Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 5 May 2020
Every year in May we celebrate Women’s Health Month, which helps raise awareness about the unique health needs of women. Over the course of a woman’s life, nutritional needs will change. During pregnancy, for example, a woman may require additional B vitamins and iron. However, after menopause, women typically require less iron and more calcium and vitamin D.
Here are some of my top recommended supplements for women’s health:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in many body functions, including calcium absorption, bone formation, hormone regulation, brain and neuromuscular function, and immune health. Primarily obtained from sun exposure, vitamin D is also found in certain foods such as eggs and dairy products. In northern climates and due to a mostly indoor life, research is showing that we no longer get enough natural vitamin D from sunlight, so both men and women are at risk of deficiency. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women between the ages of 19 and 70 is 600 IU. The RDA for women over the age of 70 increases to 800 IU.
Top Vitamin D supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
The B vitamin group is made up of eight water-soluble vitamins that help regulate metabolism, prevent fatigue, and support mood and cognitive function. Older women, those with anemia, and vegans and vegetarians have the highest risk of deficiency. Lower levels of B6, B12, and folate have also been observed in women taking oral contraceptives. Vitamin B9, commonly known as folate or folic acid, is an essential nutrient for the development of a fetus’s spinal cord and brain during pregnancy. High amounts of B vitamins are found primarily in animal products, such as meat, eggs, fish, and dairy products. Folate specifically may be found in spinach and other leafy greens, beans, asparagus, and brussel sprouts.
Top B-complex supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
Calcium is involved in several body functions, including nerve signaling, muscle function, maintenance of blood pressure, bone health, and cardiovascular function. Calcium deficiency is unfortunately very common in women, particularly after menopause when estrogen levels decrease and boss loss increases. The RDA for women between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1000 mg and increases to 1200 mg after age 50.
Top calcium-containing supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
Magnesium, one of the most ubiquitous minerals in the body, is involved in hundreds of different biochemical functions. Magnesium deficiency is also one of the more common nutrient deficiencies. Signs of magnesium deficiency are widespread and include anxiety, muscle cramps or spasms, constipation, headaches, and insomnia. Magnesium deficiency may also cause PMS symptoms, and when taken with vitamin B6, may be effective in improving symptoms of PMS. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, spinach, cashews, peanuts, and black beans. It’s recommended that women between 19 and 30 consume 310 mg of magnesium daily and 320 mg daily after 30.
Top magnesium-containing supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
Iron is an essential mineral, necessary for the production of hemoglobin and oxygen transport within the body. Low iron levels and iron deficiency anemia are particularly common in female athletes, women with heavy menstruation, pregnant women, and women who do not consume animal products. The RDA for women under 50 is 18 mg per day. As women age, 8 mg per day is recommended due to the cessation of menstruation.
Top iron-containing supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
Omega Fatty Acids
The two primary omega, or essential, fatty acids are omega-3 and omega-6, each with unique purposes in the body. Omega fatty acids support cardiovascular, immune, and cognitive function. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to increase the growth of brain cells, improve mood, enhance memory, and boost blood flow as you age. Dietary sources of omega fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts for omega-3; and whole grains, nuts, and seeds for omega-6. Since omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids should be in relative balance, and due to modern diets being dominated by omega-6 containing foods like grains, it’s typically recommended to consume an abundance of omega-3 containing foods or take an omega-3 supplement. The daily recommended amount that women should consume is 1100 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Top omega fatty acid supplements at Quinte Naturopathic Centre:
I hope you found this informative and helpful, and I am wishing you a very happy and healthy Women’s Health Month. I hope to see many of you join my workshop!
Now I would love to hear from you! What is one thing you can do to celebrate Women’s Health Month? Leave a comment below and I’ll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!
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