”Question: During Women's Health Month what nutritional information would help improve my health?
Reading time: 4 Minutes
- Learn about the nuanced needs of women’s health concerning vitamins.
- Here are a few vitamins that are especially important for women’s health:
- Antioxidants such as retinol, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E help support the immune system and skin health, among other body functions
- B-vitamins, like B6, B12, and folic acid, support brain health and metabolism.
- Vitamins D and K support skin health and bone health, which is especially important for women as they age.
- These vitamins can be found in many different kinds of foods. Foods should be the primary source of these nutrients versus supplements.
Your body changes it to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps eyesight, soft tissue, and skin. You’ll find it in apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, guava, kale, papaya, peaches, pumpkins, red peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.
You may also hear it called ascorbic acid. It aids in healing wounds and helps your body make red blood cells. It also boosts levels of the brain chemical called norepinephrine, which makes you feel more alert and amps up your concentration.
Studies show that when you’re under a lot of stress, or as you get older, your levels of ascorbic acid go down. You can get vitamin C from broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes.
It’s also known as tocopherol and includes related compounds called tocotrienols. Your body needs it to keep cells healthy. It may slow signs of aging, too. But you raise your risk of bleeding if you take too much of it every day. You can get this nutrient in foods like corn oil, cod-liver oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.
There are a few types of these nutrients, and they’re all good for your body. But three of them — vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid — are especially important.
Also known as pyridoxine. You need it to keep your brain working well and to help your body change food into energy, which is called metabolism. It can be toxic if you get too much of it at once, so your best bet is to eat foods that have this nutrient in it. Try fish, potatoes, chickpeas, avocadoes, bananas, beans, cereal, meats, oatmeal, and poultry.
Also important for metabolism, and it helps your body make red blood cells. You can get it from cheese, eggs, fish, meat, milk, and yogurt. Older adults, people with anemia, vegans, and vegetarians should work with a doctor to make sure they get enough of it.
Folate (folic acid).
It helps 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. Adults and children need it to build normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. But 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, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, eggs, and liver.
It may be called a vitamin, but it actually works as a hormone. It helps to move calcium and phosphorus — important minerals for keeping bones strong — into your bloodstream. When your body doesn’t have enough vitamin D, it will take calcium and phosphorus from your bones. Over time, this makes them thin and leads to conditions like osteoporosis, which puts you at risk for fractures.
You can get vitamin D if you eat eggs and fish, especially salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Many middle-aged and older adults, though, might need to get what they need from “fortified” foods, which have the nutrient added by the manufacturer, or from supplements.
It plays an important role in keeping bones strong and helping blood clot for older people. The best food sources include green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, broccoli, alfalfa, cooked spinach, and fish oil.
Foods vs. Supplements: Which Is Better?
Most dietitians say it’s better to get key vitamins from foods without relying on supplements. But talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you. Follow their directions so you don’t take more than you should.
MWi would like to thank Dr. Traci C. Johnson for sharing these insights with our community. Click the button below to go to the original article: