What Women Really Need to Know About Vitamins

Much of what you know -- or think you know -- about dietary supplements could be wrong.

The May issue of Women's Health magazine says that while Food and Drug Administration daily value recommendations for vitamins haven't changed since 1968, what we know about nutrition has.

The Institute of Medicine has new recommendations for vitamins, called dietary reference intakes.

Lisa Drayer, nutrition adviser and contributing editor to Women's Health, recommended specific supplements that take into account these latest numbers.

For more information visit Women's Health.

  • It has been 39 years since the FDA updated its vitamin recommendations and, according to a report in Women's Health magazine, nutrition has changed. Read on to determine if you're getting the correct nutrients.

Take a multivitamin daily

Women's Health recommends One-a-Day Women's, which comes closest to current DRIs.

For example, Women's One a Day offers only 50 percent of the daily value of Vitamin A, with 20 percent as beta carotene which is a safer alternative. Even small excesses of Vitamin A have been linked to an increased risk of birth defects, liver problems and nervous system disorders, as well as long-term bone damage that can eventually lead to hip fractures.

On the other hand, for Vitamin D the daily value is 400 ius, but current research says women need 800 to 1000.

The four nutrients women need more of are calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium and Vitamin K.

For extra calcium, try Nature Made Calcium with Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. But take this supplement at a different time than when you take a multivitamin, because your body can't absorb over 500 mgs of calcium at a time.

For extra magnesium, try Nature's Bounty Magnesium. Magnesium can protect against heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. New DRIs say we should get 320 mgs a day.

For extra Vitamin K, try Puritan's Pride All Natural Vitamin K. Vitamin K is really important for bone health. Women's Health recommends a supplement of 100 micrograms called Puritan's Pride, which you can only get through the mail. Vitamin K can interfere with a blood thinner called coumadin, so talk to your doctor if you take that medication before taking vitamins.

For pregnant women and athletes, try Country Life Vitamin B12 and Floradix Iron and Herbs Extract. You need more iron if you exercise more than an hour a day or if you're pregnant. Iron helps hemoglobin deliver oxygen at greater volumes.

Vegetarians and vegans should look for supplements with B12 and iron. If you're vegan you need those plus Vitamin A. Women's Health recommends drinking carrot juice to get extra Vitamin A.

Women who are breast feeding should take 5 mgs of zinc a day.