What you eat today affects your health today and later – this is an undeniable fact. Scores of studies show that eating a nutritious diet bestows many benefits, such as better energy levels and decreased risk of degenerative diseases and conditions. While you could get all the vitamins and minerals from food, it may not be possible to choose nutrient-dense meals every time. There are many elements that play into this – stressful work environment, lack of time to eat fresh, home-cooked meals, travel, cultural factors, to mention a few. All of these contribute to what, when, and how we eat foods, thereby influencing the nutrient richness of the diet.
This scenario is especially relevant to women than men because of various factors. Besides lack of time to cook and poor knowledge of healthy eating it is far more complex among women. Studies find that women are more susceptible to poor eating habits due to their perception of body image (9). Poor body image is often linked to dieting, eliminating specific food groups, and even over-exercising, increasing the demand for nutrients in the body. As a result, many complain of chronic insomnia, fatigue, and hormonal imbalance. Luckily, most of these conditions are reversible with proper nutrition.
Ensuring that you include enough of the following nutrients can bring down the risk of ailments and keeps you healthy. Read on to find out what nutrients you must have in your daily menu.
B vitamins: B vitamins are essential for people of all age groups irrespective of their gender. B vitamins like biotin, vitamin B12, and folate are critical for women because they are crucial for supporting metabolism, energy levels and fight fatigue. These B vitamins work to promote the production of red blood cells and help convert the food you eat into energy. Women of child-bearing age and vegans must ensure that they get enough B vitamins in their diet. If you are considering B vitamin supplements, it is crucial to find the one that offers folate, B12, and biotin in their formulation. Supplements that provide folate as methyl folate are better absorbed by the body compared to synthetic forms. Vegans and vegetarians may fall short of B12 in their diet, so it is vital to get B12 in a supplement form. Like folic acid, B12 is necessary for a healthy nervous system and blood cell production. Adult women need 2.4 micrograms of B12 every day. Since the body's ability to absorb B12 from diet declines as a woman ages, it is necessary to reach for supplements to make up for dietary deficits.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a micro-mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining the health of your cells and blood vessels. It is a crucial component in maintaining blood pressure and promotes heart health. Adequate magnesium level is also necessary for bone health. Studies show that those with higher magnesium levels have higher bone mineral density, which is vital in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Insufficient magnesium levels also lead to chronic fatigue, muscle ache, depression, and mood swings.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is necessary for bone and dental health. Since foods containing vitamin D are rare, exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and supplements are two key sources of this vitamin. A growing body of evidence reveals that low vitamin D levels lead to type 1 diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, weight issues, rheumatoid arthritis, and several other degenerative conditions. Hence, it is recommended to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D for all age groups.
Calcium: Calcium is mainly associated with bone health, but this nutrient offers much more. It is necessary to regulate heart rhythms, control blood pressure, aid muscle functions, keep your heart healthy, and enable nerve signaling. When calcium is taken in combination with vitamin D and magnesium, it offers even more beneficial effects, including reduced fracture risk . Studies show that post-menopausal women suffer a higher risk of fracture due to bone loss. It is recommended that this age group include plenty of calcium-rich foods along with vitamin D and magnesium to support better absorption. The general recommendation for women between the ages of 50 and 70 is to take 1200 mg of calcium and 600 IU of Vitamin D a day. Women older than 70 require 1200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of Vitamin D a day.
Selenium: Selenium deficiency leads to an inadequate immune response in the body, leading to an increased frequency of cold and flu. In some people, selenium deficiency causes brain fog and fatigue, often confused with other nutrient deficiencies. Infertility, hair loss, and muscle weakness are strong indicators of an underlying selenium deficiency. The recommendation is to take 55 micrograms of selenium per day for people over the age of 14. Women who are pregnant or lactating must aim for 70 micrograms per day of selenium. To ensure adequate selenium intake, you can take multivitamins containing selenium in their formulation.
Choline: This nutrient is not as popular as the common vitamins and minerals; however, choline is essential for many vital functions. It is involved in cell maintenance, DNA synthesis, producing neurotransmitters, and metabolizing fat in the body. An observational study found that inadequate levels of choline, combined with low vitamin C and zinc, showed poor memory in older people.
Iodine: Iodine is an essential micronutrient that is required to produce thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency disorders range from slow metabolism to weight gain. It is also a crucial nutrient for women looking to become pregnant or who are pregnant. The brain development of the growing baby is dependent on the mother's iodine status. Recent studies show that iodine deficiency resurfaces in developed nations indicating alarm for a public health concern. Iodine deficiency leads to uncomfortable symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and swelling in the neck.
Probiotics: If you do not take fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, or yogurt, you miss out on the benefits of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria in foods that promote the health of your gut and overall well-being. According to research, probiotics boost your immune system, digestive health, and aid in weight loss .
Who benefits from supplements?
- Women who frequently diet (restrictive diets and fasting).
- Women with poor dietary habits
- Women of reproductive years
- Women with Premenstrual issues and those over 40
- Menopausal women
If you think you make poor dietary choices or simply want to ensure you are eating healthy, we recommend the following supplements to cover the nutritional gaps.
Women's Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations: This supplement is your one shop stop for all the essential nutrients and protective phytonutrients. The formulation offers multivitamins with phytonutrients, covering the nutrient gaps and aids in lowering the risk of age-related diseases. The supplement is a gluten-free, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic formula for women over 40. A striking feature of this formulation is its four nutrient complexes. The Macular synergy complex provides lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential nutrients that reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration of the eye. The Cardiopolyphenol complex focuses on heart health and supplies powerful antioxidants that promote healthy heart function. The Stress calm blend offers Rhodiola and lemon balm that reduce stress, anxiety and calms you. The Breast health plus offers nutrients like lignan, green tea extract, and turmeric root extracts known for their anti-cancer effects. The suggested dosage is 3 capsules, 1- 2 times daily, with meals.
Pro-Flora Women's Probiotic by Integrative Therapeutics: This probiotic formula supports vaginal and urogenital health. It offers a combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® strains that are acid and bile-tolerant. The recommended dosage is one capsule a day, and the formula offers one billion colony-forming units (CFU) per capsule.
Calcium Citrate by Douglas Laboratories: If you are looking for a supplement to support your bone health, Douglas Laboratories Calcium Citrate fits the bill. It provides 250 mg of elemental calcium from calcium citrate. The recommended dosage is one capsule per day. The supplement boosts your calcium intake and promotes better function and structure of your bones.
Optimox Optivite PMT: This supplement is exclusively formulated for women with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). The formulation offers crucial vitamins and minerals critical to the body during PMS. The suggested dosage is 2-6 tablets per day or as instructed by your physician. Besides offering the crucial B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, iron, and iodine, it also provides specific nutrients that help women during PMS. The formulation provides a combination of inositol, betaine Hcl, pancreatin, choline, and citrus bioflavonoids which reduce bloating and improve digestion among women with PMS. The formula also contains rutin, a type of anti-inflammatory plant nutrient. The combination of B vitamins like biotin and nutrients like PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) helps prevent hair loss and reduce other PMS-related symptoms.
The above recommendations are thoroughly vetted, high-quality products that meet our highest standards for quality and bioavailability set for dietary supplements. Keep in mind, you can achieve optimal health by choosing a well-rounded, wholesome diet along with high-quality supplements. This is the best way to get all the essential nutrients to keep you healthy and strong.