As women, we are flooded by information about nutrients we need. Many of us take a multivitamin, but is that enough? Before your next visit to stock up on supplements, take a peek at some nutrients that experts say you won’t want to go without.
If you’re drinking your milk and eating other calcium-rich foods, it’s a good start. The National Osteoporosis Foundation says enough calcium can reduce bone loss later in life, and most ladies do not get enough of this nutrient. Your daily 8-ounce latte doesn’t cut it, gals. Leafy greens, seafood and legumes are good sources.
Make sure to get: 1,000 mg a day if you’re of childbearing age, 1,200 mg a day after menopause.
Our bodies convert CoQ10 into ubiquinol, which gets harder after the age of 40. Normal portions of food do not provide the adequate amounts of CoQ10 needed to convert into an ample daily supply of ubiquinol, says Keri Glassman, a nutrition expert and author of The New You (and Improved!) Diet: 8 Rules to Lose Weight and Change Your Life Forever. “Optimal ubiquinol levels are important for anyone looking to support cardiovascular, neurological and liver health,” says Glassman.
She says it is also the strongest known lipid-soluble antioxidant that’s beneficial for anti-aging; plus, it may also help to counter the side effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Make sure you get: Foods rich in CoQ10 such as oily fish, meat, whole grains, certain veggies, and olive and sesame oils.
This is quite the super-nutrient these days, as more studies tout the benefits of getting adequate vitamin D. It helps your body maintain the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, and helps form and maintain strong bones, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Other perks: It can help your immune system and may improve muscle strength. Get out in the sun but wear sunscreen, and make sure to eat eggs and salmon during winter months if you don’t get enough sun.
Make sure to get: 600 IU a day for women up to age 70; 800 IU if you are over 71; 600 IU daily if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
These can soothe inflammation in the body, boost heart health and help to prevent cancer. “Since our bodies cannot make omega-3s on their own, we need supplementation from our diet,” Glassman notes.
Make sure you get: Fatty fish, ground flaxseed, canola oil, chia seeds or a supplement.
Many women have developed anemia as a result of not getting enough iron, but be warned that too much can be harmful. Iron helps your body distribute oxygen in the blood.
Make sure to get: 18 mg a day if you are menstruating; 27 mg a day for pregnant women; 9 mg a day if you are breastfeeding; and 8 mg day if you are post-menopause.
Folate is a B vitamin that helps your body make red blood cells, can prevent birth defects and lowers levels of the amino acid homocysteine.
Make sure to get: 400 mcg a day; 500 mcg a day for pregnant women; 600 mcg a day for breastfeeding women.
Don’t miss out on magnesium, girls: It can helps produce energy in your cells, maintain muscles and nerves, steady your heart rhythm, boost your immunity, build bones, and regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. Good sources of magnesium include spinach and other fresh vegetables; stick to unprocessed foods, including whole grains and fruits, to get the most .
Make sure you get: 310 to 320 mg daily; 350 to 360 mg if pregnant.
Vitamin C is another nutrient that you may think you’ve got cornered, but if you’re not eating citrus fruits you may be missing out; dark veggies are also a good source.
Make sure you get: 75 mg per day; 85 mg a day if you are pregnant; 120 mg a day if breastfeeding; and an additional 35 mg if you smoke.
Do you need a supplement?
So, could a multivitamin give you all of these nutrients?
“Sometimes you may not need a multivitamin at all, sometimes you may need a multivitamin with no need for anything else and sometimes you may just need particular nutrients,” says Glassman, noting that it depends on an individual’s needs and other factors.
Talking to your doctor is a good idea to see which nutrients you need, and working in some of these healthy foods can be a good idea as well. Together, a healthy diet and supplements can help make sure you get the right nutrients for your individual needs.