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Essential Vitamins for Women at Every Age


How do antioxidant vitamins boost health? continued...

Food sources of beta-carotene include apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, guava, kale, papaya, peach, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, aids in wound healing and plays a role in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin C also boosts levels of the brain chemical noradrenaline. Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter. It boosts alertness and increases concentration. Studies show that when the body is under great stress, or during the aging process, levels of ascorbic acid decline.

Food sources of vitamin C include broccoli, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, kiwi, oranges, pepper, potato, strawberries, and tomatoes. 

Vitamin E is also known as tocopherol. It plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of cell membranes. Vitamin E may slow age-related changes. Adults with intestinal disorders of malabsorption may be deficient in vitamin E. But taking too much vitamin E daily increases the risk of bleeding. 

Food sources of vitamin E include margarine, corn oil, cod-liver oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter, safflower oil, sunflower seeds, and wheat germ.

What are the recommendations for antioxidants?

Many adults have trouble getting enough antioxidants in their daily diet. You can make sure you get enough antioxidants for optimal health by eating at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. If your diet is low in fruit and vegetables, talk to your doctor or dietician about vitamin supplements.


Are the B vitamins important for women's health?

All B vitamins are important to a woman's health. However, three vitamins in particular -- vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid -- are especially important. These B vitamins are essential to brain function, red blood cell formation, and building DNA.

In addition, if you're pregnant, taking the B vitamin folic acid can significantly lower the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Poor eating habits, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, and oral contraceptives have all been linked to low blood levels of folic acid.

Except among alcoholics or other severely malnourished people, B vitamin deficiency is rare. When it does occur, B vitamin deficiency can cause irritability, depression, confusion. It can also cause tongue and mouth inflammation. Here's information about these important B vitamins: 

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. It's important for metabolism and also for brain function. Vitamin B6 deficiency can result in a form of anemia. Although some older adults have low levels of vitamin B6, true deficiency is rarely seen. Vitamin B6 is one of the few water-soluble vitamins that can be toxic if taken in large doses. So eating healthy foods with vitamin B6 is usually the best way to get it. 

Food sources of vitamin B6 include avocado, banana, beans, cereal, meats, oatmeal, poultry, seeds. 

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