10 Nutrients Women Need

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For years, vitamins and other supplements were viewed as a "one size fits all." However, many recent studies have differentiated between men and women and have discovered supplements that are especially beneficial for women. Here are the top 10 nutrients for women:

Folic acid or folate

Folate, or synthetic folic acid, is a B vitamin that's especially important for women. Pregnant women whose diets do not include sufficient levels of folic acid are more likely to have babies with certain types of birth defects. Women beyond the childbearing years also need adequate folic acid. It plays an important role in the creation of new cells and in the health of DNA. It also decreases levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to stroke, heart attack and dementia.

Some studies suggest that folic acid can prevent some types of cancer and can stabilize mood swings associated with menopause and perimenopause. Women need at least 400 micrograms per day of this nutrient. Folate occurs naturally in nuts, legumes, spinach, kale and other dark, leafy greens. Folic acid is found in enriched breads, pastas and grains, and is also usually in multivitamins. Some medications, including contraceptives, antacids and diabetes medications, can inhibit absorption of folic acid, so women on any of these might need extra amounts of the nutrient.