From calcium to probiotics, these supplements are rich in health benefits. Learn how to add them to your daily routine
In an ideal world, no one would ever have a nutrient deficiency and we’d get all our vitamins and minerals from the rich, varied whole foods we eat. However, between special dietary needs, health conditions, time of year, time of month and so on, many women may need to consider adding a supplement to their regimen.
Among the most popular, a few key supplements stand out above the rest. Always talk to your doc before popping any pill, but once you do, here are some common, beneficial daily dietary additions that may help fill in your nutritional gaps.
A lot of people think of calcium as a supplement for older age, but it’s not: women start losing bone density in their twenties. Especially if you’re not a big dairy person (or you’re a vegan), you might want to consider a supplement. To keep bones, teeth, and muscles strong, and keep your nervous system functioning properly, make sure to get 1,000 mg of this mineral everyday. (Calcium is one of the 7 Nutrients That Help Increase Muscle Tone.)
Take: GNC Calcium Plus 1000. Three caplets daily also provides 800 mg of immune-bolstering Vitamin D and muscle-regulating magnesium.
Since our primary source of Vitamin D is the good ol’ sun, most of us don’t get enough of this nutrient—especially in the winter. Essential for immune function and potentially protective against diabetes and some cancers, Vitamin D is also key for absorbing that oh-so-important calcium that strengthens bones. While 1,000 IU per day should be the bare minimum you’re consuming, active women need closer to 2,000 IU for peak muscle functioning.
Take: GNC Vitamin D-3 2000 IU. One capsule per day provides 2,000 IU, an ample dose of D.
Iron is super-essential for keeping energy levels high, maintaining a healthy immune system, and helping your body regulate temperature. If you don’t pump up this mineral, your red blood cell production may slow, leading to anemia. Since women lose iron through menstruation, it’s easy to be deficient, especially if you’ve got a heavier flow.
Take: GNC Gentlesorb Iron; Iron has a reputation for being a bit tough on the digestive system, but one daily capsule of Gentlesorb provides the recommended dose of 18 mg.
Probiotics are big right now, and for good reason. Getting enough of both major classes of probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, helps keep the flora of your GI tract healthy for a laundry list of perks: improved digestion, fewer bad bacteria, less bloat, boosted immunity, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptom relief. Yogurt, kefir, and other dairy products contain probiotics, but if you don’t eat much of these foods, you could be missing out on big benefits. (Probiotics are also one of our 14 Super Smoothie Boosters.)
Take: GNC Ultra 25 Probiotic Complex with Enzymes; Take one capsule per day with food to improve your digestive health.
If you're looking for a daily dose of nutrition in one pill, choosing the right multivitamin is essential. The best ones on the market tackle the most common vitamin and mineral needs in women—from iron to calcium, B vitamins to folic acid—for heart-disease protection, energy, immunity, strong bones, and reproductive health, among other benefits.
Take: GNC Women’s Ultra Mega; one capsule a day for full-body benefits.