Vitamins and minerals are essentials for both men and women’s overall health. We should also know that women and men differ as far as specific needs particularly in those aging or going through menopause. Vitamins and micronutrients are essential to our bodies in order to achieve proper cell function, growth, and development.
Ideally, the goal is to consume your essential vitamins through whole foods. However, there are many different types of diets for example some exclude meat while others exclude dairy. When we restrict our diets, we tend to become deficient in specific areas that are essential; thus, supplementation may be necessary.
Let's take a look at some of these essential vitamins you may, or may not, be familiar with as well as their functions and where they are found:
Vitamin A- This vitamin improves vision, skin, and skeletal tissues. Vitamin A is found in foods such as carrots and cantaloupe.
Vitamin B1- Also known as thiamin, vitamin B1, helps metabolize fats and produces energy. This vitamin can be found in lean meats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Vitamin B2- The vitamin known as riboflavin is an antioxidant that aids in protection from free radicals or immune support. Vitamin B2 is often found in dairy products as well as green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B3- Often referred to as niacin this vitamin reduces cardiovascular disease. Vitamin B3 is found in legumes, fish and poultry.
Vitamin B5- Commonly called pantothenic acid this vitamin aides in immune system health, hormone production, and produces energy. Vitamin B5 can be found in broccoli, mushrooms, and potatoes such as white or sweet potatoes.
Vitamin B6- Also known pyridoxine, vitamin B6, produces the protective layer around our cells known as the myelin. It is found in avocados, bananas, and nuts.
Vitamin B7- Often referred to as biotin it is a necessary vitamin for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Vitamin B7 can be found in pork products, nuts, and semi-sweetened chocolate.
Vitamin B9- Otherwise referred to as folate which is essential for our nervous system. The vitamin B9 is often found in beets, peanut butter, and lentils.
Vitamin B12- Usually referred as cobalamin, the vitamin B12, aids in healthy red blood and nerve cells. This vitamin is generally found in shellfish, eggs, and milk.
Vitamin C- Essential for growth and repair of our body tissues vitamin C is found in green vegetables, white and sweet potatoes, fruits, and tomatoes.
Vitamin D- A vitamin that allows calcium to absorb, provides healthy bones, and supports immune function. Aside from sun exposure, vitamin D is found in foods such as salmon, fortified milk, and other dairy products.
Vitamin E- Protects against free radicals and improves the immune system vitamin E can be found in mangos, asparagus, and vegetable oils.
Vitamin K: This vitamin aids in the blood to help with clotting, preventing bleeding, improving heart health, and building strong bones. An interesting fact about vitamin K is that our intestines produce about 75 percent of the vitamin K our body already needs, so it is up to you to consume that other 25 percent. Vitamin K is often found in kale, cauliflower, and beef.
Choline: Supports liver, nerve, and muscle functions the vitamin choline is commonly found in eggs, meats, and fish. Choline is also found in many vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale. These vegetables are also known as cruciferous vegetables. They are low in calorie as well as rich in vitamins and fiber (Longfellow and Gotter 2018).
Healthy individuals typically do not need vitamin supplementation but, again as I had mentioned above, there are many different diets out there as well as dietary intolerances. Personally, I believe that the best way to confirm if you are deficient would be to see your primary care physician (PCP) for a blood panel.
Aside from going to your PCP, there are specific individuals that are known to be at a higher risk of experiencing some type of vitamin deficiency such as those that are: pregnant, lactating, or breastfeeding mothers.
These women typically require a lot more vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid. Obviously, if you plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant this would be something you should discuss with your obstetrician.
Folic acid is crucial in early stages of pregnancy well before you even conceive, more specifically, to prevent birth defects. Another group of individuals that are at high risk would be strict vegans. Living a vegan lifestyle means to eliminate products such as dairy, eggs, fish, or meat.
Eliminating these types of foods and not finding alternatives can cause a deficiency in vitamin B12 and vitamin A. For these individuals, consuming a large variety of dark green leafy vegetables as well as fruits can aid in this risk but, again, getting routine blood work would be ideal.
Also believe it, or not, aging women are most commonly known to become deficient in vitamin D. As vitamin D can be harmful in large amounts likewise a vitamin D deficiency can also be linked to immune diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis (Longfellow and Gotter 2018).
