6 Supplements Experts Say Women Should Take in Their 20s and 30s.As women age, their nutrient needs become slightly more specific, and supplements can be helpful in meeting those demands.
For example, folic acid is important for brain health and can help improve memory and enhance mood. Vitamin D, on the other hand, supports bone strength and helps absorb calcium.
- Folic Acid
The B vitamin folic acid (also called folate) is essential for the body to make and protect DNA, as well as to produce red blood cells. It also helps the body break down, use and create proteins. It works with vitamin B12 to help reduce levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, which is thought to increase heart disease risk.
It also has an important role in the development of the nervous system and plays a key role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It has also been found to reduce anxiety, depression and poor concentration.
Experts say that it’s especially important for women of child-bearing age, since folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects in newborns. For most women, it’s recommended that they take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from fortified foods or supplements.
If you’re planning to become pregnant, your doctor may recommend that you take an extra 600 mcg of folic acid each day before and during pregnancy. It’s also recommended that women of child-bearing age who are already pregnant or breastfeeding take an extra 500 mcg each day from fortified foods or vitamin supplements to ensure that their babies get enough folic acid.
Folic acid supplements are usually available over the counter. However, you should speak to your doctor before starting them, because some medications can interfere with their effectiveness.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a key nutrient that is important for women’s health throughout life. It helps to prevent diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and autoimmune disorders.
It also plays a role in the brain and can help to regulate your mood. Research has shown that low levels of vitamin D have been linked with a higher risk of depression later in life.
However, it is essential that you ensure you have adequate amounts of this nutrient. This can be done in a number of ways, including sunlight exposure and diet.
The sun’s rays prompt the skin to manufacture vitamin D, which is then absorbed through the blood. People with darker skin or who live in climates where there is limited sun exposure are more likely to have low vitamin D levels.
This can be easily prevented by supplementing with vitamin D – a daily dose of 10 micrograms is the recommended amount to be taken in autumn and winter. You can do this by taking a supplement, or eating foods that have been fortified with vitamin D.
It is estimated that about a quarter of adults in the UK have vitamin D deficiency. People who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, bone fractures and diabetes.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports collagen production. It helps boost skin’s appearance and improves circulation. It also reduces the signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.
It is a water-soluble nutrient that is essential to the body. It is found in foods such as berries, citrus fruits and tomatoes.
Researchers say that low levels of this nutrient may lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and cancer. So, experts recommend that women over the age of 40 take a supplement to ensure they are getting enough vitamin C.
Another important nutrient for women in their 20s and 30s is Vitamin E. This nutrient is important for the health of your blood, brain and eyes. It has antioxidant properties that can protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals – molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to pollution and tobacco smoke.
It is also good for your bones and joints, as it strengthens them. It can help with inflammation and joint pain, and it helps maintain a healthy immune system. It also helps with cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin which has been known to boost the immune system and fight ageing. It also has antioxidant properties and can help to maintain good eyesight.
Vitamin E is found in many foods including almonds, hazelnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. It is also present in a small amount of vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil.
In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is associated with improving blood flow. It helps the lining of blood vessels to become less clogged with fatty deposits which can lead to coronary heart disease.
It can also reduce the risk of leg cramps, as it contains elements that inhibit the formation of lactic acid. It has also been linked to a reduced risk of muscle diseases, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
As we get older, our bodies become more vulnerable to free radicals that are produced during normal processes in the body such as breathing, digestion, energy production and hormone activity. These oxidative substances cause damage to cells and contribute to ageing and chronic disease.
In addition to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E also supports the health of the liver and kidneys. It helps to protect against the development of cancers, and also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with blood clotting, heart health and bone health. It also helps to reduce your risk of cancer. In addition to helping reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer, it may help prevent prostate cancer as well.
One study, published in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), found that men who took high doses of K2 daily were 35 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who didn’t take it. The study’s authors suggest that K2 helps your body to metabolize calcium, which is important for preventing bone loss and reducing the risk of prostate cancer.
Another benefit of taking K2 is that it increases your body’s insulin sensitivity and secretion. This can lower your blood sugar levels and may even prevent you from developing diabetes.
The most bioavailable form of vitamin K2 is MK-7, which has been shown to promote heart health, improve glucose metabolism, reduce inflammation and prevent rheumatoid arthritis. It is more readily absorbed and digested than its counterpart, vitamin K1 (phylloquinone).
Vitamin K2 also supports collagen production in the body. Healthy collagen keeps skin plump and youthful looking, and it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Wrinkles are caused by uneven folding and sagging of the skin’s proteins.
Iron is an important mineral for women, ensuring red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body and helping to boost your immunity. It’s also needed to help maintain good bone health, and to support the production of proteins vital for the growth of new cells.
The amount of iron you need changes over the course of your life, so it’s essential to eat a range of foods to ensure you’re getting enough. Ideally, you should aim to have at least one serving of iron-rich food per day and take a supplement if your intake isn’t sufficient.
For women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s especially vital to get enough iron for both themselves and their baby. The need for iron increases by as much as 80% during pregnancy, and if you’re not eating enough it can lead to tiredness, shortness of breath and lightheadedness.
It’s also important to make sure you’re consuming the right type of iron. Heme iron, found in meat, fish and poultry, is better absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant sources such as nuts and seeds.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, try to increase your iron intake by incorporating vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries and sweet peppers into your diet. These are high in the amino acid riboflavin, which can help to promote absorption of non-heme iron from other foods.