Amidst the busy lifestyles that women lead these days it is not uncommon for them to lose sight of their nutritional needs and more often than not there is a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in their diet. To overcome this problem, it is important to be well informed about your vitamin requirements and their sources, so as to include them in your day to day diet as well as in identifying when supplementation is required.
Vitamin requirements vary depending on which stage of life a woman is in.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that is indispensable for normal vision, slowing of skin aging and it also boosts the immune system. Hence, Vitamin A rich foods are a ‘must include’ in your day to day diet irrespective of which stage of life you are in!
Vitamin A is abundantly present in animal foods in the form of retinol (preformed Vit A) which is found in Fish liver oil, butter, cheese, egg and milk.
The richest plant sources (beta-carotene) being carrots, spinach, amaranth and green leaves.
Daily requirement for women is 750mcg (retinol) or 4800mcg (beta-carotene)
Vitamin D promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption, enhances bone mineralization and stimulates bone re-absorption. These properties make vitamin D crucial for post-menopausal women who are generally low on calcium and may require supplementation.
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin that can be derived from both sunlight and foods. It’s not a dietary requirement at all for young women as long as there is adequate exposure to sunlight for as little as five minutes per day!
Some foods that have Vit D are: Cod liver oil, egg yolk, milk, fish and butter.
Daily requirement: Lots of sunlight! (10 mcg/day)
VITAMIN C AND VITAMIN E
Both are powerful antioxidants! These vitamins are popularly known for their positive effects on skin. Vit E helps in reducing the risk of heart disease and Vit C helps with absorption of iron and cellular oxidation.
You’ll find plenty of Vit E in vegetable oils e.g. wheat germ oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil.
While fruits are the best source of Vit C e.g. amla, guava, lime, orange, tomato.
Daily requirement: Vit E-8mg/day, Vit C-75mg/day
B COMPLEX GROUP OF VITAMINS
The All mighty B-complex group of vitamins provide a powerhouse of benefits for women of all ages! Their most important properties are:
1) Promoting cell growth and division
2) Aiding protein, fat and energy metabolism
4) Essential for the normal functioning of skin and nervous systems
5) Easing stress and improving mood
Among the B-complex group of vitamins, B9 (folic acid) and B12 are especially important for pregnant women as they aid in synthesis of DNA and red blood cells.
Good Sources of B-vitamins
Eggs, tuna, dairy products, whole grains, legumes, potatoes, bananas.
Vegetarians may find the need to take supplements of B-complex vitamins as they are mostly found in animal products.
It is important to note that there is such a thing as vitamin overdose. Although the chances of overdose through dietary sources are remote, vitamin supplementation overdose is highly possible and can cause adverse effects. Hence, always consult your doctor before taking any such supplements.
So remember ladies, eat a healthy balanced diet and make sure to keep up with your vitamins!
Doctor by profession, ardent animal lover by choice; she finds writing to be therapeutic. She loves meeting new people, hopes to travel the world and has karaoking with Oprah on top of her bucket list. @kirtana_ponnuswamy