What women need in diet supplements

What women need in diet supplements

PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, January 25, 2021

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FOR the average, healthy woman, consuming a balanced, nutritious diet will provide all the essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function optimally. But for those who think they're not getting enough fruits and veggies, or those who want a multivitamin for a specific medical purpose, general practitioner Dr Annetta Wishart says choosing one to fill your nutritional gap should not be done arbitrarily.

“Ideally, we recommend that you choose a balanced diet, that way you get all the minerals you need from there. We know that is not always possible, or there might be a special situation, for example, if a woman is pregnant or decides to become a vegetarian. At this point, we have to look into vitamins that are most suited,” Dr Wishart said.

So, what should women look for the next time we go supplement hunting? The doctor shares a list of the most essential vitamins and minerals to consider:

Calcium

“An adequate amount of calcium in the diet is crucial, especially for women. Women's supplements should have extra, because they are at a greater risk than men of developing bone conditions like osteoporosis or what is commonly referred to as brittle bone,” Dr Wishart advised. She underscored that calcium provides the best defence to women against a weakened bone structure, especially since we start losing bone density from as early as our twenties.

Iron

Women's supplements, particularly for those who are still in their childbearing years, tend to have more iron. The absence of adequate amounts of iron in your diet can reduce the production of red blood cells, which may cause anaemia. “Women who are still having their periods will need more of this mineral than men or older women. When a woman is menstruating, much of the iron stored in her body is depleted, so replenishing this supply is crucial. For older women, though, a higher dose of iron is not necessary and what she gets through iron-rich foods should be enough,” Dr Wishart noted.

Folate

Folic acid is particularly important for women who are planning to get pregnant and women who are already pregnant. This vitamin is crucial to a growing baby because of its ability to help prevent certain birth defects, especially neural tube defects such as spina bifida. “This is why pregnant women are often encouraged to take folic acid supplements in addition to their regular prenatal vitamins due to their low reserve in the body and the high demand of the growing foetus for nervous system development,” Dr Wishart advised.

Outside of the baby benefits, folate can also assist with reducing your chances of anaemia, since it also helps in the production of red blood cells. A low intake of folate has been found to increase the risk of certain cancers including cancers of the cervix, lungs, colon and brain.

Melatonin

Melatonin is an essential vitamin in a woman's diet. It is essential to the hormonal regulatory progress – managing the woman's entire menstrual cycle from the day she has her first period to the commencement of menopause. It also helps to regulate sleep patterns. A deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to sleep disturbances and breast cancer.

Magnesium

Magnesium is critical to many of the biochemical processes in the body. These include helping the body to support a healthy immune system, regulating normal blood pressure and sugar levels and even helping to maintain muscle and nerve functions.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision support, skin, and skeletal tissue. Research shows that it can also help with the prevention of some cancers.

B Vitamins

“Women are very big on the physical, hair and nails for example and this group of vitamins contributes to the health of the skin, hair and nails,” Dr Wishart said. They provide other benefits to various other body functions, including the nervous system, mental wellness, and proper functioning of the body's metabolism.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been sold to us as one of the best defences against the flu and other contagious illnesses, but it does more than support the immune system with challenging free radicals in the body, Dr Wishart says. “Vitamin C also helps to reduce stress in the body, to produce collagen which is a common ingredient in skin-care products because of its ability to help with skin repair, as well as the skin and the growth of tendons and ligaments,” she highlighted.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, like calcium, is very important for bone and immune system strength. Unfortunately, living in a tropical country does not guarantee that you will have the required intake. A deficiency has also been linked to the development of both types one and two diabetes.

Omega-3

Unfortunately, autoimmune conditions like arthritis often tend to affect a greater number of women. Keeping your intake of omega-3 optimal will reduce chances of inflammation. Also, Dr Wishart says that your chances of other chronic diseases such as cancer and heart diseases are also lowered with regular intake.

Other vitamins and minerals

Vitamins E and K, and minerals like zinc, fibre, biotin, and probiotics are also a bonus in these supplements. Dr Wishart recommends that before you start a supplement regimen, it is important that you first consult with your general practitioner. This, she says, is crucial for patients who have existing medical conditions and those on medication. Some supplements, she explained, can trigger allergies, exacerbate medical conditions and interfere with medications you are taking.


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