Your Instagram feed is inundated with ads for superfoods and female-focused supplements, all of which promise that you’re just a scoop or personalized pill away from living your best life. Could the claims be true? Before you start clicking “shop now,” consider the following vitamins and supplements — you’ll find them all at your local pharmacy or big box store — to help your digestion, amp up your energy, and give you skin clearer than Insta’s best filter.
Probiotics aid in digestion by promoting gut health and fighting off bad bacteria. Not only have probiotics been proven to help with irritable bowel syndrome, which is most common in women, but studies have also shown they may help to improve mental, heart, and bone health; help yeast and urinary tract infections; and according to one study, inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
There's currently no recommended dose of probiotics, but choose a brand with varying strains or add yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented foods to your diet.
While probiotics add good bacteria to your gut, prebiotics fuel the existing bacteria in your digestive system. Prebiotics have been proven to reduce allergy risk and inflammation, improve the immune system, increase calcium absorption, and potentially even lower the risk of certain infections and cancers. There’s no recommended dosage of prebiotics, but you can find them in supplement form or in foods like walnuts, dark chocolate, leeks, lentils, apples, and oats.
Women tend to be low in iron stores, losing iron through periods, pregnancy, and nursing. Iron aids in the production of red blood cells and supports immune function, cell growth, and cognitive development. Low iron levels can lead to fatigue, brain fog, decreased immunity, and even thinning hair.
The NIH recommends getting 18 mg of iron daily. If you're pregnant, increase that to 27 mg, and lower it to 9 mg if you’re nursing. Find iron in supplement form or in dark-green leafy vegetables, lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, cereals, beans, and whole grains. Consuming vitamin C with iron helps your body absorb the mineral.
Magnesium helps us maintain normal muscle, nerve function, and blood sugar levels and also supports heart health and our immune systems, but studies have shown that the vast majority of us are not meeting our recommended daily intake. Low levels can lead to muscle cramps, insomnia, mood swings, and increased risk of heart disease.
Try for 310 to 320 mg a day, depending on your age, 350 to 360 mg if you’re pregnant, according to the NIH. Find magnesium in a supplement or in green vegetables like okra, some beans, nuts, seeds, and unrefined whole grains.
Biotin helps our bodies form fatty acids and energy-producing blood sugars and helps metabolize amino acids and carbohydrates. Low levels can lead to hair loss and brittle nails. The NIH recommends that women 19 and older get 30 mcg of biotin daily. Up it to 35 mcg if you’re breastfeeding. You can find biotin in supplement form or in cauliflower, sweet potatoes, raspberries, almonds, avocado, seeds, eggs, milk, and grains.
As we age, our bodies’ ability to produce collagen lessens, causing decreased skin elasticity and all those fun new wrinkles. When we consume collagen supplements, usually in powder or pill form, our body breaks down the collagen into amino acids, which it then circulates in the bloodstream, creating new collagen production and improving signs of aging.
Collagen supplements can also improve the tissue within our bodies, helping with ligaments, tendons, joints, and bones. There’s no recommended daily dosage of collagen, but mixing a scoop into your smoothie or a glass of water might just keep those wrinkles at bay for a while longer.Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels