- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Top 5 Important Supplements for Women
So Many Supplements!
There are so many new supplements out there that it is easy to be confused and overwhelmed. Many people believe that they don't need supplements if they eat "healthy." I wish this were true! The way our foods have changed and how much our soil is now depleted of necessary minerals, many of us are deficient in something.
Another belief is that if people take a multi-vitamin and still have a poor dietary lifestyle, then they're okay! Taking a vitamin should not be a "band aid" for your health. It should be a "supplement" to an already existing health regimen.
Read on for more!
I put the PROBIOTIC at the top of the list for women.
As a nutrition consultant, the top issue I hear from other women is something related to digestion. Gas, bloating, irritable bowel, constipation, and reflux are among the few.
What is a probiotic? Probiotics are strands of good (live) bacteria that help balance your bacteria in the intestines.
There are so many to choose from, but two pointers to help you narrow down your search are:
- Should be high in lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (in the billions)
- Should be in a capsule (that way it gets through your stomach and to your intestines without it getting destroyed along the way)
Generally, you should expect to pay between $15-$30 a month for a decent brand of probiotics. This is a health investment! Remember, 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Keep it balanced!
And another thing: Taking a probiotic daily is highly recommended. If you've just finished a round of antibiotics, then probiotics are even MORE necessary.
What should you expect when taking probiotics?
1.) You may feel a little gassy during the first few days of taking the probiotic. This is your intestines working and using the bacteria! It is also a way to tell you that your system DID need a little help in the first place. You should expect this feeling to pass after the first week.
2.) Elimination may come easier! Many people have noticed that they can eliminate easier after being on probiotics. A healthy visit to the bathroom is always a good thing!
Do you take any supplements to enhance the digestive system?
2.) Digestive Enzymes
Once again, we are talking about the digestive system!
So often, our food does not get properly digested. What is the problem? Well, first it depends on the TYPE of food that we are eating. Some foods digest more easily than others. Second, there is a good chance that we are deficient in digestive enzymes!
One way to easily get digestive enzymes is through eating raw food. Yep! Raw fruits and vegetables are loaded with enzymes. However, there are a few things to consider:
- Fruit should be thoroughly washed and/or organic in nature to avoid pesticide ingestion.
- Fruit should also be eaten alone or before meals as it can be the last to digest properly (and it will ferment....causing gas, etc.)
- Vegetables should be thoroughly washed and/or organic as well.
- Vegetables that are raw are best eaten before a meal to get the enzymes into the body to help with the upcoming meal.
We can take digestive enzymes before a meal to take the stress off of your digestive system!
Digestive enzymes are exactly that: enzymes that help break down fats (lipids), proteins, and carbohydrates. If a meal is heavily cooked, chances are that it is totally void of any enzymes.
What do I do? I take enzymes before every meal, but I also have a diet that is loaded with raw vegetables. I like to get the benefits from both!
Vitamin D in a supplement form can be toxic if taken in levels over 5000 IU's every day for several months. This should only be done under a doctor's supervision. Once levels are raised, then most people can go down to a "maintenance dose."
3.) Vitamin D
I cannot stress enough the importance of Vitamin D!
It is found that a deficiency in Vitamin D is pretty much connected to just about every ailment and illness there is, such as:
- Cancer (many of them)
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic pain
And the list can go on......
Sometimes a deficiency can show symptoms like:
- Muscle cramps, muscle pain and/or weakness
- Poor sleep
- Joint pain
- Difficulty losing weight
And that list goes on too.....
Now, here's a little science:
A deficiency is considered a level below 20ng/ml.
Low Vitamin D levels are between 21-30ng/ml.
Good Vitamin D levels are between 31-50ng/ml.
Optimal Vitamin D levels are between 50-80ng/ml
Most doctors will allow you to get a Vitamin D blood test to see where you are. And guess what? The majority of us in the United States are deficient. With the use of sunscreen and lack of Vitamin D in foods, we don't get too much! You see, when I went and got my blood work in 2013, I thought that my Vitamin D level was going to be just fine. However, it turned out to be 25ng/ml, which was low. I had been taking 1000 IU of Vitamin D a day! I know too many people who don't even do that! I upped my dose to 3000 IU's and over the next year, I raised my level to 44ng/ml. Much better!
Talk to your doctor about getting the blood work! In the mean time, you can benefit from adding 1000-2000 IU's of Vitamin D to your diet.
4.) Omega 3
Omega 3's are fatty acids that your body is in great need of!
In the Western world, where a large portion of foods eaten are loaded with Omega 6 fats, we tend to be deficient in the good fats (which are the Omega 3's).
Basically speaking, Omega 3 fats promote anti-inflammation in the body. If we have issues with inflammation related diseases (arthritis is a good example), we should make sure we supply our body with plenty of Omega 3's. Omega 3's also benefit cardiovascular health as well.
Now, in supplement form, we can get Omega 3's in two ways:
- Fish oil (which is the most common and least expensive)
- Algae oil (which comes from algae and not fish)
With those examples, keep in mind that Fish oil can sometimes have questionable sources. So, your goal would be to look for those companies with a good reputation. In addition, remember, that some fish oils can still contain mercury or other toxic metals that come from the fish.
Algae is a vegetarian/vegan source of Omega 3, but tends to be a bit pricier.
Food sources of Omega 3's are a great addition as well:
- Nuts (like almonds and cashews)
- Seeds (especially flax seeds)
- Nut and seed butters! Yum!
- If you eat meat, some fish, like wild caught salmon contain Omega 3 fats.
- Some vegetables contain Omega 3's too, but not in large amounts like the nuts and seeds.
- Some foods are "fortified" with Omega 3, but you will have to look at the ingredients to see the source.
Overall, after taking Omega 3's for about 3 months daily, you should notice an improvement in your body. More specifically, joint pain and stiffness are in many cases, lessened. Follow the directions on the bottle and do not take more than the recommended amount.
Last, but not least, we all benefit from a high quality multivitamin.
The research tends to go back and forth. Some say that it is an overall benefit for a healthy person to take a multivitamin, others say that we can get all of our vitamins in food.
Personally, my view is: no, we cannot get it all from food....UNLESS, you grow all of your food in well fertilized soil, eat this food only, and don't eat anything that is processed or from a box. AND if you are totally free from environmental toxins, never take medicine, and never get sick. If you are one of these lucky peeps, I congratulate you! But for the rest of us, a multivitamin is valuable.
What to look for:
- Please don't settle for a multivitamin that is the cheapest on the market. This is your health we are talking about!
- In addition, look for ingredients that don't "add" preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.
- It should have a good mixture of B vitamins
- It should not contain Iron
- It should have Calcium and magnesium, even in small amounts
- Supplements that contain organic "superfoods" or other antioxidants are an added bonus
- Most do not contain Potassium (if it does, this should be avoided if you take blood pressure medicine)
Keep in mind, these are just a Top 5 list that I have found to be the most beneficial. There are some other supplements that many of us can benefit from as well.
Magnesium, is often overlooked as a good supplement, but it is readily available in nuts, seeds, etc. Magnesium is needed for virtually every function of the body, especially those involving the muscles and nervous system. I've found out personally that I was not getting enough magnesium by going through muscle spasms and damaged nerve pain. Once I began taking this supplement, my problems were gone.
Like Magnesium, there are other supplements out there that benefit individuals in different ways. We all have our own personal needs and it doesn't hurt to look into the natural way of taking care of our health!
Remember, buying supplements should be considered an investment. It is either spend $20 now on a bottle or spend much, much more later on down the road when poor health awaits you.
Your choice! Here's to your good health!