Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are different multivitamins designed for men and women? This is because men and women’s bodies need different things to stay strong and healthy. While we share many organs in common with men, we have a few of our own that need different attention that generic “one-a-day” dietary supplements don’t address. Women in particular have a few common deficiencies that occasionally cause us some health troubles. As with most nutrients, these vitamins work best if you can get them in your food (they’re more natural and are absorbed more readily), but if not, make sure your daily supplement regimen contains the daily value that your body needs.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Vitamin D and Calcium work together to keep your bones strong. Vitamin D actually acts as a hormone, helping your bones and body absorb the calcium it needs. Foods rich in Calcium and Vitamin D are fish, dairy products, soymilk (must indicate that it has both D and Calcium added) and cereal. You can also get Vitamin D from a healthy dose of sunlight. This is especially important for older women to aid in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Recommended Daily Value: Calcium: 1000 mg, Vitamin D: 5 µg (micrograms)
Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E a.k.a. the Antioxidant Vitamins
These vitamins are essential in fighting sickness, disease and the appearance of aging. They play a key role in the process of protecting your cells and doing battle against free radicals whose only mission is to bring down your health. It is great to surplus these vitamins when you are stressed or not getting enough sleep. They will kick your immune system into high gear so you run a lower chance of getting sick. Other vitamins in this category are the Carotenoids and Retinol. Easy food sources from which to get your daily dose of the Antioxidant Vitamins are carrots, grapefruit, peppers, coffee, green leafy vegetables, peanut butter and safflower oil. You shouldn’t have trouble getting in your daily doses of these vitamins unless you really dislike fruits and vegetables.
Recommended Daily Value: Vitamin A: 600 µg, Vitamin C: 75 mg, Vitamin E: 10 mg
Vitamin B6 gives a major boost to your metabolism and your brain function. Deficiency of Vitamin B6 is very rare, because it is so common in various foods. Cereal, Oatmeal, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, myriad nuts, avocadoes, bananas and meats are all good sources of Vitamin B6. Deficiency has been known to occur in older women, but because this is one of the few water soluble vitamins that it is possible to overdose on, absolutely consult a doctor before starting on any supplements for it.
Recommended Daily Value: 2 mg
Vitamin B12 is a metabolism booster. It also helps in the processes of cell division and protein synthesis. Vitamin B12 is likely to be readily present in your normal diet. It can be found in eggs, meat, fish and dairy products. Women over 50 tend to have difficulty absorbing vitamins as readily through eating alone. It is recommended, especially with Vitamin B12, that women over 50 take a supplement to ensure proper absorption is taking place.
Recommended Daily Value: 6 µg
Iron is an important player in the production of red blood cells. Iron deficiency, which is common in women, and especially vegetarian women, can cause low energy, or even anemia. Iron can be found in red meat, beans, dark green vegetables and tofu. If you suffer from low-energy and fatigue, ask your doctor to test your blood for iron, so if your body is low, you can get a supplement if you need it.
Recommended Daily Value: 18 mg
As well as aiding the development in the central nervous system, Folate is essential in the process of making DNA and RNA. Folate also helps prevent irregularities in DNA that can cause cancer and anemia. Deficiency is most prominent, and unfortunately, most dangerous in pregnant women. If you are pregnant, it is likely that the prenatal vitamins you’re on have some extra folic acid in them. If you’re worried, ask your consulting physician. Food sources rich in folate are dark greens like spinach and asparagus, eggs, and beans.
Recommended Daily Value: 400 µg
Vitamin K helps keep strong bones strong and helps maintain normal blood clotting as you age. For this reason, it is important that older women get enough Vitamin K. Foods containing Vitamin K include leafy dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and alfalfa sprouts.
Recommended Daily Value: 80 µg
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.