What are the best supplements for a woman to take?

What are the best vitamin/mineral supplements for a woman to take?

Question:
Michael Roizen, M.D.
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Michael Roizen, M.D.

As chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Michael F. Roizen, MD, is on a mission to inform... Read more

I get asked this question all the time, and I always recommend my “Fab5” combo of vitamins and supplements, which includes:
 

  • Probiotics: These are great for gastrointestinal health and are associated with a decreased infection and inflammation rate.
     
  • Vitamin D3: Essentially, D is calcium’s best friend because without it, calcium has a really tough time being absorbed into your bones. Even better, making sure you have optimal levels of D is associated with decreased risk of memory loss, heart and vascular disease, and cancer rates. (Pop your D with a healthy fat, such as a DHA supplement, or with a meal that includes olive oil or avocado, for instance. D is absorbed only in the presence of fat.)
     
  • Calcium/Magnesium: Calcium is also associated with a decreased risk of death from bone fractures. But taking calcium alone can cause much constipation and bloating, so that’s why I always recommend taking magnesium along with it. In addition to a whole range of benefits, including maintaining muscle and nerve function and supporting the immune system, this mineral also helps keep things moving along in your intestines at a nice, steady pace.
     
  • DHA: This omega-3 superstar is linked with decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes. DHA also supports memory and vision. The Memory Improvement with DHA Study (MIDAS) showed that 900 mg a day given to those 60 and over resulted in a three-year reversal of memory loss. If you’re pregnant, DHA is critical for your baby’s brain and eye development; there’s also some evidence that this omega-3 may protect against postpartum depression. (The Fab5 formulation contains 600 mg of DHA, but pregnant women and us older folk will want to make sure to get at least 900 mg from a combination of food sources and supplements. (That’s 600 mg a day from supplements and 16 ounces, or two 3-ounce portions, of salmon a week.)
     
  • Multivitamin: Nobody’s diet is perfect, so think of a daily multi -- one that you divide in two; take half the pill in the a.m. and the other half in the p.m. -- as an insurance policy for that imperfect diet. A multi includes vitamins and minerals essential for wellness, such as pantothenic acid , B6, B12 and niacin, which you might not get in your daily food in adequate amounts and which help to support cardiovascular, eye and nerve health. Most women who are still menstruating or are pregnant will want added iron as well. Talk to your ob/gyn about how much you should get.
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