Just one in ten adults meet the federal fruit and vegetable recommendations, according to a 2017 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, as a result are missing out on essential nutrients. There are a surprising number of symptoms attributable to vitamin deficiencies. There are also a variety of dietary supplements available that can help ensure proper nutrition. Many of them designed to meet the nutritional needs of women.
If you’re lactose intolerant or you’re cutting dairy out of your diet, you may be lacking calcium, necessitating the need for a calcium supplement. Calcium is crucial for helping to build strong, healthy bones, and should be taken with another essential nutrient – vitamin D. Recommended dietary allowances for women ages 19 to 50 is 1,000 mg. Women older than 50 need 1,200 mg of this important mineral.
Probiotics are good bacteria that help balance out the bad bacteria in the body. Good sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Probiotics are also available as a dietary supplement. Probiotics help to support healthy digestion, immunity, and metabolism. Other advantages include decreased inflammation and lower blood pressure. They’ve even been linked to improved mental health.
Commonly called the “sunshine vitamin,” most Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when directly exposed to the sun. Vitamin D can also be obtained from certain foods such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, and mackerel), egg yolks, and some dairy products. It is crucial for optimal bone health and hormonal balance. However, most adults, especially women are vitamin D deficient.
Supplementing with vitamin D3 is an effective way to increase your daily intake of this important nutrient. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements, women up to 70 years old need 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day to meet recommended dietary allowances, which may still not be enough. You may need more, depending on what your doctor says.
B Complex Vitamins
There are several B complex vitamins, including B6, folic acid and B12. These vitamins work to support metabolism, prevent fatigue, and boost moods. Adequate B vitamins are needed for maintaining skin and muscle tone. Although animal products are good sources for B vitamins like B12, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you may need more of these essential nutrients. Women ages 14+ need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12/day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold water, oily fish such as wild caught salmon and mackerel. They can also be found in other foods as well, like chia seeds, flaxseeds and some fortified foods. The “3” fatty acids found in these food products are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Together, they pack quite a punch: Benefits include decreased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and some cancers. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish, at least two times a week as part of a heart healthy diet. Women can also supplement their intake of omega-3 fatty acids with a quality fish oil.