Men and women in their 20s and early 30s typically have a schedule that would make anyone’s head spin: work, school, exercise, social activities and the list goes on.
So who has time to think about health? At this stage of life though, making sure that your body is in balance can be essential to good health in later years.
Filling in the gaps
According to Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, HHC, integrative medicine nutritionist, vitamins and minerals are critical to health because they are important “co-factors” in countless reactions that happen in the body every day.
“Many of these vitamins and minerals are necessary for cells to generate energy, so they’re pretty important,” she says. “While no amount of supplements can compensate for an unhealthy diet, even the healthiest diets could have nutrient gaps.”
“Most women achieve peak bone mineral density in their 20s and 30s, meaning that these are the most important years to lay down minerals for strong and healthy bones. Vitamin D3 is a great supplement to take along with a bone mineral supplement, because that vitamin has been shown to be critical to bone health,” she says. “In fact, many bone mineral supplements have vitamin D3 included in the formulation.”
While many women focus on calcium to prevent osteoporosis in the future, Foroutan points out that calcium isn’t the only nutrient that helps to build healthy bones. “Magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin K2, strontium, zinc, copper and manganese, just to name a few, also play a role,” she says.
During this stage, many women are “gearing up for pregnancy, so that’s a critical time to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients needed during this exciting time,” says Foroutan. “While folic acid is important in preventing spina bifida, it’s also a critical nutrient in so many of our cells’ functions. We need folic acid to make neurotransmitters for brain health and mood balance, for proper detoxification, to generate cellular energy and for many other normal body functions,” she says. “But nutrients don’t work alone – they work together as a team, which is why it may be helpful to recommend a methylated b-complex or a multivitamin/multi-mineral with methylated B’s rather than folic acid alone.”
Ina Nozek, DC, MS, CN, Success Coach to chiropractors, nutritionists and healthcare practitioners, notes that the market now features some gender specific vitamins. In addition to multi-vitamins geared toward males, she recommends a supplement for prostate health. “Zinc and saw palmetto can be beneficial,” she says. However, if a man is not feeling well and suspects low testosterone, Nozek suggests seeking professional advice and undergoing some tests.
Keep it balanced
While taking supplements can help achieve a balanced system, Nozek points out that diet and lifestyle habits are also critical to maintaining good health. “Supplementation is good but you should also establish healthy practices. For instance, eating leafy greens provide folic acid,” she says. “You should also have a positive mindset, exercise regularly, hydrate and cleanse the body. Toxins hinder the body’s ability to assimilate vitamins.”
In some cases, reactions – adverse or otherwise – could occur when first taking a new supplement. “Some supplements have a strong effect. It may be difficult to discern whether the reaction is good or bad. You should check in with your health professional if you’re not sure and tune in to your body,” Nozek says. “Ideally, you want to feel energized, have mental clarity and a stable mood.”
Foroutan emphasizes that supplements should be third-party tested to ensure that the ingredients listed on the label are indeed the only ones in the product. “A supplement can’t work if it doesn’t have high quality ingredients,” she notes. “A nutrition professional with expertise in supplements can be a great partner in helping you to address things like energy, stress management, bone health, immune health and digestive health, even when you’re otherwise healthy.”