In an ideal world, it would be possible to get needed nutrients from food. However, with our busy lives, supplements might be necessary. Many women also require supplements as they age. What supplements should you consider taking?
Iron is a mineral essential in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body and help support the immune system. An individual who is not getting adequate amounts of iron might experience fatigue and weakness. Women who have heavier periods tend to have lower iron levels. In addition, women who are on a vegetarian or vegan diet might not be getting enough iron, as the highest source of iron in food comes from meat. Iron levels can be checked with a blood test. If your iron is low, your doctor might recommend taking an iron supplement called ferrous sulfate.
Calcium is another mineral that is very important in a woman’s body. As women age, estrogen levels become depleted. Estrogen affects how the bones absorb calcium, so lower levels of estrogen can lead to weakening of the bones. Calcium is important for all women, as bone can begin to weaken in women as young as age 20. However, calcium is most important for older women, whose calcium needs are often not met by diet alone. Look for a calcium supplement that contains vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption. It is also recommended to take smaller calcium supplements throughout the day rather than one large dose, as the body will be better able to absorb the mineral in this manner.
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A supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids is another suggested supplement for women to take as they age. Omega-3 has been shown to reduce inflammation and lubricate the joints, making it important in preventing and easing the symptoms of arthritis and other joint problems. Fatty acids have also been shown to help prevent macular degeneration, which is an age-related loss of vision. Omega-3 has also been found to help improve the health of the brain, which might help prevent aging-related memory and cognitive problems. Finally, omega-3 supplements have been found to help prevent heart disease and cancer. Look for a supplement that contains 100–300 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Look for a supplement that contains both EPA and DPA, which are different components of fatty acids that play different roles in your body.