After having my second child I felt completely drained and my immune system didn’t seem to be working very well. I would get any illness going around and it would knock me out for a couple of weeks. I had a hard time recovering from my workouts and my periods were intense. I had never felt so rundown. I decided to get some blood work done to have my levels checked. The results showed I was low in vitamin D and iron. I was still taking a prenatal multi-vitamin but obviously it wasn’t working.
Why was my multi not cutting it? Well, research is starting to show multivitamins are not effective. Multivitamin manufacturers generally throw the top 24 vitamins and minerals in a single pill and market it to the public, but that’s not really how nutrition works. Some vitamins and minerals are best taken at night while some are best taken in the morning. Some vitamins and minerals are much more effective when taken with food and some on an empty stomach. Additionally, most multi-vitamins are poorly manufactured and sourced based on cheaper cost rather than quality ingredients.
With brand recommendation from my doctor and a local health food store, I found the top-rated vitamin D and iron supplements, started taking them, and began to feel a little better. But I knew there was more I needed to support my over-stressed, under-rested, baby-making system. I started looking for the best supplements for women, focusing on boosting the immune system, maintaining heart health, balancing hormones, and supporting mental well-being. Here are what I found to be the top 6 supplements to meet those needs:
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include fatigue, depression, weak bones, and frequent illness. Natural forms are made from cholesterol in the body in a reaction involving sunshine. Unfortunately, with our increasingly indoor lifestyles we are not getting enough sun to produce as much as we need. As many as 70% of women tested are low in levels of vitamin D. When taken along with zinc at the first sign of a cold the combination is known to reduce the severity and duration. Vitamin D is best taken in the morning with food. I take 5,000 IUs daily of Naturewise Vitamin D3.
Symptoms of zinc deficiency can be slow healing, digestive issues, acne or eczema, depression, lethargy, and anxiety. Zinc has been shown to reduce period cramps and improve mood. It is estimated that 25% of the world is deficient in zinc due to the composition of the modern diet and declining soil conditions. Zinc is best taken in the morning after food and should not be taken at the same time as calcium or iron because they can affect absorption. I take 15 mg per day of Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate.
Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency include easy bruising and heavy periods. Vitamin K2 has been shown to help with bone strength, prevent tooth decay, and protect against heart disease. It helps your body deposit calcium in your bones instead of arteries. I prefer Green Pasture Vitamin Oil blend because it includes concentrated butter oil which has naturally occurring vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as fermented cod liver oil that has heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. K2 is best taken with food containing fat. I take two capsules of Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Blend with lunch.
Signs of CoQ10 deficiency can be fatigue, muscle weakness, and chest pain. CoQ10 is an antioxidant and breaks down free radicals that can damage cells in the body. It helps convert food to energy. It promotes heart and brain health and has been shown to reduce heart disease. People have also noticed improvements with exercise induced asthma and migraine headaches when taking CoQ10. CoQ10 needs to be taken with food. I take 100 mg of Healthwise Naturals Ultimate CoQ10 Ubiquinol with lunch.
Signs of iron deficiency can include tiredness, irritability, hair loss and dizziness. Iron is an essential nutrient that carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Proper iron levels can improve brain function, help muscles stay strong, improve immune function, and improve sleep. Coffee, tea and dairy products adversely affect iron’s absorption. Iron also interferes with the absorption of zinc. Since most people drink coffee in the morning, iron is best taken the afternoon 30 minutes before eating. I like Floradix Liquid Iron and Vitamins. It contains iron, vitamins B2, B6, B12 and C all from plant sources. Plant-sourced iron can help avoid nausea associated with some other iron supplements. I take 15 ml of Floradix before dinner, only around my cycle now that I am not iron deficient.
Signs of magnesium deficiency can be poor sleep and anxiety. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body including muscle and nerve function and protein synthesis. Additionally, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D work together to help metabolize fat. The majority of people tested are magnesium deficient. The recommended dose is 315 mg per day. Magnesium is best taken at least 2 hours after eating. I take mine in the form of a yummy Natural Calm Magnesium raspberry lemonade drink before bed.
Now after taking these vitamins I rarely get sick and when I do I can kick it in a few days. My periods are shorter and lighter. I can recover from my workouts in a day or two no problem. I’ve also noticed improvements in my energy level, mood, and sleep. I’ve had multiple clients let me know how much better they feel shortly after beginning this vitamin regimen as well.
Of course it’s important to combine these recommended supplements with a nutritious diet for optimum health. And as with anything you are concerned about, feel free to check with your trusted healthcare provider before starting a new vitamin regimen.