The Best Supplements for Women

The Best Supplements for Women

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Whether we’re juggling childcare, work, caring for the elderly, volunteering or all of the above, we women do it all! Fueling our bodies with the right nutrients to stay healthy can be especially challenging, given our hectic schedules.

What’s more, our nutritional needs change throughout the different stages of our lives. That’s why having a strategic supplement plan is a great way to complement a healthy lifestyle.

But where to start? Choosing the right supplements is tough. So, the experts at Life Extension put together a list of the top supplement recommendations you should be taking to properly nourish the warrior woman that you are!

Must-have minerals: Iron, calcium, magnesium

Mother and daughter having different mineral needs

Your body needs minerals to function optimally. And while you don’t need large amounts compared to macronutrients like carbs, proteins and fats, not getting enough can affect your overall health and lead to more serious health implications.

Most of us occasionally gravitate towards less-than-ideal dietary choices from time to time, like processed foods, which lack necessary minerals. “Getting your minerals from nutrient-rich foods is the best starting point,” explained Registered Dietitian Holli Ryan. “Then, turn to your customized supplement plan to target any nutritional gaps.”

Mineral

Health benefits

Food source

Recommendations

Iron

Your red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen, supporting energy production and healthy muscle function.

Red meats, seafoods, poultry, leafy greens, vegetables, lentils, beans, dried apricots and raisins.

A highly absorbable iron supplement is ideal.

Calcium

Essential for sturdy bones and healthy teeth, muscle health, cell-to-cell communication and hormone balance.

Dairy and non-dairy products like almonds, bok choy, kale, spinach, broccoli.

Look for bone-friendly calcium supplements that are easy for your body to absorb.

Magnesium

Needed for healthy energy and protein production, and bone, muscle and nerve health.

Dark, leafy greens, avocados, dark chocolate, cashews and brown rice.

Adding a magnesium supplement helps ensure you meet your daily needs.

Plus, healthy mineral levels also depend on your age and how well your body absorbs and uses the foods you eat, pointed out Life Extension's Education Specialist, Dr. Crystal M. Gossard, DCN. "Your body will require different amounts of certain minerals throughout the different stages in your life," she explained.

If you're of childbearing age, for example, you'll "need more iron than when you start menopause because the menstrual cycle depletes iron levels," added Dr. Gossard. Once you reach menopause, however, you can switch to a lower dose of iron intake and turn your attention more to calcium and magnesium.

Get head-to-toe healthy with vitamins D & B

Woman drinking coffee out in the sun for vitamin D

Vitamins are crucial for your overall well-being. But the hectic demands of our daily lives make it easy to fall behind because (let's be honest), who has time to eat five to seven servings of fruits and veggies every day?

If your first thought is "take a multivitamin," you're definitely not wrong! However, in some cases, a specific vitamin supplement may be more beneficial, according to Dr. Gossard. "A multivitamin would be a foundational choice to support overall health, but choosing specific vitamin supplements helps you personalize your health needs based on your goals or for optimization," she explained.

Here are our two crucial (but often overlooked) suggestions: vitamin D and B vitamins.

  • Vitamin D: This vitamin supports calcium absorption for healthy bones, encourages a healthy immune response and heart health, and promotes respiratory health, hormone balance…and even your mood!
  • B vitamins: Your body uses B vitamins to maintain brain health and healthy nerve function, regulate cell growth and maintain healthy red blood cells (and so much more). Pregnant or breastfeeding? Definitely don't skip out on these vitamins essential for healthy prenatal development and deliveries, noted Dr. Gossard. "B vitamins support digestion, and even boost energy levels in mommies to be," added Ryan. However, if you have a sensitive tummy, consider taking your B vitamins with food.

Why women need cranberries

Woman holding bowl of cranberries packed with antioxidants

Cranberries are packed with powerful antioxidants, and they do wonders for your urinary tract. "Clinical research shows that cranberries support women's urinary tract health by inhibiting the adherence of certain bacteria to the urinary wall," explained Dr. Gossard.

Another reason why cranberries are considered a "superfood" is because they protect against cellular stress, which in turn promotes heart health, healthy digestion and may even encourage immune health, Ryan noted.

But before you stack your fridge with cranberry juice, keep in mind that it often has added or hidden sugars (so not ideal when you want to maintain a healthy weight). Look for a cranberry supplement instead—you'll get all the health benefits of cranberries without the added sugars.

Support healthy estrogen levels with IC3

Woman supported by inodle-3-carbinol for hormone balance

If you ever needed a reason to eat more broccoli and cruciferous vegetables, it's to get your indole-3-carbinol (IC3s). Its role in hormone metabolism makes indole-3-carbinol a star player in women's health— it even helps promote breast tissue health! "It specifically supports healthy estrogen metabolism, which is crucial because estrogen balance affects cell growth in estrogen sensitive tissues," explained Dr. Gossard.

You'd need to eat a lot of these veggies to benefit your metabolism of estrogen, though—about two and a half cups per day, according to Ryan. Which is…a lot. Here's where finding an IC3 supplement that combines ingredients like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower extracts will help you meet your nutritional needs—even if you skip a serving or two of broccoli.

Probiotics & the gut-health connection

Woman eating yogurt to support digestive health

You've heard of the "good bacteria" that support digestive health, but do you know what they are? These bacteria are part of an intricate ecosystem that make up your microbiome. It includes trillions of microorganisms (along with fungi, protozoa, viruses and bacteriophages) that live on and inside you.

Because these friendly bacteria (and the rest of your microbiome) participate in the many biological processes that regulate different aspects of your health—from digestion to brain and immune health, skin health and even your mood—they are key to a long, fulfilling life.

In addition to a well-balanced diet, which should include fermented foods and healthy sources of fiber like veggies, "taking a well-formulated probiotic strain supplement will ensure your body has access to the many health benefits probiotics offer," noted Ryan.

Remember, health is about more than "feeling fine." Your wellness depends upon all the daily choices you make every day, from nourishing your body to drinking enough water, exercising regularly and getting plenty of restful sleep.

A focused dietary supplement plan supports those choices so that you can live your best life—at every age.

 

References