Your guide to nutritional support
Do you take supplements? Sometimes, it’s hard to get all the healthy nutrients you need from diet alone. Stress, specialized diets, health conditions or an active lifestyle may mean that you’re missing out on key nutrients.
Here, we’ve listed four supplements that you might benefit from. As always, have a chat with your health care practitioner to determine which supplements might be right for you.
Low iron levels are not uncommon in women, especially athletes. Many of us will experience iron deficiency at some point between puberty and menopause, often due to monthly blood loss.
Symptoms of low iron may include
- difficulty concentrating
- shortness of breath
- coldness in hands and feet
- frequent infections
- low tolerance for exercise
Iron deficiency is easy to diagnose with just a quick blood test, and it is easy to treat through increased intake of dietary iron (think cooked leafy greens, soy products, beans and pumpkin seeds), as well as iron supplementation. If you’re deficient, supplementation can provide a huge improvement in energy levels, since iron helps you form healthy blood cells and aids their ability to transport oxygen to your body’s tissues.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, nab a prenatal multivitamin—by the time pregnancy is confirmed, the fetus has already begun some very important developmental stages. A prenatal multi is important for maternal health and fetal development because it contains key nutrients like folic acid (folic acid specifically is so important, you should consume 400 mcg of it daily if you’re of childbearing age—even if you’re not trying to get pregnant!).
Taking a prenatal has been has been linked to a number of potential benefits for baby, including reduced risk of
- cleft palate
- neural tube defects
- defects of the cardiovascular or urinary systems
- limb deformities
Zinc is an important nutrient for the health of the immune system, which can sometimes weaken with age. You’re probably already consuming zinc-rich foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. But zinc levels also tend to decrease with age, and supplementation can be helpful to restore healthy levels.
Take note: pregnant and lactating women, as well as those on a plant-based diet, are at greater risk of zinc inadequacy.
Omega-3 fatty acids
There are two things that we know for sure about omega-3s: we need them in our diet, and low levels are associated with various health problems. These essential fats are used by the body to moderate inflammation, lubricate tissues, repair cell membranes and support nerve and cardiovascular health. For pregnant women and new mothers, adequate omega-3 intake is key for baby’s development.
People on plant-based diets tend to consume less DHA and EPA via food, so supplementation can be an extra-smart choice. Most omega-3 supplements are sourced from fish oil, but vegan sources are also available.