All Woman

The supplements you really need

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 25, 2013    

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NO matter their age, fitness level or eating regimen, women need dietary supplements, which help to infuse the body with nutrients that are necessary for proper development and which may be missing from their daily food intake.

Supplements can come as pills, powders and liquids and play a very important role in helping to maintain an individual's overall health and fitness levels.

"A woman needs, for example, iron during her reproductive years. Because she is losing iron during menstruation, it would be good if her iron levels are kept up," explained nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant.

The issue of which supplements are necessary continues to be debatable, as everyone has their own individual needs. In the same way a woman's dietary needs would differ from a man's, the needs of women will vary based on a number of factors such as age and existing medical conditions. However, the fact that there are so many supplements lining pharmacy and health food store shelves usually leaves some women confused as to what to choose.

"It is always good to do a medical assessment to see what your needs are. People are sometimes taking it because their friends are taking it, but a blood work or an executive profile should be the prelude to determine what supplements you would need," suggested Grant.

"The supplement that you will need is also based on your age and would be based on what kind of activities you are having at that time, in terms of what's going on in your life. So for example if you are studying, then usually the immune system tends to become compromised. It would be wise at that time to make sure that you up your dose of vitamin C," he said.

If you are a woman and you are tired of feeling like you are at a medical symposium when you go to shop for supplements at the pharmacy, here is a guide to what you can ask for based on your dietary needs and medical condition.

1. For healthier bones. It's no secret that one of the best nutrients for maintaining strong bones is calcium. Boron, which is a trace mineral found in foods like raisins and bananas, also assists with the maintenance of strong bones. Manganese is a trace mineral that that helps with bone health.

2. For better vision. Vitamin A is crucial for healthy vision. So, too, are magnesium and the B complex vitamins because they are necessary for nerve function.

3. For pregnancy. Folic acid is crucial to the prevention of birth defects. Omega 3 fatty acid is also critical during pregnancy and assists with the early development of the nervous system and visual abilities during the first six months of life.

4. For strength and energy. Iron is your best bet for improved energy because it helps to deliver oxygen to the body. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) as well as niacin supports energy production, and potassium helps the muscles to function normally.

5. For hormone balance. Iodine is a mineral that assists with the production of hormones and aids with the functioning of the thyroid gland. The vitamin B complex also helps to increase your adrenal gland output and vitamin B6 and B12 in particular generally enhance the body's ability to process oestrogen.

6. For premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Glucosinolates are naturally found in cruciferous plants such as cabbage and broccoli and are known to help alleviate some symptoms of PMS. Magnesium and vitamin B6 are also supplements that can ease some of the symptoms associated with PMS.

7. For memory loss. Vitamin B-12 helps to keep the brain healthy and therefore contributes to the prevention of memory loss. So too do omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B6 which assist with effective brain functioning.

8. To boost the immune system. Vitamin C is your best bet to fight off the common cold and a host of other illnesses caused by viruses and germs. Other nutrients that help to support a healthy immune system are magnesium and vitamin E. Vitamin D as well has been found to assist with the outcomes of some cancers.

9. For healthy hair and beautiful skin. Vitamin E helps to fight against wrinkles and keep skin smooth, while Vitamin A helps the skin to repair itself and combat acne and dry skin. Omega 7, which is naturally found in wild salmon, helps with the maintenance of healthy skin as well.

10. For increased libido. Ginseng has been touted as being just as effective as Viagra in boosting libido and improving the sex life. Vitamin B3 (Niacin) helps with the production of sex hormones while vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) assists with vaginal dryness so that sex is less painful.

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