Women have unique nutritional needs because of the ways in which their bodies function. These nutritional needs change, depending on the woman's age. If they are trying to start a family, they will require different vitamins and minerals than women who are going through menopause. Whatever life stage you are at, your body may benefit from a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that help your body function at an optimal level.
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It can be difficult to eat a sufficiently varied diet to ingest all of the vitamins and minerals that your body requires every day. With hectic lives, many women may resort to processed foods, which tend to have lower levels of essential vitamins and minerals. To ensure that you are getting all the vital nutrients that you need for optimal health and wellbeing, you may consider supplementing your diet with a multivitamin designed for your life stage.
Immediately upon making the decision to have a baby, even while trying to conceive, there are specific vitamins that are advised to be included in your diet, such as folic acid, calcium and iron. Many doctors believe these vitamins are vital to ensuring that your baby receives the nutrition needed to develop and grow. Folic acid is thought by many to be essential for the healthy development of neural tubes, which affect the brain and the spinal cord. Neural tubes develop in the first month of pregnancy, before many women even know that they have conceived. Therefore, women who are attempting to become pregnant are often advised to take a supplement that may provide their bodies with the optimal level of folic acid.
As your baby develops, it draws vitamins from your body to help it grow. Many obstetricians advise women to maintain high levels of calcium, because it is believed that calcium helps the baby form bones. If your calcium levels drop, your bone density may be adversely affected as supplies of calcium are diverted to the growing baby. Calcium is also believed to be beneficial for older women, who are at risk from bone thinning conditions such as osteoporosis.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 may occur in women over the age of 50 because their bodies become less efficient at extracting it from food sources. Vegetarians and vegans of all ages are also at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because it is difficult to obtain this nutrient from plant-based sources. Depleted levels of vitamin B12 may lead to anemia. A B12 multivitamin may help to restore your body's B12 content to optimal levels.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that helps keeps bones strong by activating calcium and phosphorous, two critical components of bone. When a person does not have enough vitamin D in the body or when the supply of vitamin D is not adequate, calcium and phosphorous will be pulled from the bones. This can thin your bones, making them fragile and weak, and contribute to osteoporosis. Vitamin D can be obtained from food, such as fish and it can be activated by skin exposure to sunlight. However, with increasing awareness of the damage that UVA and UVB rays can cause to the skin, vitamin D deficiencies are becoming increasingly common. Many people are avoiding sun exposure or wearing sunscreen to reduce the amount of UV rays reaching their skin. Lowered levels of vitamin D are a particular risk for older women, due to their increased risk of osteoporosis . Taking a daily multivitamin that includes vitamin D may help to promote good bone health.
Theoretically, you can get all the recommended vitamins and minerals without taking supplements by eating a nutritious, balanced diet. However, in today's hectic and calorie conscious world, many women find it difficult to eat all the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. It is also possible to have too much of a good thing. Taking too many or too much of one vitamin can lead to serious side effects. Speak to your healthcare provider about your specific need for vitamins or supplements. 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.
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