Do you have a perfect diet? Despite our best intentions, many women fall short on key nutrients, especially during busy, stressful times. However, making sure that you obtain optimal levels of essential nutrients is not only important for short term wellness, but can also trim your risk of many serious health issues over time. And-since diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and auto-immune issues are still without a cure-prevention is vital.
Lay your nutritional foundation
A 2009 study in the Nutrition Journal found that 72% of doctors and 89% of nurses use dietary supplements daily and most also recommend them to their patients?with good reason. For effective protection, choose a high-potency, multi-vitamin/mineral formula that contains all essential nutrients and trace elements. Invest in quality, as cheaply made products may contain synthetic ingredients, fillers, and binders, and are often poorly absorbed as a result.
Bone up with calcium and friends
While women need at least 1,000-1,200 mg. of calcium each day,1 many of us get less than half of that through food. Nor does calcium work alone for bone health. Rather, it requires a large cast of players including vitamins A, C, E, D and K, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, folic acid, and more. Vitamin D is especially important for calcium absorption, to maintain calcium levels for bone to properly mineralize, and for bone growth/remodeling.2,3 The best calcium formulas will contain these important bone-building allies and more.
Get in the swim with omega-3s
By now, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Consuming at least a gram of DHA/EPA-rich fish oil daily?by eating at least 3 oz. of fish like salmon or mackerel and/or through fish oil capsules?is a powerful wellness tactic. Why? Research suggests that omega-3s help prevent heart attacks,4 minimize triglycerides,5 reduce blood pressure,6 combat depression,7 reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease,8 and help minimize disease promoting, chronic inflammation.9, 10
Boost your B’s
Does your daily multi-nutrient formula contain at least 400-600 mcg. of folic acid-with optimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12? If not, add this important vitamin combination, for your heart’s sake. These nutrients keep the amino acid homocysteine in check, which is considered an independent risk factor for heart disease as it can damage coronary arteries and promote blood clots. Homocysteine is linked not only to arterial disease, but dementia and Alzheimer’s as well.11
Shield your cells
If you’re exposed to daily stress, pollution, cigarette smoke, drugs/medications, fried foods, and sunlight, among other factors, you face a formidable adversary. This enemy-a free radical army-can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, immune-system decline, brain dysfunction, cataracts, and more.12 Fortunately, antioxidants-like vitamins C and E, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin E tocopherols, and alpha lipoic acid-effectively combat free radical damage. A high-quality, daily antioxidant supplement combined with the healthiest diet you can manage is a brilliant defense.
While there are other important supplements for women, incorporating these 5 into your daily regimen will pay big dividends now-and for many years to come.
2 Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010
3 Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158 prepared by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02.0021. AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007. [PubMed abstract]
4 Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25
5Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993 Jun 14;683:16-34
7 Encephale. 2003 Jan-Feb;29(1):49-58
8 Int J Dev Neurosci. 2000 Jul-Aug;18(4-5):383-99
9 Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Nov;6(6):461-7
10 Mini Rev Med Chem. 2004 Aug;4(6):659-6810
11 Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD004514