What Vitamins & Minerals Does Women Need

Women can benefit from certain amounts of certain nutrients at certain stages of their lives. This article considers some of the vitamins and minerals that a woman needs at different stages of life.

In the United States, the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) provides nutrition advice. They set the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and adequate amount (AI) for various nutrients.

FNB prescribes RDA for a specific vitamin when there is ample scientific evidence that a specific daily diet is beneficial. This is when the vitamin meets the nutritional needs of 97-98% of healthy people in a particular group.

If the FNB does not have sufficient scientific evidence to establish an RDA, they usually recommend AI instead.

The tables below, which use information from the FNB and the Office for Dietary Supplements (ODS), list RDAs for certain vitamins and minerals for women of all ages. AIs contain a star (*), and the amount of vitamins is in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg).

This table shows the needs of women aged 9-50:

9–13 years14–18 years19–30 years31–50 years
Vitamin A (mcg)600700700700
Vitamin C (mg)45657575
Vitamin E (mg)11151515
Vitamin D (mcg)15151515
Vitamin K (mcg)60*75*90*90*
Thiamin (mg)0.911.11.1
Riboflavin (mg)0.911.11.1
Niacin (mg)12141414
Vitamin B6 (mg)
Folate (mcg)300400400400
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
Biotin (mcg)20*25*30*30*
Choline (mg)375*400*425*425*
Calcium (mg)1,3001,3001,0001,000
Iron (mg)8151818
Iodine (mcg)120150150150

The table below shows the requirements for women aged 51 years and older, those who are pregnant, and those who are breastfeeding:

51–70 years70 years or aboveDuring pregnancyWhile breastfeeding
Vitamin A (mcg)700700750–7701,200–1,300
Vitamin C (mg)757585115–120
Vitamin E (mg)15151519
Vitamin D (mcg)15201515
Vitamin K (mcg)90*90*75–90*75–90*
Thiamin (mg)
Riboflavin (mg)
Niacin (mg)14141817
Vitamin B6 (mg)
Folate (mcg)400400600500
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
Biotin (mcg)30*30*30*35*
Choline (mg)425*425*450*550*
Calcium (mg)1,2001,2001,000–1,3001,000–1,300
Iron (mg)88279–10
Iodine (mcg)150150220290

The Reproductive Years

The years of childbearing are from puberty to menopause. Menstruation and hormonal factors can affect a person’s nutritional needs at this time.

Vitamin B6 and Vitamin D

In 2017, a group of scientists published a study focusing on data from more than 15,000 people. Their results showed that, overall, women aged 19-50 and those who were breastfeeding or pregnant were more likely to be malnourished than other groups. It contained low levels of vitamin B6 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin D.

Women aged 19-50 need 15 mg of vitamin D daily.

Vitamin B6 requirements are 1.3 mg per day for people aged 19-50, 1.9 mg per day during pregnancy, and 2 mg per day during lactation.


Iodine is essential for the healthy development of the fetal brain during pregnancy.

According to a 2012 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iodine levels in women aged 20-39 were lower than in any other group.

This age group has the highest chances of getting pregnant. The RDA of iodine for this group is 150 mcg, increasing to 220 mg during pregnancy and 290 mg during lactation.

However, people should not take iodine supplements unless their doctor recommends them. Unnecessary iron supplements can have a negative effect on thyroid health. Anyone who is concerned about their iodine levels should consult their healthcare provider.

Folate (vitamin B9)

Folate, also called vitamin B9, is essential during the reproductive years. It reduces the risk of fetal complications, especially those involving the spinal cord and brain, helps make red blood cells, and aids in protein digestion.

People often use the terms folate and folic acid together, but there is a difference.

According to the CDC, folic acid is a general term for vitamin B9, which comes in a variety of forms. It is found naturally in foods such as beans, leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits.


Many women experience iron deficiency during their reproductive years. Iron is a mineral that is essential for reproductive organs and functions.

It is also important to:

  • energy production
  • wound healing
  • immune function
  • red blood cell formation
  • growth and development

The RDA for iron for women aged 19–50 years is 18 mg. It is 27 mg during pregnancy and 9 mg while breastfeeding.

Over 70 Years

Vitamin D is essential for bone health and helps maintain muscle mass. As people age, they naturally begin to lose mass of bones and muscles. People over the age of 70 need more vitamin D than young people.

Sunlight exposure provides most of the vitamin D to a person, but is also available in the form of vitamin D supplements, in oily fish, grazed and free-ranging eggs, and some strong foods.

Foods to Eat

Some important nutrients for women and their good sources include:

  • Folate: Sources include spinach, rice, avocado, broccoli, oranges, asparagus, and strong breakfast cereals.
  • Iodine: Sources include seafood, seafood, eggs, cereal products, iodized salt, and unsweetened dairy products.
  • Vitamin D: Sources include fatty fish, fortified or grazed or free-ranging egg yolks, mushrooms and liver.
  • Iron: Sources include red meat, seafood, poultry, spinach, lentils and soybeans.
  • Calcium: Sources include dairy products, strong milk substitutes and juices, sardines, salmon, tofu and bananas.
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