While most of us try to eat well and supplement for the times when we do not eat well, do we really know what supplements are the most important? For women, it is important to get enough of these five vitamins: Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.

Vitamin A

We get vitamin A from a number of dietary sources – including beef; salmon; dairy; and yellow, orange, and green fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin A is crucially important for pregnant women and their babies, as it effects eye health and vision.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is contained in beef liver, clams, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. B12 deficiency can cause tiredness and nerve pain, depression, and weight loss. It is particularly important that vegans and vegetarians get enough B12.

Vitamin B12 helps our nervous systems handle stress, and is therefore important for women in all stages of life.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found primarily in citrus fruits, kiwi, and bell peppers that helps a woman’s immune system work properly.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it helps to protect cells from damage by exposure to free radicals in our environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

Vitamin D3

We get vitamin D3 from fatty fish, mushrooms, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Additionally, most milk sold in the US has vitamin D added.

According to an article published in the Johns Hopkins Arthritis newsletter, most patients diagnosed with pain due to inflammatory joint disease had low levels of vitamin D3.

According to a study presented at the 2008 European Union League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) meeting in Paris, nearly 75 percent of patients who presented at a rheumatology clinic — including those who were subsequently diagnosed with inflammatory joint diseases, soft-tissue rheumatism, uncomplicated musculoskeletal backache or osteoporosis — were deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D3 also helps women build and maintain bone density, prevents colon cancer, and plays a role in a healthy immune system.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the one vitamin that we do not get enough of in our typical American diet, since we get vitamin E from vegetable oils, nuts, and green vegetables. According to the NIH, Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage that results in loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness, and vision problems. Another sign of deficiency is a weakened immune system.

Do You Need Supplements?

If you are a woman who eats a wide variety of foods, including fish and animal protein, multi-color fruits and vegetables, seed, nut, and vegetable oils, dairy, and eggs – congratulations! You are probably close to getting what you need from your food.

But if you have a lot of stress in your life, are pregnant, peri-, post-, or in menopause, sometimes skip meals, are vegetarian or vegan, limit dairy, or don’t eat a lot of different produce, chances are you need to supplement these vitamins.

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Women's Health
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