Listen up ladies–if you’re in your 20s, you need these nutrients...

For all those 20 somethings out there, you probably know that there are a lot of changes that happen throughout this period of your life.

From finishing school and beginning your career, to commencing new relationships and starting a family, there’s no denying that there is a lot going on.

And while people always say your teens are the peak period of growth and development, turns out there’s a fair bit still going on physiologically in your 20s.

Most people don’t know this. But the brain (specifically the prefrontal cortex, the menstrual cycle, the bones, the skin) and the genitals are all still developing and changing.

To accommodate and support all these changes, you need nutrients.

Now, now, we know life gets busy and eating a nutritionally balanced diet can sometimes be a challenge.

However, if you’re interested in reaching your full potential, there are a few nutrients that are key.

Key Point: In an ideal world, we'd get all vitamins and minerals naturally through our diet. Consider a top rated Multivitamin for Women for when that's difficult to achieve.

Get on Board With the B Vitamins

B12 is one of the best vitamins for women in their 20s

If there’s one group of vitamins that are the basis of energy, the Bs are it.

When we’re constantly on-the-go, the B vitamins are the right-hand man to a variety of enzymes that metabolize food to supply the body with energy and nutrients.

But it’s not just this.

Three Bs specifically—B6, B9, and B12—are also critical because they help to: 

  • Maintain normal homocysteine levels.
  • Support proper immune, nervous, and brain function.
  • Aid in red blood cell formation.

Also, whether you’re trying for kids or are looking to conceive in the next few years, B vitamins are also key for pregnancy. Biotin is even known to promote hair health.

Folate, also known as B9, specifically, is a must. It is an essential nutrient for women trying to conceive due to its role in DNA replication, brain development, and preventing neural tube defects in the fetus [8].

Where can Women in their 20s get B Vitamins?

You typically take a B complex in the form of a supplement (found in the best Women's multivitamin with biotin). But B vitamins are widely available in both plant and animal foods too.

B6 is found in: 

  • Animal proteins (fish, poultry, pork, beef)
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Pistachios.

B9, or folate, is naturally found in: 

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Beans and legumes
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Organ meats

B12 is concentrated in animal proteins, specifically seafood and red meat.

Get Your Fair Share of Sun with Vitamin D

Vitamin D for women in their 20s

Whether you’re 15, 27, or 55, vitamin D is non-negotiable.

Nearly every cell in the body contains a receptor for vitamin D and it has more than 1000 target genes [1], which gives you some indication of its importance.

One of the most well-known functions of vitamin D is its role in regulating calcium absorption from the intestine.

Without sufficient vitamin D, parathyroid hormone (PTH) mobilizes bone calcium and increases reabsorption of calcium from the kidneys [2].

Vitamin D also helps to promote mineralization of the collagen matrix in bone, thereby increasing bone strength [3].

But vitamin D is needed for more than just calcium homeostasis. It’s also critical for:

  • Pregnancy health, as it prevents high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy complications [4]
  • Immune health, because of its role in the innate immune system [3]
  • Mood, for its role in regulating release of certain neurotransmitters like glutamine, noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin [5]
  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases like dementia, depression, diabetes mellitus, autism, and schizophrenia

Where can Women in their 20s get Vitamin D?

Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D.

15-30 minutes of full sun exposure with minimal clothing and no sunblock is your best bet.

But when the sun just isn’t around, animal foods are another option. Here are some concentrated sources of vitamin D:

  • Organ meats
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • Egg yolks
  • Full fat dairy 

Don't Fear Fats such as Omega-3

Omega 3 as a vitamin for women in their 20s

Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are essential for women.

Not only because the body cannot produce polyunsaturated fat endogenously (from within). But also because they’re essential for various bodily functions.

First and foremost, omega-3s are critical for heart health; they help to improve triglyceride levels and boost HDL (good cholesterol) [6], which, in your 20s, may not be something you’re concerned about, but it’s always good to take preventative steps.

As well, DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and is key to proper cognitive function and memory.

And ladies, if you’re sick and tired of the cramps and pain that come along with your period, the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s make them a lifesaver at that time of the month.

Key Point: Research shows that fish oils can be just as effective, if not more, than ibuprofen at relieving pain associated with menstruation [7].

Where can Women in their 20s get Omega 3?

Wild-caught cold-water fatty fish are your best sources of EPA and DHA: 

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines

They’re also found in nuts and seeds, such as: 

  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Walnuts.

However, in nuts and seeds they come in the form of ALA; ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA, but the conversion process is highly inefficient.

As a result, your best way of obtaining Omega 3 naturally through your diet is through fatty fish. Of course, you can also supplement with a high quality Omega 3 product too, if you wish. 

Bump up the Iron, Ladies

Iron for women in their 20s

Iron isn’t often a supplement you hear about unless you’re diagnosed anemic, but it’s something that women should take.

Whether it’s through diet or supplemental (if diagnosed low iron), it’s critical for menstruating women.

For every day of menstrual bleeding, women lose about 1mg of iron, and that iron needs to be replenished.

But for women who experience abnormally heavy bleeding—a condition called menorrhagia—iron supplementation becomes even more critical [9].

Where can Women in their 20s get Iron?

Not a fan of popping pills? Don’t sweat it!

Red meat is one of the best sources of heme-iron (the most bioavailable kind).

But these are also great sources of iron:

  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Fish

If you’re not a carnivore, here are some great iron sources for vegetarians/vegans:

  • dark leafy greens
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans and legumes

*In these vegetarian/vegan sources, iron comes in the form of non-heme iron and is generally not as well absorbed as heme found in meats.

If You're a Woman in Your 20s, Get The Best Vitamins You Need

When it comes to nutrition, like everything else in life, nothing is ever going to be perfect.

But the fact of the matter is, as long as your nutrition is balanced and you’re taking in a variety of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats from whole, unprocessed sources, you’re probably getting the majority of the nutrients you need.

However, in times where you might not be getting enough, supplementing these four nutrients is always a great way to ensure you’re meeting your targets via high-quality multivitamin supplements.

References

  1. Sirajudeen, S., Shah, I. and Al Menhali, A. (2019). A Narrative Role of Vitamin D and Its Receptor: With Current Evidence on the Gastric Tissues. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online][online][online][online][online][online][online]