Studies show that most Americans don't get enough nutrients from food alone. Everyone knows there are tremendous health benefits of eating fruits and veggies, but the truth is, most people fall short — even when they're trying. That's because certain key nutrients are hard to find in the convenience foods so many people rely on, and our busy lives can make it hard to eat high-quality whole foods every day of the week.
That's where a good dietary supplement (or a few) comes into play. Supplementing your diet with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and healthy proteins can help you reach your nutritional goals. The best supplements for women support the female reproductive cycle, bone health, hair, skin, nail health and gut health, cardiovascular system. Let's dive into the details of the best supplements for women's health.
Cover Your Bases with a High-Quality Multivitamin
Get into the habit of taking a daily multivitamin. It might seem basic, but a daily multi is a good way to make sure you're getting a baseline of essential nutrients every day.
Quick refresher: "Essential" means your body can't make the nutrient itself. Not everything inside your vitamin bottle is essential, but a lot of it is, whether you get it from a balanced diet or your multivitamin.
While people of all genders need the same essential vitamins and minerals, the best multivitamins for women have more iron, calcium, and vitamin D, and slightly less vitamin A, E, and K than a multi made for men.
Women tend to need more iron if they haven't yet reached menopause. That's because women lose iron during their monthly period, pregnancy, and nursing.
During the fertile years of a woman's life, the recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for iron increase. This is even more so the case when a woman is pregnant. The RDA for iron in women from age 14 to 18 is 15 mg per day. Then, it jumps up to 18 mg per day from age 19 to 50 years old and back down to 8 mg per day after age 50.
Bone density in women declines more quickly in women as they age, so a good multi should also have calcium and vitamin D. Calcium helps build the bone while vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. (Taking your calcium supplement with food also helps with absorption.)
Women also tend to need lower levels of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K than men. This difference is mainly based on body mass/size, so outliers (extra small men or large women) should talk to their doctors about their individual needs.
Pregnant and Nursing Mamas
If you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or thinking about getting pregnant, a prenatal vitamin is your go-to multi. Pregnant women and nursing mamas need more folic acid (folate), iodine, and calcium than other humans.
That's because folic acid helps build DNA in a growing fetus and newborn and can prevent birth defects. Iodine ensures healthy thyroid and neural development for the fetus and newborn without sapping from the mother's thyroid. The additional calcium helps protect the mother from "developing hypertensive disorders" during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about taking iron supplements while pregnant.
This might seem like TMI if you're nowhere near ready to get preggo, but we can assure you that it's good information to have, even if the closest you ever want to get to pregnancy is helping your BFF pick out the best vitamins for her baby bump.
Get Your Glow On
Sure, you care about how you look (don't we all?), but healthy hair, skin, and nails isn't just about vanity. Rather, what's happening on the outside can be a pretty good reflection of what's happening on the inside. If you have brittle nails, hair breakage, and dull skin, chances are you're missing some key nutrients in your diet that could lead to bigger health concerns. Here are a few suggestions to focus on that can help far beyond what you see on the outside.
Collagen is a type of protein that your body makes. In fact, it's the most abundant protein in your body, and it's one of the main ingredients for making healthy hair, skin, nails, bones, connective tissue, organ tissue, and even muscle. The amino acids in collagen aren't essential, but they're really helpful to keep consuming as you age.
Your ability to produce it slowly declines, starting in your mid-20s. It's never too soon to add a collagen boost to your diet. The easiest way to get more collagen into your diet is to grab our Glow Getter Collagen and add it to your morning or post-workout smoothie.
Vitamin C is required for your body to make collagen. No vitamin C, no collagen. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, which means your body doesn't hang onto it if you eat or drink a whole bunch of it at once. So it's important to get enough every single day.
Food sources of vitamin C include fruits and veggies, like oranges, bell peppers, kiwi, kale, strawberries, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts (just to name a few), but it's still a good idea to supplement to make sure you get enough every day.
Vitamin C is also a great antioxidant and immune system booster, especially if you're fighting a respiratory infection. Stock up for flu season.
Another nutrient that will help you glow it up is vitamin A. This nutrient is probably most famous as an ingredient in dermatology prescriptions like Retin-A (topical) and Accutane (oral). That's because retinoids (a form of vitamin A) can help clear your skin of acne. But topical retinoids also help rejuvenate aging skin by increasing your production of ... drumroll please ... collagen! It all leads back to collagen, doesn't it?
A vitamin A dietary supplement is a good idea if you're a vegetarian or vegan, as the most bioavailable forms of it come from animal products. You can get a good mix of vitamin A and vitamin C, along with B vitamins (biotin and vitamin B12) and a few other beneficial nutrients in Cira's No Filter.
If everyone was properly hydrated, you wouldn't see wellness coaches and fitness experts on the ‘Gram promoting #30daywaterchallenge(s) and touting the benefits of drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day. The truth is, most Americans don't drink enough water and are therefore chronically dehydrated. A U.S.-based study quoted in “The New York Post” says, "2,000 people ... found just 22 percent drink the USDA recommended eight to 10 glasses a day."
There were multiple reasons cited for why people don't drink enough water, but one of them was that they didn't like the taste of water. Adding flavored electrolytes to your water is a good way to make the most out of the water you're drinking and even encourage you to drink more.
Taking electrolytes is especially important if you're active or sweating a lot throughout your day. Cira's Glow-Getter Hydration features more vitamin C, calcium chelate, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and taurine. Drop it into your next glass of water to keep your body and your skin hydrated.
As a bonus, magnesium can also help protect against heart disease, relieve constipation, and help you get a good night's sleep, and calcium (along with vitamin D) can help improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Eat More Bugs
Ok ok, we don't mean you need to start hunting down the creepy crawlies in your backyard. We're talking about probiotics, the microscopic bugs that live in your gut. Most probiotics on the market include bacterial strains that start with the words lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. A good probiotic for women includes strains that support digestive health and vaginal flora.
Gimme an O(mega)!
Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation is by now a pretty well-known thing. It's anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and a great way to nourish your brain and cardiovascular system. However, omega 3s can also help control autoimmune diseases like lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Fish oil is probably the most common (and effective) way to get your daily EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), but if you're a vegetarian, you can get ALA (alpha-linolenic acid, another form of omega 3 that converts to EPA and DHA) from flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and chia seeds. And you can also find DHA in sea algae capsules.
The best food sources of omega-3 are smaller fish like sardines because they're the least likely to have any sort of bioaccumulated toxins (like mercury).
Get More Sunshine
We've saved the best for last. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. “Cira” means sun, so we're a little partial to this awesome nutrient, which you can make in your skin with sun exposure. The problem is the balancing act between healthy sun exposure and sunburn. Not to mention the fact that most people work inside all day with no good opportunity to go outside and soak up the rays.
That's why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that most adults get at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day. There are two forms of vitamin D, D2 and D3. Look for vitamin D3 for your daily D boost, as it seems to be the preferred type of D for keeping blood levels high.
Best Supplements for Women
So there you have it: the best supplements for women who want to stay healthy and fit, sleep well, and look their best. We recommend starting with a multivitamin for women before adding vitamins that are already in your daily blend, but you might want a boost of the vitamins we called out by name on top of what a one-a-day has to offer.
Enjoy your collagen-rich smoothie in the morning or after a workout, and add an electrolyte packet to your water bottle, especially if you're hitting the gym. Get those good bugs in your gut, and toss back some fish oil soft gels.If you're curious about what else you might need to give your overall health a boost, take our quiz to find out.