Choosing Supplements for Women Video

In this video series Dietician Deborah Jeffery will teach us how to select the right supplements for women.
Read the full transcript »

Deborah Jeffrey: Hi, I am Debbie Jeffrey. I am a Registered Licensed Dietitian. Today we are talking about dietary supplements and understanding their use for men and women. Right now, we are talking about vitamins and minerals that may be missing in a woman's diet and may need supplementation. The first thing is calcium. Probably you're aware of calcium's role in bone health and this is critical for women because as we age, we lose bone mass. So the recommended intake for women on calcium, women under 50 years of age is 1,000 milligrams and that recommendation increases to 1,200 milligrams for women over 50 years of age. Now what this equates to as far as food is three servings of milk or yogurt or other high calcium food a day. For women over 50, it's four servings of these foods. For many women, they just don't take in that much calcium. So supplementation can be done, the best supplements are either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate needs stomach acid to be absorbed and it's best taken with meals. But as we age, our stomach acid decreases, so for older women, calcium citrate might be a better choice. This doesn't require stomach acid to be, for the calcium to be absorbed and it doesn't have to be taken with pills. The downside for the calcium citrate is that it generally is more expensive. Now calcium, your body can only absorb so much at one time and generally that's about 500 milligrams of calcium at one time. So if you are taking multiple tablets throughout the day, you don't want to take them all at the same time, you need to space them out. Also calcium supplements do have some side effects. They can produce gas and constipation in some people. Another vitamin that many women need to supplement is vitamin D. You may be aware that your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb the calcium, so a lot of times the vitamin D is supplemented with the calcium in a tablet. Vitamin D is a little unusual in that the body can take sunlight and convert it into vitamin D and the recommendation there is for your hands, arms, face to be exposed without sunscreen for about 15 minutes, 2-3 times a week to get enough vitamin D. So if you don't go outside, if you don't take foods that are fortified with vitamin D, generally it's found in milk and some grain products, you may need a supplement. Like calcium, the requirement for vitamin D increases as women age. It increases when a woman get over 50 and then again when they get over 70 years of age. Another nutrient that women need if they are considering to be pregnant is folic acid. And this one is very important because folic acid can prevent some birth defects. Folic acid is needed for proper growth. When a woman becomes pregnant, very soon after conception, folic acid will help develop the neural tube which develops as into the baby's spinal cord and brain. This is the time when many women don't even realize they are pregnant, that's why it's important that anyone considering to be pregnant get enough folic acid in their diet. The recommendation is that any women of child bearing age take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. Iron is another mineral that women may need if they have heavy bleeding during times of their period, women may need to supplement with iron. Iron supplements are best taken on an empty stomach to get the best absorption, but for some women this causes stomach upset. So if needed, you want to take the supplement with meals or snacks. Now with iron supplements, you have to be very cautious to keep them out of reach of children because to children, high iron intake can be toxic and you don't want them accidentally taking the iron supplements. Next we'll be talking about vitamins and minerals supplements that men may need.

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