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Women go through different reproductive health stages throughout life. There are four stages:
During each stage, women’s bodies have specific needs for vitamins and nutrients. These needs also change as our diets and lifestyles change and as we age. Through proper nutrition, your body should receive the recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals it requires. However, for some women, it can be difficult to maintain good eating habits while juggling day-to-day responsibilities. With a busy lifestyle, it is difficult for many women to meet their nutritional needs from their diet alone. In this blog, we’ll explain the best vitamins for women to take throughout various life stages and at different ages, especially as hormones change.
The reproductive years begin in puberty and last until menopause. This is when women experience menstruation and hormonal fluctuations. These changes have a profound impact on a woman’s nutritional needs.
1. Folic acid
Folic acid is also referred to as folate or vitamin B9. It helps make healthy red blood cells, DNA, and RNA, and plays a role in metabolizing proteins. It is also essential in breaking down homocysteine, a risk factor for atherosclerosis, which is when the arteries harden and thicken. Folic acid is most well-known for supporting healthy pregnancies and preventing neural tube defects in a developing fetus.
Iron is an important mineral that works with other substances to create hemoglobin, a protein in the blood that carries oxygen. Women who don’t consume a lot of meat, athletes, pregnant women, and women with moderate-to-heavy menstrual bleeding can be deficient in iron. Women require more iron than men to make up for the iron lost during their menstrual cycle.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system and is also a key element in the formation of collagen. Collagen helps maintain healthy skin, supports joint health, and may help prevent bone loss.
A probiotic that is specifically formulated for women can support a healthy vaginal microflora and microbiome, as well as support gut health and immune function.
This stage is generally for women in their 40s. They are preparing to enter menopause and may begin experiencing hormonal changes that result in symptoms such as hot flashes.
Omega-3 supports heart health, brain health, and vision, and reduces inflammation.
6. Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil contains an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that has beneficial effects on the immune system, cell membranes, inflammatory skin conditions, and hormone balance. GLA has also been seen to help ease symptoms associated with atopic eczema as well as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
7. B vitamins
A vitamin Bcomplex is made up of eight vitamins – thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), vitamin B6, biotin (B7), vitamin B12, and folic acid. These B vitamins work together and individually to support mood, digestion, sleep health, and likely a welcome boost of energy as they help convert food into fuel. They also support the cardiovascular system and can help maintain nail, hair, and skin health.
Biotin helps prevent biotin deficiency while maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails. Biotin helps prevent splitting and brittle fingernails.
9. Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D
Calcium and magnesium along with vitamin D are essential nutrients for a healthy skeleton. Taking vitamin D alongside calcium supports and maintains healthy bones.A recent review has indicated that a higher magnesium intake is associated with higher hip and femoral neck bone mineral density.
For many of us, it can be difficult to get the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2014, about 4 in 10 Canadian adults reported that they consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day.And according to the Journal of Pediatrics, more than 1 in 3 children and teenagers do not meet the recommended intakes for calcium and vitamin D.
Researchers have found that supplements help adults meet the recommended daily intake of some minerals. A recent study indicates that there is an association between taking multivitamins and minerals for more than three years and reduced risk in women of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Research has also found a correlation between multivitamin use and beneficial effects on mood, along with elevated B vitamin levels and lowered homocysteine levels in healthy young adults.
My advice is to choose a multivitamin specific to you and your health needs. Sex and age-specific multivitamins can help you address the needs your body may have at different stages of your life.
No matter where you are in life, supplementing your diet with these vitamins and minerals can benefit your overall health and help you get the nutrients you need.
Joyce Johnson ND (Inactive)
Dr. Joyce Johnson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and natural health and lifestyle expert with 18 years of experience in the natural medicine field.