Do you ever encounter the following symptoms: fragile nails and hair, chapping in the side of your mouth, and bleeding gums? Or, what about constantly feeling cold or tired?
If you notice all of these signs happening in your body, chances are you have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Women, in particular, have the tendency to develop these types of deficiencies.
While supplements are now readily available in the market, please note that keeping a balanced nutrition is still essential. This article will highlight the seven types of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in women to help you learn about this troubling health issue.
1. Vitamin D Deficiency
One of the vitamins commonly lacking in women is Vitamin D. There are times you’ll feel you get enough sunlight. However, most people usually miss out on this particular vitamin. Pregnant women, soon to become pregnant, and older women specifically need this vitamin to enhance their immune system and bone health.
In fact, women 70 years old and below require 600 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D per day. This figure increases to 800 IUs for women above 70 years old. However, to determine the exact dose your body requires, you must consult your doctor so they can test your blood levels.
Getting adequate Vitamin D can be quite a challenge when you rely on food alone. Thus, medical experts often advise women to get out more in the sun or add supplements to their regimen. Although you need to be careful with prolonged sun exposure as it heightens the risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Some of the excellent sources of Vitamin D are:
- Oily fish (e.g., trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines)
- Cod liver oil
- Egg yolks
Some food manufacturers also add the nutrient to everyday products such as slices of bread and breakfast cereals. If you want to check out where you can avail women’s supplements, click here.
2. Calcium Deficiency
Surprisingly, a lot of women experience calcium deficiency, even when schools usually emphasize how vital the nutrient is for the body. Calcium is significant to bone health, especially since women are prone to osteoporosis when they get older. It works jointly with Vitamin D in building healthy and solid bones.
Unfortunately, women typically find out about their deficiency when they encounter severe bone loss or fracture. Hence, to avoid this common problem, it’s best to follow the daily calcium intake recommendation. If your age is 50 years old and below, your body requires 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Meanwhile, women who are 51 years old and above will need 1200 mg of calcium per day.
Remember to stick within the expert’s daily recommendation because excessive intake of this nutrient increases the probability of heart disease and kidney stones. Some people who lack calcium in their regimen take supplements to compensate for their deficiency. However, note that experts are still in debate for the safety of these supplements for the past few years.
Therefore, it’s best to obtain calcium from your food. Below are a few excellent sources of this vitamin:
- Dairy products
- Boned fish
- Green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, spinach, bok choy, kale)
3. Folate Deficiency
Another vitamin essential to women is Folate. This particular nutrient is also known as Folic acid or vitamin B-9. Folate is crucial for the production of red blood cells, DNA creation, and prevention of anemia.
If you’re preparing for pregnancy, it’s integral to retain sufficient folate levels a year before giving birth. This fact is one of the factors why doctors recommend women planning to get pregnant to begin drinking prenatal vitamins, so they have high folate levels before they conceive. When you have the right amount of folate in your body, it can help you prevent infant abnormalities such as spina bifida.
So, what are the signs of folate deficiency? Some of the symptoms include:
- Mouth blisters
- Tongue swelling
- Growth issues
On the one hand, folate deficiency that induces anemia will have discernible signs such as the ones listed below:
- Pallid skin
- Chronic fatigue
And to ensure you include folate in your diet, add the following nutritious items in your meals:
- Brussel sprouts
- Green peas
4. Iron Deficiency
Because women lose blood monthly due to menstruation, they’re vulnerable to iron deficiency. Their bodies need to compensate for the loss, so it’s vital they include iron in their daily regimen. Most significantly, pregnant women are susceptible to low iron since they’re growing a baby inside their bodies.
Like folate, iron deficiency can lead to anemia. Some symptoms you’ll notice are:
- Shortness of breath
- Fragile nails
- Swollen tongue
To prevent this nutrient deficiency, women between 19 and 50 years old require 18 mg of iron daily. On the one hand, pregnant women will need 27 mg of iron, while those who are 51 years old and above will require 8mg.
