Supplements are just that “ extras that we take to fortify an already (one hopes) healthy lifestyle. One of the most often-repeated anti-vitamin arguments is they’re unnecessary if you ˜eat right.’ But what does that mean, exactly? Well, if you’re honest with yourself, the tablespoon of peanut butter sprinkled with a handful of chocolate chips that you ate for dinner after you worked late last night “ definitely not complete. It’s doubtful that you consume three servings of fatty fish a week. And we know the body cannot produce enough vitamin D to save us from deficiency during dark Canadian winters.
The following three supplements are important for every woman “ especially if you want to ease up on the guilt associated with occasional chocolate-laced bad choices.
Here’s what you should be taking and why.
From October to April in Canada, there isn’t enough sunlight to trigger the production of vitamin D in our skin. This means that throughout the winter, most of us don’t get enough, setting us up for a host of health issues.
D deficiency has been linked to depression, bone loss and increased risk for certain cancers (including breast cancer) and other diseases. Adequate levels can improve mood (it’s not called the sunshine vitamin for nothing), boost the immune system against viruses (like the common cold), help with weight maintenance, and even ease PMS symptoms.
Bonus: it’s one of the smallest, cheapest vitamins out there “ you’ll want a daily dose of 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D3.
It’s called an essential fatty acid for a reason: the body cannot make this nutrient (necessary for brain structure and function) on its own “ we need it from dietary sources. One crucial component of Omega-3 is EPA, a fatty acid found in oily fish and seafood that has shown in countless studies to help regulate mood. Since most of us aren’t in the habit of grilling up salmon steaks and snacking on sardines, a fish oil supplement “ preferably one with between 500 and 1,000 mg of EPA “ can help to considerably brighten your mood and mental outlook and ease the body’s stress response.
Omega-3’s benefits aren’t limited to the brain though; it keeps the whole body working well. It strengthens the heart and immune system and can even help to clear skin, fortify nails and make hair shinier and healthier.
Tip: If the thought of fish oil turns your stomach, look for easy-to-swallow capsules with lemon or orange flavour to neutralize the fishy taste.
If you’re considering having a baby “ in a year or in 10 “ you should start taking folic acid. Also known as folate, this B vitamin is necessary for proper cell growth and development of the embryo. When taken in advance of and during pregnancy, it has been proven to reduce the risk for birth defects and some forms of cancer and heart disease.
Research also shows it can reduce the incidence of miscarriage, preterm delivery and low birth-weight in babies. Look for it in high-quality multi-vitamins “ a daily minimum of 400 micrograms (or 0.4 mg) is recommended, and upper levels of 800 to 1,000 are safe during pregnancy.