Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge and written by Dr. Ryan Dickerson.
What are the Best Vitamin Supplements for Women?
Moms want to do what’s best for their health. When juggling priorities like family, work, friends, and other obligations, it is easy to get so busy that their nutrition suffers. For this reason, many moms turn to vitamin supplements to fill in the gaps. Vitamin supplements come in many forms, including gummy vitamins, capsules and chewable pills.
About Vitamin Supplements
The supplement industry is a billion-dollar industry, and some claims about vitamin supplements are not supported by legitimate medical evidence. While there may be some positive benefits to taking vitamins, the average woman doesn’t need vitamin supplements. When it comes to improving your overall health, there are no supplements that can replace good nutrition and overall health and wellness.
Vitamin supplements can be too much of a good thing. There is research that shows that vitamin supplements can make you worse off. For example, Vitamin E supplements, once thought to protect the heart, were later shown to increase the risk of heart failure, prostate cancer and death from any cause when taken in high doses. In fact, many vitamins taken in large doses will cause harm. Too much supplemental calcium can cause kidney stones and may increase the risk of heart disease.
The Best Way to Get Vitamins
The best way to get the complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals you need is to eat a balanced diet. This means your diet should be full of plant-based foods like dark leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, colorful bell peppers, yellow squash, eggplants, melons, apples, bananas, mixed berries and other fruits and vegetables. Not to mention beans and nuts! There isn’t a single vitamin supplement in existence that will make up holes in your diet. There simply is no way for scientists to reproduce the positive effects of good food consumed daily. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain chemicals called phytonutrients that work together in ways that we do not fully understand to keep our bodies functioning properly. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a rainbow of colors on your plate.
Try to incorporate a vegetable or fruit into every meal and try a variety to keep things interesting. This doesn’t mean you have to eat a salad every day! Consider including raw, roasted, sautéed, or baked vegetables as a side item or snack. Consider a homemade meal-replacement smoothie filled with fruits, vegetables, and some protein and grains (like peanut butter and quinoa) for busy days. Weekly meal prep is also something to consider to accommodate your busy schedule. It may be easier to cook several days’ worth of meals at once and instead of trying to prepare a new meal every day.
It is important to talk to your primary care physician about the supplements that you are considering or currently consuming. In some cases, your doctor may suggest or prescribe certain vitamins for you, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A daily multivitamin may be helpful for filling in gaps in a diet that is not as complete as it should be. For example, a doctor may prescribe folic acid to help prevent birth defects during pregnancy. Others who may need supplements are those with anemia, a history of weight loss surgery or specific vitamin deficiencies.
That said, generally speaking, you should try to take small steps to improve your overall health including getting enough rest, gradually improving your diet, starting a fitness routine that works for your schedule and body, and maintaining good mental health.
About the Author
Ryan Dickerson, MD currently practices at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare in Baton Rouge. Ryan Dickerson, MD currently practices at Louisiana Women’s Healthcare in Baton Rouge. Dr. Ryan Dickerson, OB/GYN graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans in 2002. He then went on to complete his residency at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Dickerson is interested in all aspects of obstetrics and gynecology. His passions include delivering babies and assisting infertile couples. He also specializes in using robotics, which increases the ability to remove uterine fibroids and surgically treat other gynecologic conditions without significant incisions. Dr. Dickerson serves as a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is a member of the Louisiana State Medical Society. In his free time, Dr. Dickerson enjoys spending time with his wife, a dermatologist, and their two children.