thing to keep in mind is to adhere to the dosage of the vitamin required by the body because serious health issues can come up whether the body has excess of vitamins or is deficient in same.

Note: This information is only for reference and is not a substitute of a medical care in any form. Kindly consult with a Healthcare Professional for detailed diagnosis, treatment and follow up.

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