Many of us strive for a clear complexion, luscious hair and a fit, healthy body. Some search for the best organic ingredients in the products they buy, while others simply try to eat as healthy as they can and exercise daily. We read fitness magazines, go to the gym and even look towards nutritionists in order to live a healthy lifestyle. However, the most simple health advice that is not normally pushed upon American women is taking your vitamins.
It seems like an obvious way to stay healthy, but according to the Huffington Post, only less than half of the U.S. population take their multivitamins, and a big chunk of that number are women who are 60 and older. In a national survey, results stated people who take vitamins have good incomes, are educated, eat well and already get the nutrients they need from their diets.
“It’s almost like the people who are taking them aren’t the people who need them,” said Regan Bailey, a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Institutes of Health.
While it is advisable to eat a variety of healthful foods, it can be difficult to ensure complete nutrition from food. Unless you have a balanced diet 100 percent of the time, which is highly unlikely, you are probably lacking in the vitamins you need.
What vitamins do we need?
Often found in carrots, sweet potatoes and green peppers, this antioxidant is important for a strong immune system, healthy vision, and clear skin.
This B vitamin helps the body create new, healthy cells. While it is found in dark green vegetables, legumes, bread, pasta and citrus fruit juice, taking a supplement as well never hurts.
This is a highly effective antioxidant and helps support a strong immune system. You can easily find this vitamin in different types of foods: citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, green peppers etc.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, taking this supplement is very important, as it is highest in meats, and is critical for the proper functioning of red blood cells. Iron is found in nuts and leafy vegetables, but only contains a small amount (also important for vegans is vitamin B12!)
Our bodies, especially in women, need calcium to prevent osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones. If you are lacking in dairy products, pair calcium pills with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption.
As stated above, this helps the body absorb calcium and is necessary for bone health. While some foods are fortified with it, it is mostly accessible through sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiencies are not uncommon, especially for those who do not have much sun exposure.
This antioxidant may help prevent damage to the body’s cells, and against serious diseases including heart disease and cancer (has yet to be proved by scientists). This vitamin is found in many foods, fats and oils (peanuts, eggs, fruits, green vegetables etc.) so it is not essential to take a supplement.
What supplements are the best to take?
Browsing the vitamin aisle can be a very confusing and difficult task, especially if you are unfamiliar in the supplement world. It is important to do plenty of research beforehand and talk to a pharmacist or your doctor before making a purchase.
According to Who What Wear magazine, Consumer Lab (the ultimate watchdog group of health and nutritional products) recently released an independent analysis on the leading brands of multivitamins. Surprisingly among the supplements that passed testing were inexpensive options.
- Nature’s Way Alive! Once Daily ($16)
- One A Day Women’s Formula ($10)
- Now Foods Eve Women’s Multivitamin ($15)
While supplements definitely have their perks, do not assume that you can get away with no exercise and stuffing your face with junk food because you took your morning vitamin. It is just as important, if not more, to stay active and eat wholesome foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You wouldn’t slack off at work because you showed up early to the office, so why would you be lazy to your body?
PLEASE NOTE: This Darling writer is not a medical professional. Always check with your doctor before ingesting anything (especially if you are pregnant, on medications, etc).
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