3 Top Supplements for Women’s Health
By Venus Ramos, MD
While the best source of essential nutrients is a healthy and balanced diet, it’s not always easy for women to eat just the right amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that so many women choose to take health supplements.
Depending on your diet, lifestyle, routine, and life stage, some supplements will hold distinct advantages over others. However, there are a few that stand out as priorities for helping a woman’s body function optimally.
Vitamin D contributes to multiple functions in the body, from strong bones to a healthy immune system. However, probably one of vitamin D’s most important effects for women is on cardiovascular function. Research has found that people with low blood levels of vitamin D are more likely to have strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or high blood pressure later in life. For pregnant women, low vitamin D levels are associated with preeclampsia and other unfavorable outcomes. A similar association is seen between a low vitamin D level and development of diabetes.
Your body can make adequate vitamin D if your skin is exposed to enough sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. However, one study found that 36% of healthy adolescents and 57% of adults in the U.S. had insufficient levels of vitamin D.
Why are so many of us deficient in vitamin D?
It’s not easy to maintain sufficient levels of Vitamin D given our modern diet and lifestyle. These days, many people are spending fewer hours outside. In urban and polluted areas, UVB light gets filtered out, so even though you may be getting sun exposure, your skin may not be getting enough UVB light. Furthermore, to protect against skin cancer, we often apply sunscreen whenever we do get sun exposure. When properly applied, sunscreen reduces our ability to absorb vitamin D by more than 90%.
Other factors that can contribute to vitamin D deficiency are obesity, darker skin color, and problems absorbing fat (e.g., gluten, infections, or toxins could be causing an intestinal problem like “leaky gut”).
How can we get enough vitamin D?
Being out in the sun for 20 minutes every day, if you aren’t wearing sunscreen or do not have a dark skin color, can help your body make enough vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from egg yolks, fatty fish (like salmon), and organ meat (like beef liver). In addition, breakfast cereal and milk are often artificially fortified with vitamin D.
The Endocrine Society, a leading endocrine research organization, recommends a vitamin D blood level of 30 ng/mL as a minimum and, if levels are below that, a daily supplement of 1500 to 2000 IU. Due to widespread deficiencies, it is wise to ask your doctor to check your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, so you know how much vitamin D you should actually take.
Which type of vitamin D makes the best supplement?
Although five types of vitamin D exist, the body primarily uses vitamin D2 (also called ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). In order to be absorbed, the body must first convert both forms of the vitamin. Because vitamin D3 undergoes this process more quickly and effectively than vitamin D2, it is the preferred variant.
California Gold Nutrition offers Vitamin D3 gummies, which are organic and vegetarian. They come in a convenient serving size for dosing with 2 gummies providing 2000 IU.
Curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This is of particular interest to women because as their estrogen levels decline with aging, they are more susceptible to problems due to inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s.
Curcumin is a component of the spice known as turmeric. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is only about 3% by weight. So it is difficult to achieve effective anti-inflammatory levels simply by adding turmeric to food. Furthermore, curcumin is poorly absorbed in the bloodstream when consumed on its own. However, taking curcumin with piperine (a substance found in black pepper) greatly enhances its absorption.
For optimal effectiveness, look for curcumin products that include piperine, such as California Gold Nutrition’s Curcumin C3 Complex.
Fish oil is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can also reduce inflammation. Omega-3s are also associated with improved mood and memory and decreased risks of depression and dementia. Research has demonstrated all of these benefits with two specific types of omega 3s—EPA and DHA.
In the case of omega-3 intake, you might consider it better to opt for fish oil supplements as opposed to eating adequate amounts of fish due to concerns over mercury content in the latter. When choosing a fish oil, be sure to opt for fish sources that have been tested and shown to be free of mercury and other toxic components. California Gold Nutrition’s Omega 800 product contains both EPA and DHA, and exclusively uses a fish oil concentrate that has earned the coveted 5-star rating of the International Fish Oil Standards for quality, safety, and potency.