Beyond the Multi: Other Supplements Women Should Know About
Supplements may be controversial, but there are some that many medical experts believe are important for most, if not all, women to take. Dr. Eyvazzadeh’s list includes, “Prenatal vitamins with fish oil, vitamin D, and CoQ10 — I think every woman should take CoQ10.”
Formally known as Coenzyme Q10, CoQ10 is an antioxidant produced naturally in the body and used by cells for growth and maintenance. While naturally occurring CoQ10 decreases with age, it can be found in nutritional sources like meat, fish, and nuts, and in supplements like capsules, tablets, and syrups.
“Most women are waiting until they are over 30 to have babies in our society and this is a time when chromosomal abnormalities increase, coinciding with when CoQ10 levels decrease,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh explains. “CoQ10 is also present in food, so you can make sure you're eating the CoQ10-rich foods and skip the supplement as well.”
Dr. Francis agrees with Eyvazzadeh on the fish oil (she recommends 1 tablespoon per day of fish or flax oil) and also thinks all women should be taking 300-500 mg of magnesium per day, as well as 1,000-5,000 mg of vitamin D3. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body related to everything from muscle and nerve function to immune system support, and D3 is a form of vitamin D usually derived from animal sources that may help regulate the amount of calcium in the body, among other important functions.
While not every woman will need to supplement her diet with calcium, it is important to know that the nutrient plays a critical role in female health. A natural mineral found in many foods like dairy, leafy greens, grains, and more, calcium helps maintain strong bones and allows the body to carry out important functions related to nerves, muscles, enzymes, and more.
For women, calcium is particularly crucial because after menopause, they experience greater bone loss and do not absorb the mineral as well. “Calcium requirements change over time because we are less able to retain calcium as we age,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh says. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends that women age 50 and younger get 1,000 mg of calcium a day (either from food, supplements, or a combination of the two) and that women age 51 and older get 1,200 mg.
So, What Does This Mean for You? We Have a Cheat Sheet!
For women going through certain life stages, Dr. Francis has some recommends for the supplements she thinks they all should be taking:
Best Supplements for Pregnancy:
Best Supplements for Postpartum:
Best Supplements for Perimenopause:
Best Supplements for Menopause:
For those in other life stages or for women who would benefit from taking additional supplements and herbs, the only way to know for sure what you should be taking is to work with a doctor.
“I recommend supplements based on lab testing,” Dr. Francis says. “I think people would benefit from having a relationship with a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine integrative medicine doctor to determine what is best for them.”