Additionally, you can include the following items in your meal to increase your iron intake:
- Kidney beans
- Shellfish (e.g., oysters, mussels, clams)
- Organ meat (e.g., liver)
- Red meat
- Seeds (e.g., sesame, squash, pumpkin)
- Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, broccoli, kale)
Please take note also that what you consume impacts how your body soaks up iron. When you eat iron-rich foods and products high in calcium, it will reduce iron absorption. However, consuming iron-rich foods combined with vitamin C-containing fruits like oranges will boost your capacity to absorb iron.
Don’t forget, though, to consult your doctor first before taking iron supplements because excessive iron can be dangerous for your health.
5. Iodine Deficiency
Insufficient iodine in women’s bodies leads to the lack thyroid hormones to regulate body temperature and metabolism. This is why so many doctors include iodine in many prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women are more susceptible to iodine deficiency, which may lead to intellectual disabilities in their babies.
Moreover, a regimen lacking in iodine can result in goiter or hypothyroidism. People who suffer from this medical condition exhibit swelling of their thyroid in the throat area. Their thyroid works overtime to compensate for the lack of iodine, consequently enlarging it. Aside from the node, other symptoms of the condition are:
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Muscle weakness
- Thinning hair
- Irregular menstrual period
Keep in mind that while food manufacturers blend iodine into salt, it’s not always the case. Moreover, with lots of women reducing their salt intake nowadays, it’s one possible way for them to lose their nutrient source.
However, remember salt isn’t the only source of iodine. Other excellent sources of this nutrient are:
- Dairy products (e.g., cheese, milk)
- White bread
- Seafood (e.g., cod, tuna, seaweed, shrimp)
6. Magnesium Deficiency
Some people may experience fatigue, restless leg syndrome, muscle cramps, migraines, and irregular heart rhythm when they have magnesium deficiency. This deficiency is often a result of inadequate nutrient intake, drug use, or a disease.
Magnesium is a vital mineral in the body since it assists in teeth and bone structure. Some medical conditions linked to magnesium deficiency include heart disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.
To add magnesium to your regimen, include some of the items below in your diet:
- Nuts (e.g., cashews, brazil nuts, almonds)
- Leafy vegetables (e.g., turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, kale)
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Legumes (e.g., beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, soybeans)
- Seeds (e.g., chia, flax, pumpkin)
- Whole grains (e.g., quinoa, oats, barley, buckwheat)
- Oily fish (e.g., halibut, salmon, mackerel)
7. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Lastly, one of the common nutrients that women lack is vitamin B12. This nutrient is essential for boosting healthy digestion, neurological activity, and the creation of blood cells. With weight loss diets becoming popular today, many women aren’t receiving sufficient vitamin B12 in their bodies.
The deficiency is prominent, especially in older females; however, various women suffer from it. Some of the vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include:
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Swollen tongue
- Muscle problems
- Numbness or prickling in feet, legs, or hands
To prevent this condition, it’s best for women 14 years old and above to take in 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 daily. For pregnant women, it’s advisable to drink 2.6 mcg. Medical experts likewise recommend adding the following vitamin B12 sources in their meal:
- Dairy products
- Shellfish (e.g., oysters, clams)
- Organ meat (e.g., liver)
Furthermore, numerous animal products contain this nutrient. That is why vegetarian women are more likely to suffer from this deficiency.
An inadequate diet lacking vitamins and minerals can lead to numerous deficiencies. Following a healthy and balanced diet is an excellent way to combat this problem. Some may take supplements to help address this condition. However, remember that managing your food intake is still the best way to deal with any decencies.
Most young, old, and vegetarian women are susceptible to many of the above deficiencies. In case you experience any of the above symptoms, request your doctor for a blood examination. This way your doctor will be able to determine if you’re experiencing any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Also, when purchasing supplements don’t forget to buy only from credible sources.