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8 of the best supplements for women’s health

YHL talks to the experts to find out the best vitamins, minerals and supplements to support women’s health

“Magnesium is one of the most essential minerals to support women and balance hormones,” says Marika Walker, a Registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in fertility and women’s health ( “Magnesium helps with energy levels, anxiety and depression and muscle cramps. It supports sleep and is important for bone health. If your diet is high in sugar, and you are very stressed, your body needs more magnesium. You get magnesium from dark leafy greens, seeds like flax, pumpkin, and chia, legumes like lentils, chickpeas and black beans, plus avocados and dark chocolate. The best supplemental form is magnesium glycinate. Magnesium glycinate (magnesium bound with glycine, a non-essential amino acid) is one of the most bioavailable and absorbable forms of magnesium, and the least likely to induce diarrhoea. A good amount to take is 375mg per day, but higher amounts up to about 600mg in divided dosages throughout the day are also safe.”

Vitamin B6
“Vitamin B6 plays a role in keeping your body’s hormones regulated,” says Marika Walker. “It has been used to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, including anxiety, depression and irritability. Researchers suspect that B6 helps with emotional symptoms related to PMS due to its role in creating neurotransmitters that regulate mood. It’s also important for your energy levels and functioning of your nervous system. B6 also supports progesterone levels and is, therefore, one of the vitamins which women who are trying to conceive should take. You get B6 from a variety of foods such as fish, chicken, tofu, pork, beef, sweet potatoes, bananas, potatoes, avocados, and pistachios. The best supplemental form is Pyridoxal-5’-phosphate – in short P5P – so look out for that in good quality supplements. Generally speaking, B vitamins should be taken together so go for a good quality B complex.”

“Zinc is often one of the unnoticed and unsung critical players in female health,” says Elizabeth Sergeant, a women’s health and performance coach and functional health practitioner ( “Involved in over 300 enzyme actions in the body, zinc plays a key role in our monthly menstrual cycle, fertility and detoxification processes. It is the most common mineral in the human body after iron, and an essential element to our body’s production of stress hormones and neurotransmitters (including feelgood serotonin and dopamine), thyroid function and our overall immune health. Food sources of zinc include red meat, seafood (especially oysters), liver, oats, pumpkin seeds and dairy products. But beware, some plant foods (such as leafy greens and pulses) can inhibit the absorption of zinc when consumed in the same meal. When supplementing with zinc, take it on a full stomach as it can cause nausea in some women when taken away from food. Also, as a quick PS, if you’re thinking of getting pregnant don’t forget your partner – zinc is also critical for healthy sperm!”

Vitamin B12
“Supplementation with B12 is widely recommended in female health because of its essential role in energy production, brain function and hormone metabolism,” says Elizabeth Sergeant. “B12 plays a critical role in how we break down and detoxify oestrogen – low levels of B12 are associated with PMS, low mood and other oestrogenic conditions. To make matters worse, B12 levels can be depleted from HRT and oral contraceptive use. We can’t make B12 inside our body, so we must include sources in our diet, with the only reliable sources of B12 being from animal-based products. Low B12 can arise if you are vegetarian or vegan, have low stomach acid (potentially from alcohol consumption or anti-acids) or gut health issues. As with all B vitamins, always supplement with a biologically active form of B12. There are three types available: methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and hydroxycobalamin, in various forms of administration from sublingual or capsules to IV. You may need to try a few products to find the right fit for your body.”

“Iron, which is actually a mineral, is a super important nutrient for women,” says Registered Nutritional Therapist Milena Mastroianni ( “It contributes to energy levels, immunity, thyroid health and brain health. The most important role of iron is supporting oxygen transport via our blood cells around the body and brain, which is why it’s often connected with energy and stamina. As women lose a lot of blood via menstruation each month, it’s crucial to keep replenishing this nutrient with iron-rich foods such as red meat, liver, eggs, chicken thighs, lentils, chickpeas, green veg, dried apricots and tofu.”

Vitamin D
“Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and keeps bones strong,” says Dr Louise Durrant, Nutrition Communications Manager with the British Nutrition Foundation. ( “It also helps muscles to function normally and the immune system to work as it should. During the summer months the majority of people will get most of their vitamin D through the action of sunlight on the skin; however, we cannot make vitamin D from sunlight during the winter months and so we rely on dietary sources. There are a limited number of foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D (such as oily fish, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and fat spreads). Therefore, the government recommends that all adults and children over four years should consider taking a daily 10µg (microgram) vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months to protect bone and muscle health. Those who are not able to go outside often, or who cover their skin while outside, and children aged 1-4 years old should take or be given a daily 10µg vitamin D supplement all year round, and those who have dark skin (including those from an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background) should also consider taking a daily supplement all year round.”

“Similarly to iron, folate is essential when it comes to red blood cell formation and energy,” says Milena Mastroianni. “The reason why folate is fundamental to women’s health is because it supports a critical mechanism in the body, called methylation. Methylation is implicated in cell reproduction and cell repair and it underpins pretty much all mechanisms in the body. Folate is particularly important for fertility and during pregnancy, and you may have heard it being called ‘folic acid’ before, which is not quite the same thing as folate found in food. When it comes to food sources for folate, think of the word ‘foliage’, so any green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, spring greens and lettuce will have lots of folate. This nutrient can also be found in many other foods including beetroot, broccoli, avocado and asparagus as well as pulses and sweetcorn, so it’s important to have a varied diet to ensure optimal levels of folate.”

“Iodine helps to make thyroid hormones,” says Dr Louise Durrant. “It also helps the brain to function normally. Food sources of iodine include milk, yogurt, cheese, fish, shellfish and eggs (and some fortified dairy alternative drinks). Adults need around 140µg (microgram) of iodine a day, and most people can get all the iodine they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. If considering taking an iodine supplement, the NHS do caution against taking too much for long periods of time as this could change the way your thyroid gland works. The NHS say that taking 0.5mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.”

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