Women come in various shapes and sizes, but as individual vitamin and mineral requirements would be much too complicated to assess, each woman has to use Dietary Reference Intakes -- DRIs -- or Adequate Intakes -- AIs -- like those recommended by the Institute of Medicine to assess her required intake. Your age influences your needs, but for the most part your fitness level does not. According to the Optimal Dietary Guide by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, athletes don't need to take any more supplements than nonathletes do.
Some vitamins dissolve in fat and so can be stored for long periods. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble. The problem with fat-soluble vitamins is that excessive intake can potentially be toxic because they are not excreted as easily as other vitamins. On the other hand, a benefit of fat-soluble vitamins is that they don't have to be ingested as often as other vitamins. The IOM recommend women over the age of 18 get 15 millligrams per day of vitamin E, 700 micrograms per day of vitamin A and 90 micrograms of vitamin K daily. Fifteen micrograms daily of vitamin D is sufficient for most adult women.
Vitamins that can't be stored in fat tend to be more transient in the body, and if more is taken in than necessary, they tend to be excreted easily in the urine. Of the B vitamins, says the IOM, 2.4 micrograms per day of B-12 is sufficient for all women, whereas women under 30 should get 1.3 milligrams of B-6, and those over 30, 1.5 milligrams. Vitamin C recommendations are 75 micrograms per day, riboflavin and thiamine 1.1 milligrams per day each, niacin 14 milligrams per day and folate 400 milligrams per day. Five milligrams per day of panthothenic acid, 30 micrograms per day of biotin and 425 milligrams per day of choline are also recommended.
Minerals are elemental molecules, such as metals, that are necessary for health. According to the IOM, adult women need 900 micrograms per day of copper, 1.8 milligrams per day of manganese and 45 micrograms per day of molybdenum. Zinc requirements are 8 milligrams per day, phosphorus 700 micrograms per day and selenium 55 micrograms per day. A daily intake of 25 micrograms of chromium is sufficient, and 150 micrograms of iodine also meets needs. Menstruating women need 18 milligrams per day of iron.
Calcium is a special case when it comes to minerals, as it needs to be taken in large quantities. This is because a large part of the body, the bones, are made of calcium. From age 18 to 50, the IOM says, women need 1,000 milligrams per day. A whopping 4.7 grams per day of potassium is also required. Salt is also necessary for health, and broken down into its two constituents, sodium and chloride, only 1.5 grams and 2 grams of each respectively are enough for women under 50.
Jillian O'Keeffe has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work appears in regional Irish newspapers including "The Connacht Tribune" and the "Sentinel." O'Keeffe has a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from University College Cork.