Vitamins are chemicals that play an essential role in the reactions inside the cells everywhere in our bodies and thus helps our bodies function, rejuvenate and perform its best. Since the human body cannot produce vitamins itself, we need to get the vitamins we need through our diet or through dietary supplements.
Men and women alike, we all need our vitamins. However, there are some illnesses and health challenges that are more often found in women than men, because during the different stages of a woman’s life such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, the female body undergoes certain hormonal changes which all cause new challenges of health that need to be met.
This article will focus on the top 4 most essential vitamins that women should make sure to get through their diet to maintain a strong health and overall wellbeing, and which foods to eat to get enough of them.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A plays an important role in the health and survival of both mother and child during pregnancy, It also helps maintain strong teeth, bones, hair and nails.
Vitamin A can be found mostly in animal products. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you will have to eat a fair amount of beta-carotene, which will be transformed into vitamin A once inside the body. Beta-carotene is what colors carrots in that beautiful orange color. It can also be found in dried apricots, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, mango and melons, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, dill etc.
2. Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-6 helps reduce the risk of depressions caused by lack of serotonin in the brain which affects nearly twice as many women as men. Symptoms of depression such as excessive sadness, feelings of worthlessness and apathy is, according to Scientists at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, associated with a low blood level of vitamin B-6.
Also, vitamin B-6 can be used to reduce menstrual pain as well as to reduce morning sickness during pregnancy.
Vitamin B-6 can be obtained from a variation of foods such as poultry, fish, whole-grain products and vegetables. Be aware though that it is a fairly delicate vitamin and that boiling or frying foods will break down most of the vitamin B-6.
3. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is important to prevent anemia, since it helps produce new red blood cells. During a woman’s monthly cycle, she might experience symptoms of anemia such as dizziness or lack of energy. This is because the vitamin is broken down by estrogen and when the body’s level of estrogen increases, the level of Vitamin B-12 decreases.
The most important sources of vitamin B-12 are dairy products, eggs and fish.
4. Vitamin D
High doses of vitamin D are helpful for postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporosis. This is because the body loses its ability to obtain calcium from foods after menopause. Vitamin D helps the body obtain calcium and thus prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is found in very few foods such as cod liver oil, fat fish such as salmon, sardines and herring, and in eggs. If you don’t like fish, your body is able to produce vitamin D by itself when exposed to sunlight.