We get dizzy in the vitamin aisle of the drugstore. Our health is our top priority but tell us: Do we women actually need to guzzle 50 vitamins a day to be healthy? Really now, how much is too much—or too little, for that matter? Is there a vitamin guide to help?

According to Dr. Christopher Calapai, aka the Stem Cell Guru, we should be choosy with our vitamin intake. Although in a perfect world, all of our nutrient needs would come from food, our diets don’t tend to be textbook perfect, that’s why we need more supplementation as we age. Which multivitamins should we take? Well, that depends.


the Vitamin Guide: What Women Should Take in their 30s, 40s and 50s


Recommended Dose: Take 1,000 mg daily

Why take it: These are the decades to bone up—as in, maintain your bone mass. If you don’t get enough calcium from your diet, you may need a supplement containing elemental calcium. Elemental calcium refers to the actual amount of calcium in a supplement that’s available for your body to absorb—the rest are compounds making up the supplement.

Insider Tip: Always read labels carefully. For example, if you buy tablets such as calcium carbonate, each tablet contains 1,250 mg of calcium but only 500 mg is elemental.


The Healthy Woman's Guide to Vitamins At Every AgeRecommended Dose: Take at least 2,000 IU per day year-round

Why take it: The reason we’re severely lacking vitamin D nowadays is that we’re missing out on the number one source of vitamin D: the sun. Vitamin D is a pro-hormone made in the skin upon exposure to sunlight, and production of it is rapid and robust. Within 10 to 20 minutes without sunscreen, people make between 10,000 and 20,000 IU. But because of widespread sunscreen use, total sun avoidance, and our increasingly indoor lifestyles, our vitamin D levels have taken a dive.

Insider Tip: Although you technically don’t need to supplement on the days that you know you’ll be outside when the sun is high, it’s just easier to take it every day than to try to remember when and not to.


Recommended Dose: Take 400 micrograms per day 

Why take it: For women in their childbearing years, folic acid is recommended if you’re planning on conceiving anytime soon. You should take it before you get pregnant to ensure your levels are high because low rates of folic acid can cause a number of birth defects.

Next page: How Much Iron is Recommended at Your Age?

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