There are specific, as well as vague, symptoms that can be correlated to a vitamin deficiency. For example, someone that experiments tingling in hands and feet could be related to a vitamin B deficiency. Depression, fatigue, chronic pain, and weakness can be linked to a vitamin D deficiency. Poor vision, skin conditions, and dry skin can be related to a vitamin D deficiency.
Again, along with the presenting symptoms, a blood panel from your PCP could properly diagnose a deficiency. This is important as there is such a thing as overdosing and consuming too much supplement for specific vitamins if they are not needed. Ideally, consuming all of your vitamins and minerals through your dietary consumption is priority (Longfellow and Gotter 2018).
Supplements do not replace the act of eating or consuming the proper variety of foods you should be eating for a healthy diet. Overall, foods will provide you with more nutrition than a supplement. The lack of consuming these foods also eliminates the amount of fiber you are consuming which as a result can alter your gut health.
An altered gut can also inhibit the way you digest, process, and absorb the foods that you are consuming; thus, this can still lead to a nutritional deficit. Overall, vitamin supplements are not harmful to most healthy individuals. However, it is important for you to read the labels and know exactly what you are taking as these vitamins vary from product to product as well as companies.
Specific individuals such as those planning to get pregnant, lactating, strict vegans, menopausal, postmenopausal, bleeding disorders, and anyone that has a history of smoking or currently are smoking should consult with their PCP. Overuse, or the lack of specific vitamins, within these at-risk individuals can lead to further medical complications (National Institute of Health 2018).
Women's and Men’s Multivitamins- Both Women’s Multi and Men’s Multi, by AMN, have an overall variety of micronutrients that create great multivitamins (American Made Nutrition 2020).
Omega 3- The Omega 3 supplement is a fish oil supplement. Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids which fatty acids are essential for brain support as well as heart health (American Made Nutrition 2020). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) we should be consuming one to two portions of fish per week.
Aside from brain and heart health, omega-3 supplements aid in weight loss support, eye health, reduce risk of mental deterioration, inflammation, skin, preparing for pregnancy, liver support, and depression (Robertson 2018).
Amino+ BCAAS & Natural Energy- The supplement of Amino+ BCAAS & Natural Energy aids in muscle endurance as well as recovery while containing a natural energy boost throughout your day.
This supplement contains five grams of amino acids, electrolyte blend, natural sweetener, vitamin B, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, potassium, magnesium, sodium, L-glutamine, L-citrulline malate, L- taurine, and a hydration formula. The natural sweetener used within this supplement is stevia (American Made Nutrition 2020).
Glutamine- Glutamine is an amino acid which, as we discussed previously in other blog posts, is a building block for proteins. Glutamine is found in foods that we eat such as eggs, beef, skim milk, tofu, white rice, and corn. Again, keep in mind, for those individuals that follow specific diets and do not consistently consume these products that they may be lacking in glutamine (Tinsley 2018).
AMN’s Glutamine supplement contains five grams of L-glutamine per scoop. If you desire, this supplement is unflavored making it easy to mix with other supplements, water, or coffee (American Made Nutrition 2020).
Beta Alanine- Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid. Your body uses beta-alanine to produce carnosine which is what aids in enhancing performance during exercising. The way it improves your performance is by reducing the amount of lactic acid that builds up in your muscles during higher intensity training sessions.
Carnosine is also known to act as an antioxidant, anti-aging, and immune support. The most common foods you can find beta-alanine are in meat, fish, and poultry (Semeco 2018). AMN’s Beta Alanine supplement contains two grams per scoop (American Made Nutrition 2020). The recommended dose ranges between two to five grams once a day (Semeco 2018).
American Made Nutrition. 2020. “Made in America, for the World.” American Made
Longfellow, M., and Gotter, A. 2018. “The Best Vitamins for Women.” Healthline Media,
September 17. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamins-for-women.
National Institute of Health. 2018. “Vitamins and Minerals.” National Center for Complementary
and Integrative Health, February. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/vitamins-and-
Robertson, R., PhD. 2018. “13 Benefits of Taking Fish Oil.” Healthline Media, December 18.
Semeco, A., MS., RD. 2018. “Beta-Alanine- A Beginners Guide.” Healthline Media, December 7.
Tinsley, G., PhD. 2018. “Glutamine: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects.” Healthline Media, January