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Supplements for Women’s Health Part 1: Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
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Supplements for Women’s Health Part 1: Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is essential for women at any age. But your nutrient needs change as you progress through different stages of life. In part one of this two blog series, learn about key nutrients and supplements to help women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s live their best life. In part two, you’ll dive into the essential nutrients and supplements to consider as you get older.

Women in Their 20s, 30s, and 40s

While physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet are important at all stages of your life, take a look at a few nutrients and naturally-occurring compounds to highlight during your 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Folate

Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in green vegetables, beans, peas, oranges, and bananas. It is also added to cereals, bread, and other grains as folic acid, and can be found in nutritional supplements in the form of folic acid or methylated folate.

Although folate is most often associated with pregnancy, it’s just as important to focus on folate before pregnancy. The neural tube (which later becomes the brain and spinal cord) forms within four weeks of conception, often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant – and folate plays a huge role in making that happen. Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord birth defect, so women of reproductive age should aim to eat folate rich foods and take a supplement with at least  400 micrograms (mcg) (667 mcg dietary folate equivalents (DFE)) each day.* 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D work together to build and maintain strong bones.* Adults reach peak bone mass around the age of 30, so it’s important to focus on these nutrients early in life to support an active lifestyle for years to come. Adequate calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthful diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.*

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and most of it is found in the bone. Calcium-rich foods include milk and dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods, like orange juice, tofu, and cereals. Adult women ages 19-50 need about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. It’s best to get calcium from food, but if you struggle to get enough, a high-quality calcium supplement is an excellent way to fill in the gap.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because you can make vitamin D when exposed to UV light from the sun. But, there are many factors that affect how much vitamin D you can make from sunlight, like age, geographical location, environmental conditions, and sunscreen use. Certain foods, like fatty fish and egg yolks, naturally contain vitamin D, and foods like milk and orange juice are often fortified with vitamin D. Some people struggle to get enough vitamin D from their diet and sunlight alone, so a vitamin D supplement can step in to help achieve healthy vitamin D levels.

Iron

Iron is a mineral that helps make healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, and it also plays a key role in immune health

Women with a regular menstrual cycle need are 18 mg of iron a day. Good sources of iron include beef, turkey, chicken, fish, beans, legumes, spinach, tofu, and iron-fortified cereals. Keep in mind that iron from animal foods (heme iron) is easier for your body to absorb than iron from plant foods (non-heme iron). So, if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, you actually need 1.8 times more iron (about 28 grams).

Iron needs also increase during pregnancy to help the body make more blood so it can supply enough oxygen to baby.  Pregnant women should aim to get at least 27 mg of iron from their diet and a prenatal vitamin.

Vitamin C

If you’re getting most of your iron from vegetarian sources, be sure to include a good source of vitamin C at the same time. Vitamin C increases the absorption of plant sources of iron. For example, top your spinach salad with red peppers, tomatoes and broccoli, or strawberries. Add balsamic or citrus vinaigrette, and you’ve got an iron-rich vegetarian dish.

Inositol

Inositol is a B-vitamin-like nutrient found in whole grains, beans, nuts, and fruits, and it’s also made naturally in the body. Studies have shown that inositol supports healthy hormone, blood sugar, and insulin levels, menstrual regularity, ovarian function, and egg quality.* While inositol is found in small amounts in food, inositol is also available as a supplement to help women reach a beneficial dose.*

Berberine

Berberine  is a compound found in plants like barberry, goldenseal, tree turmeric, and Oregon grape. It’s connected to healthy hormone (testosterone) levels, gut health, and helps maintain a healthy metabolism. Plus, research shows it may be particularly beneficial to help support healthy insulin and blood sugar levels.*

Turmeric/Curcumin

Turmeric is a golden spice rich in plant compounds called “curcuminoids.” Research has linked most of the health benefits of turmeric to one specific curcuminoid: curcumin.* Like inositol and berberine, curcumin may also help support healthy insulin and blood sugar levels.*

Make sure you check out part two, “Supplements for Women’s Health: The Transition Years,” to learn more about your nutrient needs later in life.

 

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