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Are you doing it all? Wonderwomen should know this!

We all know women are the undeniable experts of multitasking and modern-day lifestyle which means that often they have to juggle many different roles. Women have become the masters of ‘doing it all’: working; taking care of the family, their relationships and themselves. Often, their health is classified as low priority on their list of ‘things to do’. Its Women’s Month and we’d just like to take a moment to encourage all women to look after themselves too. We have put together what we believe to be the top 5 supplements to support the health of a woman:

Calcium

Calcium supplementation isn’t something you start when osteopenia hits – you should have started earlier!  For women under 50 years of age and particularly for women under 35, a good quality calcium supplement is recommended for bone health. This is because until we reach around the age of 35, women are still able to build bone mass and in order to build strong bones while we are young, we need to make sure that we are giving our body enough raw materials to accomplish this. Many of us get calcium daily from foods such as dairy, cheese, nuts, some vegetables and meats.

But almost all of us are getting only 1/2 to 2/3’s the recommended amount. This is where a calcium supplement containing not more than 500mg of elemental calcium becomes beneficial. If you don’t build up strong bones early in life with nutrition and physical activity, you will naturally begin to lose bone mass every decade by the time you reach your 40’s, which often results in osteoporosis. The majority of supplements contain 500mg of calcium and 600IU of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a major role in the absorption of active calcium, so it is often included in calcium supplements. A calcium supplement should be taken with food, making it is easier to absorb.

Iron

Iron is equally important for men and women, but women are at higher risk of iron deficiency due to menstruation. Women should work with their doctor to carefully monitor iron levels. It is surprisingly easy to be iron deficient and quite difficult to replenish iron loss with a meat-based diet, so this is where supplementation comes in. One of the main roles of iron is to help our red blood cells transport oxygen to all parts of the body. Iron also plays an important role in specific processes within your cells that produce energy. Therefore, one of the first symptoms of low body iron levels is tiredness and fatigue.

How much iron you need daily depends on your age, gender, and pregnancy status. For example, women need more iron before menopause due to menstruation, as well as during pregnancy due to the iron requirements of growing a baby. Iron supplements can cause side effects; usually stomach upset, such as nauseavomitingdiarrhoea or constipation. To curb side effects in the stomach you can take your supplement with a little bit of food. Taking iron together with foods that contain vitamin C will increase iron absorption from the stomach. Milk, calcium and antacids should NOT be taken at the same time as iron supplements. You should wait at least 2 hours after having these foods before taking your iron supplements.

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Most experts recommend that we eat at least 3 servings of oily fish a week to obtain the proper amount of omega 3 that is needed to maintain health. Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done. Omega 3 fats contain two very important fatty acids called DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are vital for the body. In particular, they play a role in heart health, brain health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Omega 3 is very good for the cardio vascular system because it helps to reduce inflammation in the vessels and may balance blood fats. There are so many benefits to taking fish oil and considering it doesn’t cost much to get a high-quality fish oil supplement, you really can’t go wrong!

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins are a very important group of water soluble nutrients. They are abundantly found in fruits like berries and foods such as whole grains. However, Vitamin B-12 is mainly contained in meat products. Because B vitamins are water soluble, they do not get stored in the fatty tissues of the body and must be consumed daily as part of our diets to meet the body’s requirements.

B vitamins play a critical role in cell metabolism in the body. They help our bodies to utilise nutrients from foods to produce energy, increase neurotransmitter activity in the brain, help prevent anaemia, improve red blood cell quality and are essential for proper nerve function and serotonin production. Typically, people who are deficient in B vitamins will show signs of fatigue, lack of mental focus, poor circulation and can have symptoms of depression and slow metabolism.

With all the benefits of regular intake of B vitamins, it makes sense to include a B complex supplement in our daily routine.

Probiotics

For women, probiotics can be particularly useful when treating once-off vaginal infections, recurring vaginal infections, and gut irritability (bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhoea).The term probiotics is a general one. The names of specific intestinal bacteria can be confusing because there are so many different types. For example, lactobacillus refers to a genus of bacteria that consists of many species, including L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and L. casei.

Intestinal bacteria contribute to our health in numerous ways, and probiotic supplements support these functions. They help us digest food and also make small amounts of some vitamins. They protect against infectious bacteria. Intestinal bacteria secrete peptides (protein-like substances) that help maintain our immune activity and defences against a wide range of threats. Probiotics are often used for the following: antibiotic-related diarrhoea, infectious diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and vaginal infections.

Probiotic supplements may contain one or several species of beneficial bacteria. Product potency – that is the number of bacteria per capsule – is based on the day of manufacture and specific manufacturing process. Take probiotics at the end of a meal to buffer the bacteria-killing effect of stomach acid. Probiotics are often used during antibiotic therapy. A rule of thumb is to take your probiotic 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking your antibiotic. This gives sufficient time for the antibiotic to work while not killing off the beneficial bacteria that will be replaced by the probiotic.

Wonderwoman has a shield and sword to protect her whilst she fights for a good cause … and so should you. Invest in yourself and your health; talk to a Mopani Pharmacist about the best supplementation for your lifestyle now.

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