You may have heard people raving about vitamins and people telling you that you shouldn’t take any at all. Of course, like most things, most nutritionists would probably agree that taking vitamins is just fine when taken in moderation.
Nutrition expert Jennifer Neily MS, RD, CSSD, LD suggests the top vitamins you should try to take daily include a multivitamin, calcium, vitamin D, and while technically not a vitamin – an omega 3 supplement.
Neily suggest choosing a multivitamin that is specifically for women, especially if they’re premenopausal. This is because it can help replenish the iron we lose each moth through menstruation. It is important to keep up your level of iron, because it is what helps carry oxygen in the blood by way of hemoblogin. While there has been some research done on the effectiveness of multivitamins and the results have shown that these vitamins may not be very effective, Neily says she disagrees.
“I look at the nutrition analysis of my clients and consistently see that NO ONE, myself included-as healthy as I eat, receives 100% of the dietary reference intakes through diet alone,” Neily said. “I have looked at thousands of nutrition analyses over the course of my career and will continue to recommend a multivitamin.”
For most women, Neily also recommends taking a calcium supplement daily. You need to take this in addition to a multivitamin because no multivitamins will have the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium. You can get your RDA of calcium in the form of calcium supplement pill or a nutrition bar or drink that has high levels of calcium. Neily says it can be hard to choose a calcium supplement because there are tons of different options out there and calcium should be paired with vitamin D.
“Look for either calcium citrate or calcium carbonate,” Neily says. “My preference is the citrate form for a few reasons; it’s the best absorbed in the body and does not need to be taken with food.”
Also keep in mind that our bodies can only absorb about 500mg, so if you get a supplement that is higher than that, it is really a waste. Also make sure to not take a calcium supplement of 500mg with dairy which are excellent sources of calcium – again, because we can only absorb about 500mg. Neily says she has found that in the diet histories she has seen in her work as a registered dietician, most women only get somewhere around 400 to 600mg of calcium from food per day. Most women need about 1000mg to 1200mg, depending on their age.
While we can get vitamin D from various foods, there aren’t many that contain enough to make a difference, so it is important to take a supplement daily. Aside from it being necessary for proper calcium absorption, research has also found other interesting facts about this important vitamin. Neily points out that research has begun to find a connection in low vitamin D levels and risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Make sure to take it in the vitamin D3 form.
“More doctors are starting to measure vitamin D levels, just like they might check blood glucose or cholesterol.” Neily says. “At your next visit ask to have your levels checked.”
While omega 3s aren’t really vitamins, Neily says they can be pretty important to take as a daily supplement. Unfortunately, many people get confused when it comes to choosing an omega 3 supplement as there are so many fish oil, EPA and DHA products on the market. Neily says your doctor might suggest that you take a 1000mg fish oil daily, but they don’t tell you specifically that you need 1000mg of EPA and DHA, which are the important components of an omega 3 or fish oil supplement, and not all of them contain these two fatty acids. Although good sources of omega 3, plant sources like flax and walnuts do not contain EPA and DHA.
Research has found that EPA and DHA keeps people healthy and at low risk for heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends consuming at least 500mg of EPA and DHA per day. More if you have heart disease or high triglycerides. Neily personally takes 1000mg of EPA/DHA per day.
To learn more about nutrition from Jennifer Neily, visit http://www.jenniferneily.com/.