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7 Essential Supplements for Women
Women are extremely good at multitasking and hence when it comes to their self-care, only external protection isn’t enough. Undoubtedly, sunscreen, moisturizer and many other skincare products may enhance your beauty, but for a healthy body, you may need internal care as well.
Supplements are essential nutrients which are supplied to our body to keep it fit. They can be beneficial for women with nutrient deficiencies or for women who are unable to get the required amount from their daily diet. Also, women may need more nutrients when they are pregnant, lactating or have certain medical conditions that may lead to reduced nutrient absorption.
In this article, we have highlighted seven essential supplements or nutrients that every woman should consider for good health.
Calcium is an essential nutrient for women since they are more prone to osteoporosis as compared to men. Calcium is found in our bones and teeth and for women, it ensures healthy bones. Moreover, calcium is important for normal cell function, heart and muscle actions as well as to stabilize blood clotting. Decreasing calcium levels may have an impact on hormonal balance, nerve signal transmission and increase the risk of medical conditions related to bone such as fractures, arthritis etc.
All adult women require calcium in almost every stage of their lives. Approximately, 90% of bone mass is achieved by the age of 18 and peak bone mass generally occurs in the late 20s. Hence, teenage or young women should have enough calcium in their bodies. Women may lose bone mass and strength during the late 30s and calcium is thus important for these women.
For menopausal and postmenopausal women, the body tends to produce less estrogen and this result in bone loss. Calcium is a necessity for such women. However, it is important to know how much calcium should be taken as the requirement depends on your age.
Women who are aged 50 or below may consider taking calcium supplement of at least 500 mg (milligrams) along with other calcium-rich foods. Women older than 50 may take 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium. If you take more than 1,000 mg daily, you can split the dosage by taking a half in the morning and half in the evening for maximum absorption.
If you are already taking other medicines like diuretics or have a history of kidney stones, you may consult your physician before taking calcium supplements. Also, women who are prone to acidity may take calcium citrate, but only after due consultation with your physician.
Fish Oil Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids are specialized fats which are extremely important for reducing circulating triglycerides, inflammation and for maintaining heart and blood vessel health. These fats also support healthy joints and optimize our brain operations. However, these omega-3s can't be made in our bodies if we don't consume fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon or herring. These fishes are a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are Omega-3s.
Pregnant or nursing women require omega-3s for the brain development of their babies, while women who have elevated triglycerides should also consume them to minimize the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Often overweight women may experience joint tenderness and fish oil consumption may help to reduce the same.
One gram of EPA and DHA may help the majority of women, but if you have high triglycerides, you can consider having two to three grams of fish oil daily under your physician's guidance. Pregnant women can take 1 gram of DHA but must consult their physicians before taking fish oil supplements. Also, if you have a history of bleeding disorders or are currently taking medicines like blood thinners, other dietary supplements or blood pressure drugs, consult your physician before taking fish oil.
Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin and is found in leafy vegetables like spinach and asparagus. This vitamin is important for the proper functioning of cells and tissues in our bodies. This multivitamin can also normalize the levels of homocysteine in the blood.
For pregnant women, it prevents neural tube abnormalities in the foetus. Women in their childbearing years or pregnant women should take 400-800 mg of folate after consulting their gynaecologist or obstetrician. Non-pregnant women may take 400 mg of folate.
B vitamins like thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), panthothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), cobalamin (B12) and biotin are water-soluble nutrients which are essential for energy production. Women who engage in physical activities burn a lot of calories and require B vitamins.
Women older than 50 are generally advised to take a vitamin B12 supplement as nutrient absorption capacity may reduce with age. A well-balanced diet of lean meat, whole grains, vegetables and fruits can be combined with multivitamin supplements as per the requirement.
Vitamin D Supplement
This is a fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies can make when they are exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps out bodies to absorb calcium from the diet and supplements. Along with developing and maintaining healthy bones, good vitamin D levels may prevent bone-related medical conditions like osteoporosis.
Women who do not drink milk or consume dairy foods fortified with vitamin D may be at risk of developing its deficiency. Furthermore, women who are not regularly exposed to direct sunlight or women who are older than 50 years may lack the efficiency at processing vitamin D. This vitamin is available in two forms ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3).
Pre-menopausal women are advised to consume at least 500 IU a day, while postmenopausal and elderly women may consume 800 IU. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can take these vitamin D supplements for the healthy growth of their babies.
Coenzyme Q10 Supplement
This is a fat-soluble nutrient which protects us against premature ageing and maintains heart health. It's a powerful antioxidant which helps in energy production within cells and also protects the blood vessels.
Women who are taking medicines for heart disease or cancer may be at a high risk of developing a deficiency for CoQ10. You can take this nutrient with meals for better absorption and the usual dosage can be 30-100 mg daily. If you are taking more than 100 mg, you can split the dosage into two or more servings after consulting with your physician.
This nutrient belongs to the class of fat-soluble nutrients termed carotenoids and maintains eye health. It is also an antioxidant which can be found in leafy vegetables like spinach, corn, egg yolk and fruits. Lutein is important for women in preventing age-related macular degeneration and blindness.
Women who are exposed to pollutants and direct sunlight frequently may require lutein as it protects the skin from the sun's damaging light. You can take lutein supplements with food and the supplement should include 6 to 10 mg of the antioxidant. Women who have a family history of age related macular degeneration can seek their physician's help regarding the consumption of lutein supplements.
The type of supplement women require will depend on their diet, health status and age. The best way to understand your supplement needs is to consult a registered dietician or physician. These experts may help you to identify the nutrient gaps and suggest you the right supplements.
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