The supplement industry totals $12 billion in revenue per year (and counting). So, if you're wondering whether vitamins are worthwhile, almost half of American adults agree that they are. This percentage increases to over 70 percent in seniors, aged 65 and older.
But despite these impressive figures, are daily vitamins actually worth your money and how can they benefit you, as a woman? In this blog we take a deeper dive into the nutrient needs of women, and how vitamins can help to fill certain nutrient gaps in the diet. Read on for more.
The Nutrient Needs of Women
All women have different nutrient needs as they age throughout their lifetime. A 19-year-old woman will have different vitamin and mineral needs compared to a pregnant 35-year-old woman, for example. Some women of the exact same age might have differing nutrient deficiencies based on their diet, lifestyle, and overall health, too.
But there are certain periods in a woman's life where nutrient deficiencies are more common. This includes pregnancy, breastfeeding, being over the age of 65, and if you live with a chronic medical condition. Women who smoke regularly also require additional nutrients, such as vitamin C.
Your needs as a woman are very particular to you. It's important to visit your doctor and have bloodwork done if you suspect that you could have deficiencies. It's worthwhile just having a general checkup from time to time, too.
Here's what women of different ages and stages of life generally tend to lack:
While young girls around the ages of 9-13 don't necessarily need to supplement with vitamins because of their smaller body sizes, girls over the age of 14 begin to develop larger nutrient needs -- similar to that of an adult woman.
Teenage girls are actually at the greatest risk of developing nutrient deficiencies because their bodies grow at such as rapid rate during this phase of life. Some of these common deficiencies include vitamin D and folate.
Due to the simplified or sometimes unbalanced diet of a teen, they can also lack essential vitamins such as vitamin C and B vitamins. This is where a teen-friendly multivitamin can really help.
There are considered some of the busiest years of your life, marked by huge life transitions and transformations. In other words, the body goes through a lot during this time and therefore needs plenty of nutrients to balance things out.
Most women between the ages of 19-50 tend to lack a number of nutrients, the most common being vitamin D, iron, and vitamin B6.
Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Breastfeeding
This is a key time in a woman's life when they need to focus on their nutrient intake. During pregnancy, the body requires additional vitamins and minerals to support both fetal and maternal health. The most important of these include folic acid, iodine, choline, and vitamin D.
In fact, many studies show that up to 30 percent of pregnant women across the globe have vitamin D deficiencies. Pregnant women require up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. While breastfeeding women require almost double that, at 6,400 IU per day.
When it comes to folic acid and iodine, these vitamins are most important during the first trimester to assist with the neural tube development of the fetus. From there, pregnant women require up to 450mg of choline per day. Bear in mind that many prenatal vitamins don't always contain choline.
Postmenopause is also a very important time in a woman's life to focus on nutrient needs. Menopause causes major hormonal fluctuations and changes in the body, which can often result in a range of deficiencies.
Most postmenopausal women tend to have deficiencies in magnesium, calcium, and vitamins D, C, B6, and B12. What's more, women over the age of 65 tend to maintain poorer or limited diets due to a loss of appetite, illness, or depression.
This puts the body at even greater risk of a multitude of deficiencies. This is why taking a multivitamin as you age is so important.
Other Important Factors
Aside from your age and phase of life, there are a number of metabolic, medical, and lifestyle factors that could impact the daily supplements your body needs. Just some of the most common include:
- Your personal body weight
- Your lifestyle, i.e. do you smoke? How much alcohol do you drink? How much do you exercise, etc.?
- Any medications you're taking
- Do you have any chronic medical conditions?
Some women with chronic conditions such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and other gastrointestinal conditions might have far greater nutrient needs versus women of the same age. Women with obesity also tend to lack essential D and B12 vitamins.
With all of this in mind, how do vitamins benefit female health? Let's take a look at the benefits of daily supplements:
1. Boosted Immunity and Nervous System
When your body has an adequate amount of nutrients to work with, it performs better. Just like a well-oiled machine, your body requires these essential vitamins and minerals to operate at its optimum. The role of your body is to carry you through life, protect you from illness, and help you perform everyday tasks, regulated by your cognition and nervous system.
Nutrients such as vitamin A play a huge role in helping the body protect you as they act as antioxidants, fighting off free radicals that damage your cells. Vitamin A (in the right amount) therefore boosts your immune system.
Vitamin B (and other essential B vitamins) are important for maintaining your energy levels throughout the day. As well as regulating many of your body's metabolic processes. These vitamins help to keep the nervous system in top working order.
2. Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails
If you're looking to improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails, the right multivitamin can do that for you -- along with a healthy, balanced diet.
Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for this include vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, biotin, and nicotinamide. A collagen supplement can also do wonders.
3. Improved Mood and Cognitive Function
As mentioned, the B vitamins are essential in maintaining your nervous system, but they also play a role in your cognitive function and mood.
Vitamin B6 is especially crucial in the healthy production of serotonin and GABA, which help to maintain good cognitive function and a balanced mood. If you struggle with mood imbalances or depression, a vitamin rich in B6 and omega-3s could make a difference.
4. Reduces the Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies
The most obvious role and benefit of taking daily vitamins is that they help to fill the gaps in any nutrient deficiencies you might have. For example, taking a daily multivitamin can help to round out your nutrient needs if your diet is lacking in any way.
Some of the most important daily vitamins to focus on (and also the most commonly deficient in women) include iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B. A severe lack of these vitamins can lead to a host of unwanted symptoms and diseases such as anemia.
5. Helps to Balance Your Weight
Iodine is one of those essential nutrients that the body needs in order to regulate your hormones. Its role is to help the thyroid produce crucial hormones that regulate numerous bodily functions, including the metabolism.
Not only this, but iodine helps to regulate the rate at which we burn energy, which in turn, stabilizes your weight. Chromium is also an important nutrient that can help stabilize blood sugar levels and sugar cravings.
6. Maintain Your Health as You Age
It goes without saying that as you age, your nutrient needs increase. This is due to a range of factors, but for women, the most universal include metabolic changes due to menopause, a decrease in appetite, diet changes, and illness.
Taking a multivitamin is a good way to help your aging body cope with all these changes, but also fills in the gaps where your diet may fall short. Or, where illness depletes you of essential nutrients.
As women age, they are at high risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis -- the loss of bone density. Supplementing with vitamins like calcium, and vitamins D and C can help to prevent or manage this condition.
7. Assist With Malabsorption Conditions
If you live with a chronic condition or illness that affects how your body absorbs or metabolizes nutrients, then taking essential vitamins is very important for your health. More important than ever.
Some of these conditions include cystic fibrosis, ulcerative colitis, Celiac disease, and if you've undergone gastric bypass surgery, as well as various illnesses that cause diarrhea or vomiting.
Depending on your specific condition and your overall health, your doctor or naturopath should recommend the best vitamins to take.
Stock Up on Your Daily Vitamins Right Here
If you're a woman looking to fill certain nutrient needs in your diet, no matter your age, a good regimen of daily vitamins can really do wonders for your health.
Take some time to shop our site, offering a huge range of vitamins and supplements to suit your needs. Whether it's a comprehensive daily vitamin, a top-up of omega-3, or a supplement for hair, skin, and nails, we offer it all. Check out our women's collection, here.