You may be experiencing symptoms and not even realize they are attributed to vitamin deficiencies. Symptoms, like feeling cold all the time or fatigued, could be a result of your diet or what you don't eat. If you're not eating a well balanced diet and not getting enough vitamins from the foods you're eating, it's important to take vitamin supplements to make up for those deficiencies. Women in America often miss out on extremely common vitamins. Here are the most common vitamins you're probably not getting enough of.
Women aged 20-39 are more likely to have an iodine deficiency than women of other ages. We need around 150 micrograms of iodine everyday. When your body doesn't have enough iodine it can have trouble making enough thyroid hormones. Your thyroid hormones help control metabolism, body temperature, and more. A lack of iodine in pregnant women can also cause intellectual disabilities in the fetus. That's why most prenatal vitamins contain iodine.
Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
Not getting enough iodine can cause hyperthyroidism, which is swelling of the thyroid and surrounding throat area. This causes your thyroid to enlarge because it is working much harder to make up for the deficiency. Some other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold all the time, and thinning hair.
Sources of Iodine
Many salt companies add iodine to their salts, but not always. Because many women have also tried to reduce their salt intake, they're missing out on that source of iodine. We're not recommending that you start adding salt to all your meals to increase your iodine, however you can add other healthier sources of iodine to your daily diet like 1 cup of low-fat, plain yogurt (75 mcg), 1 cup of reduced-fat milk (56 mcg), or 1 large egg (24 mcg). Dairy products, as well as, seafood and grain-containing products are also good sources of iodine.
*If you're on the Smart for Life Program or another reduced-calorie weight loss program, we recommend taking a multivitamin!
A lot of people think they get enough vitamin D from sunlight but that isn't always true. Many people also lack vitamin D because it doesn't occur naturally in a lot of foods. Vitamin D is necessary for many body processes as well as maintaining a healthy immune system and bones. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends that women up to 70 years old need 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. Women over 70 years old need 800 IUs and sometimes even more depending on your blood levels.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to increased risk of poor bone health, depression in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, rickets for pregnant women, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Sources of Vitamin D
The most obvious way of getting vitamin D is with sunlight exposure. Typically you should spend 15-30 minutes a day in the sun. The amount of time you should spend in the sun varies on skin color, time of day, time of year, and pollution. Always wear sunscreen when going out in the sun to help protect your skin. Too much sun exposure can increase your risk of sunburn and skin cancer.
Many breakfast cereal and bread manufacturers add vitamin D to their foods too. You can also get a good source from 3 ounces of sockeye salmon (447 IUs), 1 cup of fortified orange juice (137 IUs), 1 cup of fortified milk (155-124 IUs), or 1 large egg yolk (41 IUs).
As kids, we were always told to drink a lot of milk for strong bones. The marketing campaign "Got Milk?" also targeted many children and young adults by using celebrity endorsements. It's surprising to hear that many adults these days lack calcium. When women age, their risk of osteoporosis increases. Calcium and vitamin D actually can work together to promote strong bone health.
Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency
Unfortunately, many people don't know that they are deficient in calcium until it's too late. Women usually find out when they fracture a bone or experience significant bone loss.
Sources of Calcium
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women 50 and under get 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Women 51 years and older need 1,200 mg per day. It's not recommend that you take a lot of calcium supplements because extra high levels of calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones and heart disease. Good, natural sources of calcium include low-fat yogurt, cheddar cheese, fortified orange juice, and fresh cooked kale. Although many people's first thought when they hear calcium is dairy, many leafy greens also contain this mineral.
Women are actually more susceptible to iron deficiency than men because we menstruate. Our bodies need to make up for that blood loss with more iron. Pregnant women especially need to make sure they're getting enough iron because the amount of blood they require increases to support the growing baby.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Not getting enough iron can lead to anemia which causes other symptoms like extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, weak nails, and swollen tongue.
Sources of Iron
Women 19 years old to 50 years old need around 18 mg per day. Men of the same age need only 8 mg of iron per day. Pregnant women will need 27 mg each day while woman 51 and older need less than 8 mg. Great sources of iron include fortified breakfast cereal, canned white beans, spinach, and canned kidney beans.
What you eat can also affect how well you absorb iron. Eating iron-containing foods with vitamin C-containing foods increases your body's absorption of iron. Examples of vitamin C containing foods include orange juice and citrus fruits. On the contrary, if you eat iron-containing foods with sources of calcium you will decrease your iron absorption.