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A woman’s guide to supplements

YHL looks at the supplements women should consider taking at every age

The key to optimal health is a good, nutritious diet, but well-chosen supplements can help to support your wellbeing too. Here, we speak to the experts for their recommended vitamins, minerals and supplements for women to consume during each stage of life.

Teenage years

“The teenage years mark a period of amazing growth, second only to that of infancy, and all that growth demands nutrients,” says Belinda Blake, a registered nutritional therapist and clinic tutor for the Institute for Optimum Nutrition ( “Protein requirement increases yet may come at a time when many are experimenting with diet and perhaps eliminating animal products. It is therefore important to ensure good sources of plant-based protein and to avoid having too much high-energy food, such as high-sugar or fatty foods. Protein-rich plant foods like pulses, quinoa, nuts, seeds and tofu will help provide minerals like calcium for bone growth, plus magnesium and B vitamins to help support stress management and a smoother navigation through hormone changes, exams and teenage life. If animal foods have been eliminated, it is important to take in vitamin B12 through supplements or fortified foods, as this essential vitamin is not naturally available through a vegan diet.

Menstruation can increase requirement for iron, so including good food sources of this mineral (e.g., meat, fish, liver, eggs, lentils, tofu and green leafy vegetables), especially during or after menstruation, can help replace what is lost and prevent iron deficiency symptoms like fatigue and headaches. The omega-3 oils, found in oily fish, grass-fed meat, green leafy vegetables and hemp seeds may also help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Zinc is another common deficiency at this time as it is required for growth, development of the reproductive system, immune and brain function. Signs that might suggest low zinc include acne, white marks on more than one of the fingernails and an increased susceptibility to infections. A varied diet is key, but some well-chosen supplements may be helpful to support this period. A quality multivitamin and mineral alongside an omega-3 oil would provide a good starting point.”


“Women in their twenties are at ‘peak’ bone strength, so have the best opportunity to build lean muscle mass and strengthen their musculoskeletal system,” says Dr Federica Amati, nutritionist and Chief Nutrition Scientist for Indi Supplements ( “Typically, our bone density and ability to build lean muscle mass starts to decrease in our mid-thirties. It’s therefore a good idea to build muscle tone in our twenties, with a focus on eating calcium and quality protein-rich foods. This includes chickpeas and other beans and legumes, cauliflower, small fish like anchovies (where you eat the bones), nuts and seeds, good quality fermented dairy products and dark green leafy vegetables such as cavolo nero. Another nutrient to be aware of in our twenties is iron, as anaemia and iron deficiency can negatively impact our energy levels and our mental health and can be detrimental to our long-term health. It’s important that women of all ages, but especially those who are menstruating, ensure they are consuming enough iron-rich foods. This includes good quality meat, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens, beans and lentils. Women should also aim to achieve a good microbiome balance in their twenties. There are huge benefits to looking after our gut and vaginal microbiomes, with a diet rich in whole plants and probiotic foods, so it’s advantageous to get a good balance early on in life. A good pre and probiotic supplement can help with this, as well as avoiding eating too many ultra-processed, highly refined carbohydrates. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and smoking also negatively impacts our health and nutritional status, so it’s best to avoid both to look after our overall wellbeing.”


“With 1 in 10 couples struggling with infertility, it is something that should be on every young woman’s radar,” says Sandra Greenbank, a registered nutritional therapist and founder of the Fertility Nutrition Centre ( “Female fertility begins to gradually decline in our early thirties and by age 35 that decline becomes steeper still. Supplements that may help preserve egg health include zinc, CoQ10, omega-3, magnesium, N-Acetyl Cysteine, and B vitamins. However, supplements are no substitute for fertility preservation. If you are not yet ready to try for a baby, it is worth having a conversation with a clinic about freezing your eggs. A loss of bone density commonly begins when women are in their thirties and progresses as we age and gain weight, particularly for those with a family history of osteoporosis. To help prevent the condition, get plenty of weight-bearing exercise and take a daily vitamin D supplement.

“The majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer are between 35 and 44 so make sure those smears are kept up to date. With age, our oestrogen levels begin to decline. This can lead to hormonal imbalances which leads to drying skin, hair loss, urinary tract infections and a weaker pelvic floor. The B vitamins and vitamin D play an important role in oestrogen production, and the herbs chasteberry (vitex) and black cohosh have been traditionally used to boost the production of oestrogen.”


“In your forties it comes a time when hormones fluctuate more frequently,” says Dr Marion Gluck, menopause and hormone specialist and founder of the Marion Gluck Clinic ( “This is also known as perimenopause. This is when women transition into menopause and your reproductive hormones, including progesterone and oestrogen, start to decline. This leads to a rollercoaster of symptoms causing concern and uneasiness. So how can you feel like yourself again? Introducing regular exercise and eliminating excessive alcohol and caffeine can help improve your bone density, mood and weight loss. Most importantly, reducing stress and taking up relaxing activities can further alleviate your symptoms. Beside lifestyle changes, different dietary supplements can help you feel your best again. For example, magnesium supplements serve to support a healthy immune system whilst improving sleep quality and encouraging calmness. Disrupted sleep can not only demotivate you but can lead to an increased risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A way to help boost this is through serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with positive moods and sleep improvements. The dietary supplement 5-HTP is used to make serotonin in the body so adding 5-HTP can help regulate your mood, appetite and sleep. Other vitamins such as A, B, C and E help in reducing inflammation, increasing energy and supporting optimal brain activity, while omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for your skin, joints and mood.”


“Our bodies change as we age and so do our nutritional requirements,” says Dr Swamy Sannaveerappa, PhD in Food Science, Senior NPD Manager for Naturya superfoods ( “To sustain our life and good health, we need basic nutrients such as essential amino acids (proteins), fats (essential fatty acids), carbohydrates, several vitamins, and minerals. There is an increased requirement for nutrient-dense food for the ageing population and especially those 50-plus due to reduced mobility, lower nutrient absorption rate and lower metabolic rate. Women in their fifties need more of certain nutrients than in their younger years.

“This is due to reduced lean muscle mass, onset of sarcopenia, post-menopausal physiological changes, reduced bone density etc. As a result, women aged 50-plus need an increased amount of protein intake to maintain their muscle mass and to fight the onset of sarcopenia. Other key nutrients are as follows:

Magnesium is needed for bone health, proper muscle function, to fight tiredness and fatigue and improve energy levels.

Calcium is needed for bone health to maintain bone density. It helps the digestive enzymes, muscle function and energy levels.

Vitamin B6 is an important micronutrient to help with hormonal balance especially during the post-menopause period. Vitamin B6 helps lower levels of homocysteine and protects against cardiovascular disease. It also helps with energy levels, protein metabolism and immunity.

Vitamin D is an important micronutrient that aids in the absorption of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which help in bone health.

Fibre is very important as fibres have a prebiotic property and are known to help with regular bowl movement which is often a problem in 50-plus women.

”Apart from the above nutrients, a daily intake of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (Thiamin), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B12, vitamin K, folates and omega-3 fatty acids are highly beneficial for healthy ageing.”

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