Physically and genetically, women’s bodies are vastly different than those of men. Conditions that afflict women only, such as menstruation and pregnancy, vary their nutrition and supplement needs. Vitamin dosage guidelines for women depend largely upon where they are in the cycle of life. Do not start any supplements without first talking to a health care provider, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding.
This micronutrient is essential in supporting eye, skin and immune health. Women should take 70 mcg daily, or 2,310 international units, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Night blindness and hampered immunity can afflict those women on very strict diets, as those diets can result in a vitamin A deficiency, as can alcoholism.
Naturally occurring in dark leafy plants and animal meats, B vitamins are essential to women’s health, especially during pregnancy and lactation. The Linus Pauling Institute cites studies aimed at correlating the link between vitamin B12 deficiency and breast cancer. Women should take 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 daily. Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin vital to the health of developing babies in utero. The ODS advises most women to take 400 mcg daily; women who are pregnant should take 600 mcg.
Eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus and bell peppers, provides women with potent antioxidants and iron modulation. The Harvard School of Public Health advises women to take 75 mg daily for nonsmokers, and an additional 35 mg daily for smokers. Vital during menstruation, vitamin C helps the body use any iron that is ingested to assist in replacing lost blood.
Vitamin D supplements help the body utilize calcium and are invaluable to aging women in the fight against osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease characterized by low calcium bone density. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that women get 400 to 600 international units of vitamin D daily, some of which can be synthesized with sunlight exposure. The AHA cites a recent study done by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, which found that inadequate vitamin D intake in young women can triple their risk of high blood pressure later in life.
This fat-soluble vitamin can be tricky to take, as it is supplied in many different measurements, including mg, mcg and international units. An antioxidant, vitamin E promotes immune, skin and cardiovascular health. Evidence suggests that vitamin E may decrease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as cramping and headaches at doses of 400 IU or 15 mg daily, per Medline Plus.