What Nutrients Are Women Most Likely to Lack?

What nutrients are women most likely to lack and why?

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

A family physician, Dr. Tanya Edwards is passionate about using nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness.  She... Read more

We are all (men and women) likely to be deficient in omega-3s, vitamin D and magnesium. We just don’t eat enough fish, which is the best source of long-chain omega-3s. The reason we’re D-deficient: In the last century, we’ve come indoors as a society. And in the past 30 years, we’ve been doing a great job of keeping on sunscreen. Sun exposure, specifically UVB rays, plays a big role in helping the body manufacture vitamin D. Meanwhile, a lot of us don’t eat enough magnesium-rich foods, such as amaranth, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. In fact, it’s been estimated that 75 to 85 percent of American diets don’t get nearly the recommended daily allowance of magnesium (400 milligrams per day).

To make sure you’re covered, I recommend a daily multiple vitamin/mineral supplement; 1,000 to 2,000 mg of fish oil per day (choose “triple strength,” which means it’s more concentrated); and getting extra magnesium (500 milligrams at bedtime — bonus: it will really help with sleep!). As far as vitamin D goes, I suggest having your blood tested to see what your level is. Depending on the result, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin D (3) supplement to take to maintain a year-round level between 50 to 80 ng/ml.

For menstruating women, iron is often lacking and should be included in your multivitamin. You should also have your blood count checked if your periods are heavy, in case you need more than the 18 milligrams (the recommended daily allowance) found in most vitamins. For men and non-menstruating women, you don’t need extra iron (check that your multi doesn’t have iron). Adding iron in these instances can actually lead to more free-radical formation in your body, which will accelerate inflammation (a trigger for many conditions, including heart disease).