Do you eat healthy, balanced meals every day? You know that the body needs them to function efficiently. But more often than not, the rule of healthy eating gets broken. So what do you do? You turn to supplements.
Supplements are a great way to get your essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. But there’s so many of them, so which ones should you get?
How to Look for the Best Supplements
You don’t need to get all the supplement bottles you find. You only need to find the ones that you need.
Every body is different, and its requirements change depending on a lot of factors. For example, women in their 20s require different supplements than women in their 40s.
The best supplements are ones that your own body needs.
With that being said, here are the top 10 supplements women of all ages need, and how to use them:
Probiotics are healthy bacteria. They’ve been studied since the 1990s and have been proven to aid the body, particularly in digestion.
They also keep the balance between microorganisms inside the body in check. These healthy bacteria fight off bad bacteria and keep body fungi like yeast at bay.
This is why women who have undergone a round of broad-spectrum antibiotics are more likely to develop a vaginal yeast infection. The antibiotics kill all bacteria, good and bad. No one’s left to keep the yeast level in check.
Where to get them: You can get probiotics from fermented foods with live cultures, such as yogurt, soy sauce, kefir, kimchi, miso, pickles, kombucha, fermented cheese, and sauerkraut.
You can also buy probiotic drinks with live cultures, though these must be refrigerated to keep the live bacteria viable.
You can also get probiotic supplements in tablet or capsule form.
How to use them: There’s no exact or recommended range amount, but adding probiotic foods or supplements to your diet will promote healthy digestion. Most supplementary probiotics are meant to be taken after meals.
Lutein is one of the many carotenoids. It’s a nutrient that gives a yellow color to plants.
Lutein is a powerful antioxidant that protects the eyes. It can also protect the skin from harsh UV rays.
Older aged women will benefit from taking lutein supplements. ARMD, or age-related macular degeneration, is the leading cause of blindness in older women. Lutein helps prevent that.
Where to get it: Lutein, like many carotenoids, is synthesized by plants. This is why the richest sources of lutein are dark, leafy greens. This includes kale, spinach, and carrots. Animals get lutein by eating plants. Because of this, egg yolks are rich in lutein, too.
How to use it: The recommended dose is 6-10 mg. It should be taken with your meals.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats, or what’s known as “healthy oils.”
Omega-3s help maintain the cardiovascular and nervous systems by strengthening the heart and blood vessels. It helps lower triglycerides, which also lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease. It also reduces inflammation in the joints.
It also optimizes brain function, which affects memory and moods.
Pregnant women are encouraged to take fish oil supplements to promote healthy brain development of the growing baby.
Where to get it: Fatty fish such as tuna, sardines, herring, salmon, lake trout, and mackerel are rich in omega-3s.
How to use it: At least 1 g a day. Fish oil soft gel capsules can produce a fishy aftertaste known as “fish burps”, so it’s best to take them with meals.
Co-Q10 is an antioxidant that helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. It also helps fuel production within the cells.
Where to get it: Co-Q10 naturally occurs in tissues, so it’s abundant in meat. Vegetarians can get co-Q10 from canola oil and soybean, though supplements are also available.
How to use it: Anywhere between 30-100 mg a day is fine. Look for oil-based co-Q10 supplements, and take them with meals.
Folate is part of the B vitamins. It helps maintain and produce new cells. It’s also important for brain function.
Pregnant women are advised to take folate supplements to prevent neural birth defects.
Where to get it: “Folate” comes from “foliage”, because you can get it from dark, leafy greens. Eggs, avocados, beans, and peanuts are also good sources.
How to use it: Pregnant women need most, so they should take at least 600mcg. Breastfeeding women should take 500 mcg a day. For normal use, 400mcg a day is fine. Take them with meals for better absorption.
B complex is a group of water-soluble vitamins that maintain nerve health. B vitamins also promote healthy hair, nails, and skin. They also maintain the body’s metabolism, something that drops as women age.
Where to get it: You can get B vitamins in a variety of foods. Fruits and veggies, of course, so also in cereals and whole grains. B12 can be found in fish, meat, and milk.
Lots of food products are fortified with B vitamins, too.
How to use it: Anywhere between 1.5-2 mg of B vitamins a day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a higher dose.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s unique. The body produces the substance that becomes vitamin D after the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D is responsible for bone health. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, phosphate, and magnesium.
Women lose bone density as they age. This can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
Where to get it: You can get small amounts of vitamin D from fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. Cheese and eggs also have trace amounts.
How to use it: 15 mcg a day is the recommended dose.
It’s the iron in the blood that carries oxygen. Without enough iron, you can suffer from anemia. Iron also helps in the production of red blood cells. It also supports the body’s immunity.
Women who still have periods especially need iron, to make up for the blood loss. Athletes and vegetarians or vegans also need iron supplements.
Where to get it: Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, lean meats, beans, and whole grains.
How to use it: 18 mg a day, preferably taken with vitamin C to increase absorption. Should be taken on an empty stomach, but if you have a sensitive stomach, take it an hour after eating. Don’t drink it with milk.
Vitamin C & E
Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants. Vitamin C is well-known to boost the immune system. It also helps repair bones, teeth, and body tissues. Vitamin C also promotes the production of collagen, which keeps skin elastic and supple.
Vitamin E also boosts the immune system. It also helps repair and maintain the skin, hair, nails, and eyes.
Where to get them: Citrus fruits, red bell peppers, and broccoli are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin E, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is in many healthy oils and fats such as canola and olive oil. Butter, almonds, hazelnuts, and other nuts are also rich in vitamin E.
How to use them: At least 75 mg of vitamin C a day, but limit it to under 2,000 mg. For vitamin E, 15 mg a day is enough.
Calcium is important not only for healthy, strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps muscle contraction. This is important, because the heart is also a muscle.
Women start to lose bone density once they hit twenty, so they need calcium supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need extra calcium, to support the bone growth of the baby.
Where to get it: All dairy products and dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli.
How to use it: 1,000 mg a day is fine. If you’re also taking iron, don’t take them together. Take one in the morning and one before bedtime.
So there you have it! The top 10 best supplements for women. Are you getting enough?