Nutrient needs differ throughout a woman’s life

June 14, 2024

#Women’s vitamins#Women’s vitamins#Women’s vitamins#Women’s vitamins#Women’s vitamins

A woman’s nutrient needs change throughout her lifetime. Deficiencies are more common during certain life stages, such as pregnancy, and under certain circumstances, such as when a woman smokes or drinks excessively or has a medical condition. For this reason, women may need to supplement with one or more nutrients in order to reach the recommended intake levels.

 Children and teens

Girls ages 9–13 generally need smaller amounts of vitamins than older teens and women because of their smaller body sizes. However, teens over age 14 have vitamin and mineral needs similar to those of adults.

 Research shows that teenage girls are more likely to become deficient in some nutrients than the general population. For example, teenage girls are at a greater risk of developing deficiencies in vitamin D and folate.

Research has shown that many teens consume diets low in vitamins and minerals. This puts them at risk of deficiency, including during pregnancy, a time during which most nutrient needs increase.


Women ages 19–50

Women ages 19–50 are more likely to be deficient in several nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, and B6.

 A study that included data on more than 15,000 people found that nutrient deficiency risk, including deficiencies in B6 and vitamin D, was most common in women in this age range.

 Pregnant and breastfeeding women

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, nutrient needs increase to support fetal and maternal health.

 For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women are at a greater risk of developing vitamin deficiencies.

 In fact, up to 30% of pregnant women worldwide experience vitamin deficiencies. For example, researchers estimate that 18–84% of pregnant women worldwide are deficient in vitamin D.

 What’s more, evidence suggests that the current recommendations for certain vitamins, including vitamin D, for pregnant women are too low.

 According to recent research, pregnant women may need about 4,000 IU per day to maintain optimal vitamin D levels, while breastfeeding women may need about 6,400 IU per day.

 Choline is another important nutrient for fetal and maternal health. Studies show that most pregnant women in the United States aren’t getting the recommended 450 mg per day of choline. Unfortunately, many prenatal vitamins do not contain choline.

Older women

Postmenopausal women are more likely to become deficient in certain nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C, D, B6, and B12.

Older adults — typically defined as ages 60 and older — often have inadequate dietary intakes and take medications that may reduce vitamin levels in the body, increasing their risk of developing one or more vitamin deficiencies.