Essential vitamins for women at every age
Is vitamin D important for women?
Vitamin D is usually categorized as a fat-soluble vitamin. However, it actually functions as a hormone in the body. Vitamin D helps to activate calcium and phosphorus -- important minerals for keeping bones strong -- into the bloodstream. When the body is depleted of vitamin D or has an insufficient supply, your body turns to the bones for replenishing calcium and phosphorus. This can thin your bones and contribute to osteoporosis.
Food sources of vitamin D include fish. And of course, sunshine is an excellent source, as well. Although, it's best to limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Don't forget to wear a hat, and use sunscreen!
What are the recommendations for vitamin D?
Younger adults may get plenty of sunlight throughout the day to keep this vitamin at the proper level. Many middle aged and older adults, on the other hand, may have more a problem. The Food Standards Agency recommends that older adults, people of Asian origin, and people who do not get adequate sunlight each day take extra vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified foods and/or supplements. Because calcium and vitamin D are closely linked, many doctors recommend that older people, especially postmenopausal women, take a combined calcium and vitamin D supplement.
What foods contain vitamin K?
Vitamin K is not considered an essential vitamin. It does, though, play a key role in promoting strong bones and maintaining normal blood clotting in older people. The best food sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, soybean oil, broccoli, alfalfa, cooked spinach, and fish oil.
Do I have to eat whole foods to get these essential vitamins or could I use supplements?
Most dietitians recommend getting essential vitamins through whole foods without relying on supplements. But talk to your doctor to make sure.
With whole fruits, you get specific vitamins, as well as all the essential nutrients necessary for immune function and energy.
The likelihood of ingesting too much of any vitamin from whole foods is remote. However, overdosing from vitamin supplementation does occur. In large doses, some vitamins have documented side effects that tend to be more severe. For these reasons, you should never take megadoses of any vitamin without speaking to your doctor first.