In a recent survey conducted by Rakuten Insight in Malaysia during July 2022, the findings were clear: 55% of respondents had chosen to incorporate dietary supplements into their daily routines. These supplements, encompassing herbal, mineral, or vitamin elements, were selected to complement their diets and enhance overall health.
Should All women take multivitamins?
In the midst of the growing trend in dietary supplement usage, a pertinent question emerges: should women of all ages prioritise multivitamins? While a definitive answer may elude us, experts advocate for a “real food-first” approach. Although certain populations might not necessitate additional supplementation when their nutrient needs are met through a balanced diet, there exist situations where supplementing proves advantageous—especially for women navigating distinct life transitions.
Nurturing Nutritional Needs Across Life Stages:
Pregnant and Lactating Women
Women traversing these pivotal stages necessitate heightened nutrients to cater to both their own well-being and the developing life within them. Vital nutrients during pregnancy and breastfeeding encompass:
Folic Acid (Folate) :
Folic acid is considered the most important nutrient during pregnancy. It helps in brain and nervous system development and prevent neural tube defects in the foetus. It is recommended to take folic acid 2-3 months before pregnancy. For pregnant women, the recommended dose is higher, which is 600 mcg, while for lactating women is 500 mcg per day. (RNI Malaysia)
Iron is essential in producing haemoglobin, which is an protein in red blood cell. During pregnancy, the mother’s iron requirement is doubled than others to make more blood for the baby. In anaemic women, higher doses of iron are required to prevent the risk of premature birth.
DHA (Omega 3) :
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is a type of Omega fat. It helps in babay’s brain and eyes development. However, there is no recommended intake for Malaysian. It is recommended to consume fish like salmon, tuna, sardine, ikan kembong or anchovies regularly to obtain adequate DHA.
Iodine is crucial for thyroid function and brain development in baby. Recommended iodine intake is 200 mcg per day, which you can obtain from iodised salt, seafood, or seaweed.
Zinc is required for growth and development and support immune system. During pregnancy, zinc becomes even more important as it needs to support both the mother and the developing fetus. Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can lead to complications, including difficulties during labour, low birth weight and premature delivery.
Vitamin K :
Vitamin K is important for the production of clotting factors in the blood, which help in proper blood clotting. Vitamin K deficiency may lead to haemorrage (excessive bleeding) in both the mother and the baby. Besides, adequate vitamin K intake also important in supporting the developments of baby’s bone and teeth.
Pregnant and Lactating Women
As women age and go through menopause, they face hormone changes and reduced appetite. Supplements can help protect against age-related issues. Key supplements for postmenopausal women include:
After menopause, women are at an increased risk of bone loss and osteoporosis due to hormonal changes that can lead to decreased bone density. Calcium requirement is increase to support the bone health. Besides, calcium absorption declined with age, which is why calcium needs increase by 200mg per day (to 1000 mg) for women over 51 years old.
Vitamin D :
Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining strong and healthy bones. It also helps the body to absorb calcium. Older adults tend to have lower vitamin D levels as they spend most of their time indoor.
Magnesium works alongside with calcium and vitamin D in promoting bone health. Besides, Insomnia and sleep disturbances can be more common during and after menopause. Magnesium promotes relaxation and can aid in improving sleep quality.
Vitamin B12 :
Vitamin B12 is essential for converting food into energy. Maintaining adequate B12 level can help combat feelings of fatigue and promote vitality. Besides, vitamin B12 is linked to mood regulation and mental well-being. Ensuring sufficient B12 intake can contribute to emotional balance.
Coenzyme Q10 (C0Q10) :
ACoQ10 is a vital component of the energy production process in cells. It helps to maintain overall vitality. Besides, postmenopausal women may experience increased oxidative stress due to hormonal changes and aging. CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant in protecting the cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals.
Choosing Supplements Wisely
- Certification: Look for certified products to ensure quality and safety.
- Reading Labels: Always read labels for allergens and ingredients.
- Consulting Professionals: Talk to healthcare providers before trying new supplements to get personalized advice and avoid potential risks.
Key Take Away
Incorporating dietary supplements can be beneficial during different life stages for women. While a balanced diet is essential, supplements can provide extra support during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postmenopause. Being informed about specific nutrient needs and seeking professional advice can help women make the right choices for their health.