By Jill Levy
While it’s possible to get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from careful food selection and a nutrient-dense diet, experts believe that many women still lack at least one type of essential nutrient.
Among the most critical and best vitamins for women to take are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins, such as thiamine and vitamin B12. (In addition to vitamins, there are a number of important trace minerals — notably iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine — and fatty acids like omega-3s that women must obtain from their diets, too.)
It’s estimated that around 30 percent of all women are deficient in one or more essential nutrients, and for many women, the risk of running low only increases with age.
With that in mind, what are the most important and best vitamins for women to take in supplement form? Let’s take a closer look below.
Getting Enough Nutrients?
Women’s nutrient intake is thought to be highly dependent on factors like their economic status, social and cultural environment, and personal habits.
Some factors that may make women more likely to be lacking certain nutrients include:
- eating a highly processed diet (one low in things like fresh vegetables and fruit)
- being a vegetarian or vegan
- being underweight or consuming too little calories in general (“underweight” is generally considered below a body mass index of 18.5 for women)
- being of reproductive age (for women who are preparing to have children, proper nutritional status before, during and after pregnancy is an important element of overall reproductive health)
- being over the age of 65
- low socioeconomic status, a lack of education and poverty
- breastfeeding and being pregnant, which increase caloric and nutrient needs
No matter what your age, there are a handful of vitamins that women should be sure to emphasize in their diets and/or to supplement with in order to get enough of.
Best Vitamins for Women
1. Vitamin C
The so-called antioxidant vitamins — A, C and E — help to fight free radical damage, which can take a toll on the health of the heart, eyes, skin and brain.
Vitamin C supplements and foods can help to support a healthy immune system, and are also supportive of healthy vision and skin health. Ancient Nutrition's unique Vitamin C + Probiotics supplement includes the soil-based organism probiotic, Bacillus subtilis, in order to make the vitamin C more absorbable plus add further immune health benefits plus add support for a healthy gut microflora.
2. Vitamin E
A fat-soluble vitamin with many important processes in the body, this bioavailable, natural vitamin E also functions as an antioxidant. Ancient Nutrition's vitamin E supplement is powered by enzyme-activation and features a potent combination of hair-, skin- and bone-supporting real-food ingredients.
Vitamin E is found naturally in foods such as raw or sprouted nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, eggs and butter.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamins A, or beta-carotene, helps promote healthy immune system defense, healthy antioxidant activity and healthy neuron function. In the body, beta-carotene converts into vitamin A (retinol). According to experts, diets that include adequate or high levels of this nutrient may support the overall health of eyes and the skin.
Most multivitamins contains plenty of vitamin A to more than cover your daily needs. Ancient Multivitamin Women's Capsules, for example, include 322 percent of your Daily Value for vitamin A. And Ancient Multivitamin Women's Once Daily Capsules contains 161 percent of your Daily Value.
4. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 can be obtained from certain foods like eggs, some dairy products and certain mushrooms, but we get the overwhelming majority of our vitamin D from sun exposure.
Both men and women can experience low levels of vitamin D if they spend a large majority of their time indoors, as many adults do.
Vitamin D in general is important for bone/skeletal health, brain function, immune support, a positive outlook, cardiovascular function and more. Your best bet to make sure you get enough is to spend 15–20 minutes outside most days of the week without sunscreen on, which allows your body to synthesize vitamin D3. If this isn’t realistic for you, supplementing is a good back-up option.
With 625 percent of your Daily Value, Ancient Nutrients Vitamin D is powered by fermentation for a better absorption rate and includes superfood ingredients.
5. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is important for building and maintaining strong bones, for normal blood clotting, and for supporting heart health. This vitamin plays a role in normal bone metabolism and helps to generally ensure that calcium gets to the right places in the body, such as the bones and teeth.
Many women fall short in this valuable nutrient, which is a shame considering it plays a major role in facilitating healthy cardiovascular functions and supporting arterial health.
There are two main types of vitamin K, both of which we acquire from our diets. Vitamin K1 is found in vegetables, while vitamin K2 is found in things like dairy products.
The best way to get enough of both kinds is to eat plenty of different veggies, including green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, fish and eggs, along with aged cheeses. Additionally, supplementing with vitamin K2 can help to support strong bones and other functions if your diet tends to supply low amounts.
6. B Vitamins, Including Folate
B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and folate, are important for a woman’s metabolism, supporting healthy energy levels, fighting fatigue and for supporting cognitive functions. They may help with cellular processes, growth and energy expenditure because they work with other vitamins like iron to make red blood cells and help turn the calories you eat into usable “fuel.”
Folate (which is called folic acid when it’s created synthetically) is critical for a healthy pregnancy and for healthy developing fetuses, since it helps build the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
That’s why getting enough folate is important for pregnant women and why prenatal supplements containing folate — which are formulated specifically for women in their childbearing years, pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and throughout lactation — are recommended. Ideally, stick to fermented folic acid/folate, which is metabolized by the body similarly to naturally occurring folate.
You can get plenty of B vitamins from animal products like cage-free eggs, fish, meat, milk and yogurt. Older women, those during child-bearing years, vegans and vegetarians should consult their healthcare professional to make sure they get enough B vitamins since they’re at the greatest risk for coming up short on B vitamins. Foods especially high in folate include spinach and leafy greens, asparagus, citrus fruits, melon and beans.
When taking a vitamin B complex supplement or a multivitamin containing folate, be wary of synthetic folic acid. Instead, stick to fermented folic acid, which is metabolized by the body similarly to naturally occurring folate.
High-quality multivitamins for women will also often feature optimal amounts of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, which can help support healthy energy levels.
If you’re looking for a high-quality multivitamin, consider choosing a fermented option, as this form of “predigestion” helps make the nutrients bioavailable and absorbable for your digestive system.
You can also try multivitamins that are packed with additional superfood ingredients like spirulina, camu camu, chia seeds, apple cider vinegar and ashwagandha, which also support digestive function and gut health in general.
It’s important to remember that even if you take all or some of the best supplements for women, this still can’t replace eating a healthy diet.
- What are the best vitamins for women? The best vitamins for women include vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins.
- In addition to the best vitamins for women, other nutrients that are important include iron, iodine, magnesium, omega-3 fish oil and calcium.
- While a well-rounded, whole foods diet is the No. 1 way to obtain essential nutrients, supplementing can help to fill in gaps in your diet and offer benefits like support for healthy immune system function, skin health, healthy energy levels, cardiovascular support, and more.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.