Women need a complex balance of vitamins in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. We need to support a healthy reproductive system, healthy pregnancies, and we sometimes need a special balance of vitamins to help our bodies adjust to menopause. That's why we need to pay special attention to the vitamins we're getting in our diets.
There are good quality multi-vitamins available, and some designed especially for women, but doctors and nutritionists always recommend that the best place to get vitamins is directly from your food. We've listed the most essential ten vitamins for women below, and the best foods to get them from.
1) Vitamin C. Vitamin C heals wounds and helps our bodies make red blood cells. It also boosts levels of the brain chemical called noradrenaline, which makes you feel more alert and amps up your concentration - good news for all the busy women out there! If you are don't know if you are missing Vitamin C or not, check out these 10 signs of Vitamin C deficiency.
2) Magnesium. Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and for regulating our blood pressure. It helps our immune system and is vital for healthy bones. Importantly, it can control hypertension and headaches and helps with preeclampsia during pregnancies. If you don't know if you are missing magnesium, be sure to check out these 12 signs of magnesium deficiency. If you are looking to increase magnesium in your diet, check out these top magnesium-rich foods.
3) Vitamin A. Also known as beta-carotene, a nutrient that your body turns into Vitamin A, this important vitamin helps eyesight and soft tissue, and it's important for healthy skin. If you don't know if you are missing vitamin A or not, be sure to check out these top signs of Vitamin A deficiency.
4) Calcium. We all know that calcium is important for healthy bones, but It also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, and possibly colon cancer. It can reduce symptoms of PMS and help with weight loss. If you are not sure if you are missing calcium or not, learn the vital signs of calcium deficiency.
5) Vitamin E. This is the anti-aging vitamin - it slows down signs of aging and keeps our cells healthy. You can get Vitamin E in foods like margarine, corn oil, cod-liver oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.
6) Iron. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency disease and is especially prevalent among women. It can arise simply from a lack of iron in the diet (or iron not being absorbed properly), but it can also be due to issues relating to childbirth or menstruation where there has been blood loss. Learn more about the top iron deficiency symptoms. However, keep in mind that you need adequate Vitamin C in your system in order to absorb the iron - so balance your vitamins!
7) Zinc. Zinc is good for quick healing, a healthy immune system, and a healthy pregnancy. If you are not sure if you are missing zinc or not, learn the signs of zinc deficiency. You can get zinc from oysters, extralean red meat, turkey, nuts, cooked dried beans and peas, wheat germ, and whole grains.
8) B-complex. The most essential of the B-complex are Vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid. B6 helps to build a healthy brain and spinal cord. It also makes DNA and RNA, the building blocks of cells, and prevents the changes in DNA that can lead to cancer. You can get B6 from fish, potatoes, chickpeas, bananas, beans, oatmeal, and poultry. B12 is especially important for metabolism, and it helps your body make red blood cells. You can get it from cheese, eggs, fish, meat, milk, and yogurt. Folate (or folic acid) is important for a healthy nervous system, and it's especially important for pregnant women, because it helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida. Foods high in folate include spinach and leafy greens, asparagus, citrus fruits, melons, strawberries, fortified grains, legumes, eggs, and liver.
9) Vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorus in your body, lowering your risk of osteoporosis. If you are not sure if you are missing Vitamin D or not, be sure to learn these top signs of Vitamin D deficiency.
10) Vitamin K. This plays an important role in keeping bones strong, preventing heart disease, and helping blood clot after injury. The best food sources include green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, broccoli, alfalfa, cooked spinach, and fish oil.
If you struggle to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need from your diet, try making a meal plan for the week ahead and include foods which are rich in the above vitamins. If this just isn't possible, or if you have special circumstances (like following a vegan diet, or going through menopause) then it may be best to get a multi-vitamin from your local pharmacy or health store. Look for one that is made especially for women.