Women go through many changes throughout their lives and it is important to ensure that we treat our bodies well. Our bodies require a certain amount of nutrients to maintain good health and it is important to prioritize some of the most essential nutrients in a pool of many. Countless important nutrients are provided by our diet and other sources, but if it is not enough, supplements may be used to meet the daily recommended allowances of these nutrients.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as fish oil, are more than beneficial to add to your daily list of supplements. Omega-3s provide benefits like reducing cardiovascular risk, aiding in weight loss, having anti-inflammatory properties, improving brain function, and helping battle depression. They are also important in pregnant women to support a healthy developing baby.
Omega-3 fatty acids are only obtained through diet or supplementation because the body cannot produce them by itself. Although you can get these essential fatty acids through diet from eating nuts, fish, leafy veggies, and vegetable oils, sometimes we don’t receive enough and a supplement helps significantly. Make sure the supplement you choose contains EHA and DHA, the most important type of omega-3 fatty acids, and ensure the amount contained in each serving is at least 1,000mg per day. Taking fish oil supplements with a fatty meal also helps to increase its absorption.
Vitamin D is a Holy Grail supplement that is much underrated and under-consumed. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption for strong bones, helping to support your muscles and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, which is more common in women than men. It also aids in cell growth, immune function, reducing inflammation, and reducing fatigue. The daily recommended allowance for vitamin D in women is 600IU (15mcg) daily. Without appropriate supplementation, you may experience weakness, bone pain, and fatigue. Do not take too much vitamin D though, as too much can cause nerve problems and will be counterproductive in its effects.
Calcium is necessary for strong bones and, because women are more prone to developing conditions like osteoporosis and low bone density, it is a very essential supplement for women who may not be receiving enough. Calcium also helps keep your heart beating, muscles contracting, and blood clotting. If we do not get enough calcium, our bodies begin to take the calcium out of our bones. It is recommended that women consume 1,000mg of elemental calcium daily.
Our body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells to and through the body. This is especially important in women because during menstruation the body loses more iron than usual. The recommended amount of iron required daily varies widely based on several factors like age, vegetarian diet, and sex.
In general, the average adult woman requires about 18mg of iron daily, but not more than 45mg. Iron should also be taken with food and plenty of water to relieve side effects like upset stomach, nausea, and constipation. Because iron can affect the absorption of other medications and supplements, it is especially necessary to consult with your doctor before taking any amount of iron.
Magnesium is essential for regulating processes like nerve function, muscle function, healthy bones, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Magnesium has also been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines. The average woman should have 310mg-320mg of magnesium per day in forms more easily absorbed by the body; magnesium chloride, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium aspartate.
Magnesium has laxative properties, so be cautious when taking this nutrient as you may experience more fluid stools.
There are many B vitamins (B-1, B-2, B-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9, and B-12), but don’t fret. They all serve a specific purpose individually, however they do come in a combined B-complex vitamin to reap all of the benefits in one swallow. B vitamins serve a wide variety of purposes, not limited to, migraine prevention, helping with depression, supporting a healthy pregnancy, relieving symptoms of autoimmune conditions, and helping with diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.
Taking the recommended dose of B-complex vitamins is generally safe, however too high a dose of B-complex vitamins can cause symptoms like higher blood sugar, headaches, stomach upset, and liver damage; so stick to standard dosing unless otherwise instructed by a doctor.
Probiotics are essential in fighting bad bacteria, supplementing good bacteria, immunity, maintaining proper digestive health, and also balancing vaginal flora. Look for probiotics that contain Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium in a quantity of five billion to ten billion colony forming units (CFU). When choosing a probiotic supplement, remember to read the label for storage requirements. While some can be stored at room temperature, others require refrigeration for optimal effectiveness.
Always consult with your doctor before starting any supplements, especially if you have medical conditions. These are only recommendations and not a complete resource for every woman with all of the nutrients your body may specifically require.