Jennifer Nevels, NMD, instructor in the women's integrative medicine department at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
In addition to a daily multivitamin and calcium supplement that includes calcium citrate, boron, vitamin D and magnesium, Nevels recommends omega-3 fatty acids because they reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help stabilize bone density and decrease the severity of menstrual cramps. Nevels, who is 28, takes 1.5 grams of fish oil twice a day. Also on the list: a calcium allotment of 1,000 milligrams a day. Because the body can only absorb so much calcium at once, you need to spread it out. "I empty a packet into water and drink it twice a day," Nevels says. "It helps with energy, stress and colds."
Bottom line: While the majority of vitamins and nutrients should come from a healthful diet, most Americans do not get what they need from their food choices. Hence, it's always prudent to take a multivitamin. Generic store brands that carry the USP-approved label (USP stands for U.S. Pharmacopeia) are a cheap and safe choice. Since calcium is bulky, multivitamins only carry a small amount, so all women should also take a separate calcium supplement. And if you're going to pop one other pill, make it your omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can be found in fish oil supplements. Talk with your doctor to assess which other supplements might be right for you.