Which vitamins are more important for women?
By Amber Malik| Nutritionist and Holistic Chef
Which vitamins are more important for women?
When it comes to vitamins, men and women have varying needs. Everybody requires the broad spectrum of vitamins but there are a few specific ones that women must have in greater quantities than men for general health. Multivitamins that target both men and women alike, and have a ‘one size fits all’ dose, don’t take these differences into account. If you’re supplementing with vitamins, it’s important to look at gender-specific vitamin ranges and avoid multivitamins. The folk at Vitamin Buddy go even further by offering bespoke vitamin plans for individuals, not just males and females, based on results from their lifestyle quiz. In this article, we’ll focus on the 4 key vitamins that women require in larger amounts than men. You may find that you’re experiencing certain symptoms that could be related to a greater need of one of these vitamins and it’ll be useful to take the Vitamin Buddy test to see which recommendations crop up.
Due to blood loss through menstruation, women are far more at risk of iron deficiency. The most common symptom of a deficiency is tiredness or fatigue and, left untreated, deficiency can lead to anaemia. Anaemia means there are not enough blood cells to transport oxygen around the body, and may cause organ damage. The heart works even harder to try to get oxygen around, putting a great deal of stress on it. Girls and women of childbearing age generally need double the amount of iron than men, and pregnant women require more than triple. Post-menopause, females’ needs drop to the same amount as males. Anybody who suffers from tiredness and fatigue, despite being in general good health, may benefit from asking his or her GP to specifically issue a serum ferritin blood test to correctly check iron levels (the standard blood test done by doctors does not check serum ferritin and can incorrectly show a ‘normal’ result even when deficiency is present.) If a deficiency does exist, supplementation is the quickest way to treat it. Bear in mind also that Vitamin C must be present for iron to be absorbed.
Called folate when found in food, this vitamin is known as folic acid when taken as a supplement. It’s a particular B Vitamin required to make DNA and other genetic material, hence why it’s considered so important during pregnancy. Teen girls and women are recommended to ensure their folate levels are adequate even when not pregnant, and the amounts needed are even higher when pregnancy occurs. Vitamin Buddy have a specific folic acid supplement but also source a vitamin B complex that contains it along with other important B vitamins.
The sunshine vitamin! More of us on earth are likely deficient in this essential vitamin (or hormone, if we want to be accurate) than not, thanks to excessive avoidance of sunshine and lack of correct information regarding the difference between the sun’s beneficial and harmful properties. It’s very difficult to obtain Vitamin D in adequate amounts from food, meaning those of us in countries with too little sun need to supplement – that’s usually most countries in the northern hemisphere! A Vitamin D deficiency can cause a whole host of general health problems, one of which is bone health. Without Vitamin D, the body can’t absorb calcium. Read on to find out why this has special significance for women.
This mineral is the most abundant in the body as it’s stored in the bones. In order for calcium to be absorbed efficiently, the body requires not just Vitamin D but balanced levels of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is a vital player in women’s health, especially reproductive health. After menopause, estrogen levels can drop dramatically and impact their ability to absorb calcium, putting women at risk of bone problems like osteoporosis. That’s why osteoporosis is something that affects more women than men. But it’s not just due to hormones. Statistically, men seem to generally partake in activities that encourage bone health more than women, such as weight-bearing exercise and less over-avoidance of sunshine in correct, beneficial amounts for their bodies.
Dairy has been long considered to be the best source of calcium. However, today’s milk is a very processed food. Dairy contains many residues of hormones and pharmaceutical drugs (fed to cows) that can wreak havoc with our own hormones, affecting our health and wellness. Milk does contain calcium but very little of it can be absorbed by humans, as it’s meant for baby cows. When milk is pasteurised or homogenised – as every dairy product on the average supermarket shelf is – it’s absorbed even less and can even be too acidic for the body, potentially leading to inflammation. Unless a person’s consumption of dairy focuses on organic, grass-fed, raw/unpasteurised and fermented products such as kefir and yoghurt, a high-quality supplement may be better for some people to take care of their calcium needs than dairy. Many traditional societies who’ve consumed milk from animals without any problem for centuries haven’t relied on modern farming; dairy is naturally organic, grass-fed and raw and taken directly from the animal into the home to be cultured by hand. Statistics now show a clear link between nations with high rates of modern, processed dairy consumption and higher rates of bone problems like osteoporosis.
As a woman, if you’re concerned about any of these issues for your present or future health, or have any symptoms related to deficiency, or have discussed supplementation with your medical practitioner, why not take the free Vitamin Buddy quiz? Take charge of your well-being and enjoy the benefits of looking after yourself now!