It’s no secret that women and men have different nutritional needs. In fact, it always boggles my mind when I hear doctors (especially cardiologists) recommending nutrients at the same dosages for women as they do for men. That’s why I feel it’s important for me to let women know which nutrients they should take.
Here are the top 10 supplements I recommend for women—along with my recommended dosages for optimal heart health and overall wellness.
- Astaxanthin: I like to refer to astaxanthin as the “wonder antioxidant.” That’s because its remarkable antioxidant properties benefit everything from your skin to your eyes to your brain, and everything in between! This rare carotenoid helps fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress throughout your body. You can only get astaxanthin through your diet or by supplementation, since your body doesn’t naturally produce it.
Recommended dosage for women: 6 to 12 mg
- Calcium: Calcium does so much for a woman’s body, including the most well-known benefit of supporting bone health, which is especially important after menopause. But it’s also essential for healthy teeth. And there’s also evidence that calcium can help your mood and even your sleep, when used in combination with magnesium. Plus, research suggests that calcium supplementation for women can also promote normal blood pressure.
It used to be that doctors recommended high dosages of calcium, but research shows that too much calcium can promote a buildup of calcium throughout your body, ultimately disrupting your body’s normal processes. That’s why I recommended a lower dosage and eating foods that naturally contain calcium, such as green leafy vegetables, tofu, low-fat cheeses, and skim or 1-percent milk, in addition to an overall healthy diet and regular exercise.
Recommended dosage for women: 200 to 400 mg
- CoQ10: When it comes to a woman’s heart health, I consider coenzyme Q10 to be a “first responder” for your heart. This all-essential nutrient feeds your mitochondria, which are the “energy factories” inside each of your cells. And they help spark the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which fuels your entire body. Since levels of CoQ10 for women (and men too) naturally decline with age, it’s vital that you supplement with it daily. Adding a daily dose of CoQ10 to your supplement regimen helps with:
• Improved energy
• Powerful antioxidant properties
• Support for important heart health markers: blood pressure, cholesterol
• Replenishing the CoQ10 you naturally lose with age and while taking statin medications
There are two types of CoQ10, ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is the same form that your body makes naturally, and because of this it is the more expensive form. Although, I’ve yet to see evidence that it is the BEST form of CoQ10. The truth is that both forms are beneficial; it just comes down to cost and how much you want to spend. This is why I use the ubiquinone form in my CoQ10 supplements.
Recommended dosage for women: For good heart health: 50 to 100 mg. If you are on any heart medications or need extra support: 100 to 300 mg
- Omega 3s: For years I’ve raved about the benefits of omega-3s for women, epecially when it comes to your heart. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the best things women can take to benefit heart, brain, eye, lung, and skin health. It’s also important to get omega-3s in your diet from the foods you eat. Foods such as wild caught salmon and other cold-water fish, as well as walnuts and flaxseed.
Recommended dosage for women: For good heart health: 1 to 2 g. For an extra boost of heart health support: 2 to 3 g
- Magnesium: I like to refer to magnesium as the “unsung hero.” That’s because it’s one of the most valuable minerals your body needs for a properly functioning cardiovascular system! I suggest taking a broad-spectrum magnesium supplement, which features a combination of forms. I also recommend taking forms that are highly absorbable, so that your body can better absorb it and use it throughout your body.
The four forms of magnesium I recommend are: orotate, citrate, glycinate, and taurinate. The orotate form, in particular, has been demonstrated in Australian studies to most effectively increase the production of ATP—which is an energy producer for your entire body.
Recommended dosage for women: 200 to 400 mg of a broad-spectrum complex
- Vitamin E: There are many benefits of vitamin E for women, including helping to prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol and thinning the blood, as well as helping to keep your arteries healthy and improving vascular tone. Plus, vitamin E also works to help support vision and protect your lungs from environmental toxins. And, one Italian study showed how taking vitamin E along with vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid promoted better skin hydration.
For vitamin E to be most effective, it’s important to take it with antioxidants like CoQ10 and vitamin C.
Recommended dosage for women: 100 to 200 mg
- Vitamin D: The essential “sunshine nutrient” every woman should be taking, vitamin D plays a part in so many processes throughout a woman’s body. And while you can soak up vitamin D from the sun, most of us don’t get enough of it, especially during the winter months. Plus, if you live in an area where you have more grey days than sunny, it’s especially important to make sure you’re getting your daily dose.
Recommended dosage: 2,000 to 3,000 IU
- Folic acid: Folic acid is a B vitamin that is naturally produced in your body and is essential for making new healthy cells. Foods such as oranges, leafy greens, and beans all provide natural sources of folate, which can help improve your blood pressure, and ultimately your cardiac event risk. But, research shows that women who relied on getting their folate from dietary sources did not experience the same benefit as those taking folic acid supplements.
Recommended dosage for women: 400 to 600 mcg
- Vitamin C: One of the most popular vitamins and essential nutrients, vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants a woman can take for her heart and overall health. While you may already reach for it to boost immune health, this powerful antioxidant does so much more! It promotes bone health, joint health, and can even help delay the onset of cataracts by 10 years! Of course, as a cardiologist, I believe one of vitamin C’s most important roles is supporting your heart, as it:
• Enhances the body’s level of natural glutathione, a free-radical scavenger that promotes healthy arteries
• Strengthens blood vessel walls
• Increases the availability of nitric oxide, which helps to improve vasodilation—the ability of the heart’s arteries to widen
Recommended dosage for women: 1,000 mg
- Iron: One of the essential minerals that your body naturally produces, iron is needed for stimulating the production of hemoglobin, the red blood cell pigment that carries oxygen to our cells. But if you are approaching menopause or already in menopause, you probably don’t need to supplement with iron because it can lead to an overabundance of this mineral.
While iron is vital to every woman’s health, you can also run the risk of having too much or too little iron. That’s why I recommend asking your doctor to perform a special iron test called serum ferritin. If your doctor finds that supplementation is necessary, follow his or her recommendations.
Recommended dosage for women: Supplement dosage depends on your doctor’s assessment. To get more iron from your diet, include iron-rich foods such as organic red meats, poultry, and fish.
5 Easy Tips for Taking Pills
I know I’ve just given you a long list of supplements that may seem a bit daunting to add to your existing supplement regimen. And I know lots of women have trouble taking pills and it tends to get more difficult the older we get. Here are 5 tips to help your supplements go down a bit easier:
- Take a few sips of water before taking your vitamins.
- Tip your head forward with your chin down. The pill will float to the back of your mouth, as your throat opens—making swallowing a cinch.
- Use a water bottle. Keep your lips pursed and attached to the bottle, using a sucking action to drink. Your throat will automatically open, followed by the natural urge to swallow.
- Take one pill at a time. It is easier on both your throat and esophagus.
- Swallow using cold water or juice. Hot beverages can cause trouble in swallowing pills, making them disintegrate or become sticky.
There you have it, my top 10 list of supplements that I believe every woman should be taking. Remember, the key to maintaining a healthy heart and overall wellness is putting in the work today, to keep you healthy well into the future. Combining these top supplements for women with a heart healthy diet and regular exercise will help keep you feeling your best, and ultimately keep your heart happy.