This immunity-boosting combo of food and pills is the recipe for wellnessChances are, a significant amount of the food you eat today will have little nutritional value. Researchers from the City University of New York found that 28 per cent of the calories in the average woman's daily diet from junk food and fats, like those in butter or salad dressing. You might think the solution is top pop some vitamin pills, but taking supplements can't replace eating well, says Deborah Galuska, PhD, of the division of nutrition and physical activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Below are the eight key - plus the best food sources for them and guidelines on the right way to use supplements.
Why you need it:Even if you are just thinking about getting pregnant, be sure to stock up on this B vitamin. To prevent serious birth defects in a newborn, you must have adequate folic acid in your at the time of conception. Other benefits: Folic acid reduces blood levels of homocysteine - a substance linked to an increased risk of heart disease - and protect against anameia by helping the body make red blood cells.Daily dose: 200 microgams (mcg); 400 mcg if pregnant; 300 mcg if lactating.Best Sources: Examples of food that are high in folic acid include chicken liver, vegetables especially leafy greens, kidney beans and peas, says nutritionist Grace Seah of the Health Promotion Board (HPB). These foods supply at least 100 mcg of folic acid: 1 cup asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, fortified breakfast cereal, orange juice or spinach; 1/2 cup chickpeas or kidney beans; 1 small avocado.When to take a supplement:'women who could become pregnant should take 400 mcg of folic acid a day and eat lots of foods rich in this vitamin,: says Lindsay Allen, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of California. Moat multivitamins contain this amount.
Why you need it:It helps your body use food for energy, lowers homocysteine levels and plays a role in keeping skin zit-free. There's evidence that it fights depression too, and studies show that in high doses, B6 may help case PMS symptoms slightly.Daily dose:1.5 milligrams (mg)Best Sources:Examples of good sources are fish, poultry, beef, beans, nuts and fruits such as banana, advises Grace. These foods supply at least 0.5 mg per serving: 113 g halibut, yellowfin tuna, lean beef or pork loin; 85 g turkey breast, chicken breast or salmon; 1/2 cup chickpeas; 1 baked potato or medium banana.When to take a supplement:to fight PMS you need 50 to 100 mg a day, and you can't get that much from food, but don't go overboard. Having more than 2,000 mg a day for some months may cause debilitating nerve disorders and skin conditions.
Why you need it:Vitamin C not only promotes clear skin and quick healing but also fights germs and protects against heart disease, cancer and cataracts. It may even help keep you looking young as it is used to make collagen and elastin, which are both responsible for smooth, taut skin. Plus, it helps the body absorb iron.Daily dose:75 mg; 110 mg for smokers.Best sources:Grace says all fruit , especially guava, and citrus fruits such as orange and vegetables are good sources. These supply at least 75 mg per serving: 1 cup grapefruit juice, Brussels sprouts, papaya, orange juice or sliced strawberries; 1/2 cup sliced red pepper.When to take a supplement:Some experts recommend 250 mg of vitamin C a day for maximum benefit, but you can easily get this much from different foods. Despite the hype, there's still no good scientific evidence that higher amounts will fight colds or otherwise improve your health. In fact, if you take 2,000 mg or more a day, you might suffer bouts of diarrhoes.
Why you need it;Iron is used to make haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of your body. That's why a low iron intake can slow you down both physically - and may eventually lead to anaemia.Daily doses:19 mg for women until age 60:6 mg after that.Best sources:These foods supply at least 3 mg per serving: 113 g lean beef or shrimp; 1/2 cup fortified breakfast cereal, lentils, soy nuts or dried apricots; 3/4 cup firm tofu. "Iron from plant sources are not as well-absorbed as that from meats, but including vitamin C-rich foods like orange juice at meal times will enchance absorption of the iron," advise Grace.When to take a supplement:Check with your doctor before taking iron pills; even if you're tired, it may not be a result of an iron deficiency. The 10 to 18 mg of iron commonly found in vitamin-mineral combos is safe, however, and can offer extra insurance for pre-menopausal women who lose iron through menstruation. You don't need more than 10 mg iron after menopause.
Why you need it:In addition to its well-known bone-building role, calcium promotes heart by helping to regulate your heart beat and keep your blood pressure low. Also, studies show that calcium prevents PMS, helps reduce colon cancer risk and may even make it easier for women to lose weight. The Recommended Dietary Allowence (RDA) for an adult is 800 mg a day, yet the 1998 National Nutrition Survey in Singapore showed that over two-thirds of the adult population are not meeting this recommended intake.Daily dose:800 mg until age 50; 1,000 mg after that; 1,00 mg if you are pregnant or lactating.Best sources:According to the HPB good sources include soy products and small fish with edible bones such as sardines and ikan bilis. There are also calcium-fortified products (like soy bean milk, bread and noodles) available at supermarkets. These supply at least 300 mg per serving: 1 cup collard greens, low-fat yoghurt, skim milk or calcium-enriched fruit juice; 100 g sardines or salmon. canned, with bones; 42,5 g Parmesan or cheddar cheese.When to take a supplement:If you don't eat dairy or calcium-fortified foods, you can assume your daily diet has 300 to 400 mg calcium from other food sources, says Richard Wood, PhD, chief of the Mineral Bioavailability Lab at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. People in this group should take 1,000 mg of calcium a day in supplement form.
Why you need it:Like vitamin C, this immune builder defends against heart disease and cancer. It may help ward off Alzheimer's disease too.Daily dose:23 international units (23 IU or 15 mg)Best sources:Nuts, seeds, seed oils and safflower oil are good sources, says Grace. These foods supply at least 5 IU (3 mg) per serving: 2 tablespoons peanut butter; 28 g almonds; 7 g sunflower seeds.When to take a supplement:For most, taking pills that provde 100 to 400 IU a day is safe (if you are on blood thinners, you should check with your doctor first), but the proof of a benefit isn't definitive. In choosing a supplement, pick natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol). It's pricier than the synthetic kind (dl-alpha tocopherol), but studies show that the body retains the natural form better.
Why you need it:Without the mineral you couldn't more a muscle - including your heart muscle - or convert carbohydrates into energy. Plus, magnesium is involved in regulating blood pressure and in keeping calcium in bones, so it helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis.Daily dos: 320 mgBest Sources: These foods supply at least 100 mg per serving of magnesium; 1.25 cups brown rice or spinach pasta; 1 cup lima beans; 2/3 cup spinach; 3/4 cup tofu; 1/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts; 1/2 cup soy nuts; 1/4 cup sunflower seeds.When to take a supplement;If you eat lots of wholegrains and beans, you don't need magnesium supplement. If not, look for a multivitamin that contain about 100 mg of magnesium.
Why you need it:Zinc helps keel your immune and reproductive systems in top shape and plays a role in healing wounds. A deficiency can lead to acne and an impaired sense of taste. Some experts believe that zinc has antioxidant properties, and may help fight heart disease and cancer.Daily dose:12 mgBest sources:These foods supply at least 4 mg per serving: 85 g lean beef or veal; 1/2 cup pork, bean, or tofu; 1 small oyster; 1 large tin of sardines with bonesWhen to take a supplement:If you tend to skimp on zinc-rich foods, take a multivitamin. It usually contains 4 mg of zinc - all the extra that most women need. Studies suggesr that zinc throat lozenges, which contain 5 to 10 mg zinc, may reduce the duration of a head cold, but the result are not all conclusive.