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There are thousands of different supplements in the market and sometimes choosing among the great variety of brands can be difficult. Many are specifically marketed for women’s use but which supplement should you go for? What are the nutrients that women are more likely to lack due to their diet? In this week’s article find out the top 3 supplements for women!

Calcium

Calcium is one of the minerals most often lacking in European diets. Of course, my advice would be to should choose calcium from food sources such as dairy products, fortified foods, soybeans, dark leafy greens, fish, and raisins. Aim to have three servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy each day to help bridge this gap. If you are struggling with consuming enough calcium rich foods, you should choose a calcium supplement. Look for calcium citrate or lactate as these forms are best absorbed by the body.

What it does

• helps keep bones and teeth strong
• helps muscles and blood vessels contract and expand
• sends messages through the nervous system
• secretes hormones

Why you need it

Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Women start losing bone density in their twenties as the normal cycle of bone breakdown and reformation is slightly being altered. Thus, calcium consumption is important for aging adults, particularly postmenopausal women whose bone breakdown happens at a faster pace than bone formation, resulting in bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis over time. Calcium is your single best defence, and you should start taking it now. The daily reccommendation for adult women is 1,000 mg of calcium but this may increase up to 1,200 mg for women over 60 years old or pregnant women.

Iron

What it does

• carries oxygen in the body
• aids in the production of red blood cells
• supports immune function, cognitive development
• temperature regulation
• is essential for proper cell growth

Why you need it

Low iron intake causes your body to reduce the production of red blood cells, causing a condition known as anaemia. This can lead to unrelenting fatigue and shortness of breath while doing activities that aren’t very strenuous. Moreover, you may have difficulty maintaining body temperature and decreased immune function, which means you will be more susceptible to infections. Specifically for women, blood loss during their period depletes the body’s iron stores, so it’s particularly important for women with heavy periods to eat iron-rich foods or take supplements.

Best iron food sources

Make sure your diet includes lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, whole grains, cereals, dark-green leafy vegetables and beans. If you choose an iron supplements, ferrous sulfate is most easily absorbed. And don’t forget to take the supplement along with foods rich in Vitamin C since they enhance your body’s iron absorption.

How much do you need

FEMALES
14-18 years: 15 mg/day
19-50 years : 18 mg/day
51 years and over: 8 mg/day
Pregnant: 27 mg/day
Breastfeeding Under 19 years: 10 mg/day
Breastfeeding 19 years and over: 9 mg/day

Folate

What it does

• helps produce and maintain new cells, including red blood cells
• maintains proper balance in the nervous system’s message-carrying molecules
• necessary for proper brain function for mental and emotional health

Why you need it

Folate is necessary for the prevention of anaemia and is absolutely essential to any pregnancy. Folate deficiency during pregnancy can lead to serious complications, including premature births and infants born with a condition known as neural tube defects. According to research women who take folic acid supplements before conception and during the first trimester may significantly reduce these risks. The daily recommended amount is 400 micrograms, but it increases to 600 micrograms for pregnant women and 500 micrograms for breastfeeding women. Furthermore, studies suggest that people with low intake of folate are also at increased risk for certain types of cancer.

Best folate food sources

Natural sources include leafy green vegetables, fruits, and beans; the synthetic form of folate (known as folic acid) is found in supplements and often added to enriched cereals, breads, pastas, and rice.

Feel free to have a look at the Supplements section of our Nutrition page where you can find these three supplements and many more on offer!

By Kleio Bathrellou
Associate Nutritionist

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