If you're a woman in your 20s, you may be wondering which vitamins are best for your health. There are many different supplements to choose from, and standing in the health food section of your local grocery store can feel so overwhelming.
Luckily, it's easy for women in their 20s to incorporate many important vitamins and minerals into their diets. In fact, it's likely that some of the foods you already eat contain essential nutrients like vitamin C.
Here are five other vitamins and supplements that young women should make sure they are getting enough of.
If you are trying to increase your iron intake, avoid eating foods high in calcium alongside foods high in iron. Calcium actually inhibits the absorption of iron into the body.
Women need to keep their iron stores replenished since they naturally lose a small amount of iron each month via menstruation.
According to the Dieticians of Canada, women between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume approximately 18 mg of iron each day, and no more than 45 mg a day. That recommendation may change if a woman becomes pregnant or extremely malnourished.
Many of the foods we commonly eat contain good amounts of iron. These include:
- meats like chicken, ham, veal, and beef
- blackstrap molasses
- breakfast cereals fortified with iron
- beans, including chickpeas, kidney beans, and Lima beans
- nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and cashews
Iron is important because it:
- helps with oxygen production and circulation throughout the body
- helps support the immune system
- helps keep energy levels high
- helps with concentration and memory loss
- helps prevent cold and flu
A low iron supply can also lead to anemia, a condition which affects approximately 3.5 million people in America. Patients with anemia have abnormally low hemoglobin or a low number of red blood cells.
Anemia has many tell-tale symptoms, including heavy menstruation, lethargy, an inability to concentrate, and shortness of breath. In some women, pale skin and nail beds are also signs of anemia.
While anemia is a relatively common blood disorder in women, it could take anywhere from six months to a full year of treatment for anemia symptoms to completely vanish. Many young women put themselves at greater risk of contracting anemia through extreme dieting, which can cause potentially dangerous drops in iron levels. Diets that are low in vitamin C are also bad for the body since vitamin C helps support iron absorption.
A recent Canadian study showed that women who take up to 1000 mg of calcium each day have a 22% lower risk of early death.
Calcium is a key nutrient that helps your body build new bones and keeps those bones strong. While most women don't begin to experience bone thinning until after age 30, it's recommended that women begin to eat a diet rich in calcium in their 20s to stave off bone loss later in life.
Good bone health is the key to avoiding diseases like osteoporosis, which affects up to one-third of women during their lifetime.
So how much calcium do women in their 20s need? According to the National Institutes of Health, adults between the ages of 19 and 50 need approximately 1000 mg of calcium a day. This is slightly less than the daily recommendation for teenagers, but is still a significant dietary requirement for women in their twenties.
When most people think of adding more calcium to their diets, they turn to dairy products like milk and cheese. What's lesser known is that many leafy greens, including kale, broccoli, spinach, and Chinese cabbage, are also rich in calcium. As well, certain types of nuts and seeds, like almonds and sesame seeds, contain excellent amounts.
While most grains are not a natural source of calcium, many breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium by the manufacturer. If you are looking to incorporate more calcium into your diet, these cereals are a good starting point, especially if you enjoy them with a bowl of milk.
Did you know that almost three-quarters of Americans could be deficient in vitamin D?
We receive vitamin D naturally from UVB rays in sunlight. In winter, however, when we're not outside as often, it's a good idea to add extra vitamin D to our diets.
Taking vitamin D can also help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as the winter blues. There are recent studies which suggest that increasing vitamin D intake, as well regular exercise, can make you feel much happier in the winter months, when the amount of sunlight is at its lowest point.
These studies have also underlined the importance of vitamin D for pregnant women, or women who are trying to become pregnant. In fact, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to infertility.
Vitamin D helps combat hormone imbalance and conditions such as estrogen dominance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which sometimes affect a woman's ability to conceive. Vitamin D also decreases the risk of gestational diabetes and helps support bone health in both mothers and their babies.
Finally, Vitamin D helps boost the immune system and works to prevent cold and flu.
Vitamin B refers to a group of closely related vitamins that play a key role in energy production and the nervous system.
While each of eight B vitamins has a distinct name and function, taken together they are very good at controlling the mood fluctuations and anxiety often experienced by women in their twenties.
A B-complex vitamin can be especially effective if you are someone who experiences chronic anxiety or extreme PMS. According to a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking vitamin B1 on a regular basis can help decrease serious premenstrual symptoms and make women feel more in control of their emotions.
Studies have also shown that foods which naturally contain vitamin B, as opposed to synthetic supplements, are best for your health. Luckily, it's very easy to incorporate more vitamin B into your diet since many beans, seeds, and green vegetables contain excellent amounts.
Folic acid is really just vitamin B9, another really essential nutrient for women in their twenties. Most women already know that folic acid is one of the keys to a healthy pregnancy, since it helps prevent miscarriage and birth defects such as spina bifida.
However, the other health benefits of folic acid for women in their twenties are lesser known. For example, folic acid can actually help prevent memory loss and bone weakness as you age.
Even if you are not planning on getting pregnant, experts recommend that women should take between 0.4 and 0.8 mg of folic acid a day. People with certain medical conditions, such as liver disease and epilepsy, may require different doses of folic acid.
There are many foods that are naturally rich in folic acid, including:
- black beans
- sunflower seeds
- orange juice
It's best to take folic acid alongside other B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, to experience the most beneficial effects. Like most of the other nutrients and vitamins on this list, folic acid works synergistically, meaning it complements the metabolic processes of other natural supplements.
thefedorows from the Midwest on August 01, 2014:
Well-written hub and great information!
Justin Roberts on May 05, 2014:
This article is very useful. I have low ferritin and hypothyroid too. I get to know that low ferritin may lead to a decreased body temperature as well. Therefore i am thinking to take iron vitamins for women very soon.