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Essential Vitamins for Women

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It’s no secret that your body goes through some major changes as you get older. The vitamins you need are no exception.

These essential nutrients play a role in all the basic jobs your body does every day, each one taking care of specific tasks. And the ones a pregnant woman needs are different than the ones women need after menopause and beyond. But no matter your age, not getting enough key vitamins can put you at risk for serious health problems.

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The best way to get the right nutrients is to focus on making your diet healthy. But supplements can be a good way to fill in the gaps when they happen. Work with your doctor, nurse, or a registered dietitian to see which vitamins you need to feel your best.

Antioxidants

This group includes vitamin A -- retinol and carotenoids -- vitamin C, and vitamin E. They appear to play a role in protecting you from tiny particles your body makes, called free radicals, that can tear cells apart. Antioxidants may lower the risk of some health problems and slow aging. Some researchers also think they might help boost the immune system.

Antioxidants include:

Beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps eyesight, soft tissue, and skin. Find it in apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, guava, kale, papaya, peaches, pumpkins, red peppers, spinach, and tomatoes.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, heals wounds and helps your body make red blood cells. It also boosts levels of the brain chemical noradrenaline, which makes you feel more alert and amps your concentration. Studies show that when the body is under great stress, or as you get older, levels of ascorbic acid go down. You can get vitamin C from broccoli, grapefruit and its juice, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Vitamin E is also known as tocopherol. Your body needs it keep cells healthy. It may slow signs of aging, too. But taking too much of it every day increases your risk of bleeding. Foods with vitamin Einclude margarine, corn oil, cod-liver oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.

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