We live in the era of the rise of the “SUPERWOMAN", where "superhumans" and doing it all are being praised and applauded.
The role of a woman has extended far beyond the kitchen. Women today, are now capable of having demanding, high flying careers while fulfilling the roles of a mother and a wife at the same time.
Let’s not forget that stay-home mothers may even be working twice as hard due to the increased pressure from society for children to excel in every way imaginable - from sports to musical talents and expert linguistic skills. The role of a mother has now expanded from a home maker to an event organiser (birthday parties / playdates), human resource manager (hiring domestic help / tutors), driver and the list goes on. Forbes USA 2011 has cited that stay-home mothers should earn at least $115,000USD a year, which makes for an interesting read.
The role of being a multi-tasking woman everywhere is increasingly being recognised — whether you are holding your own in a highly competitive corporate environment, or you're a full-time mother, or a single entrepreneur juggling relationships with your partner, friends and family. However, taking on multiple roles can take a lot out of us and more energy than we might have...
When you are constantly under pressure at work or overcoming life's challenges, you do need to invest & take care of yourself to not only ensure that you can give your best everyday; but also, to not fall prey to stress or exhaustion.
You need to consider having a plan so you can continue down whichever path you choose with energy and longevity, instead burning out.
Dietary supplements can come in to play at this point. People often seek dietary supplements to improve vitality, boost immunity, ease illnesses, defy signs of ageing or to reduce their risks of chronic conditions such as cancer and heart diseases. So this raises the question, ‘Do I need supplements?’ followed by “What supplements should I take?”
Do I need supplements?
The answer to this question is: a ‘yes’ or ’no’ is not the same for everybody. It depends on the well-being of the person in general; for example if you are deficient in, or unable to absorb specific vitamins or minerals into your system.
However, certain groups of people will most likely benefit from dietary supplements. This includes pregnant women and those trying to conceive. A typical prescription is 400mcg of folic acid/day for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the child’s risk of neural tube defect; children aged 6 months to 5 years may benefit from vitamins A, C and D supplementation; and elderly aged 65 or older, people of darker skin and who do not get exposed much to the sun are advised to take vitamin D supplements for bones & teeth development and support.
Do note that dietary supplementation should never be a substitute for a well-balanced and varied diet. Our body is able to absorb vital minerals and vitamins through a healthy diet of starchy food, such as rice, bread, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, protein from meat sources, dairy products and beans.
What Supplements Should I Take?
Vitamin C has been long known as a popular remedy for cold and flu. The National Institute Health USA reports that although Vitamin C may not reduce your risk of catching a cold, it may reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms. The European Union recommends a standard daily intake of 80mg of Vitamin C per day. Vitamin C can be found from a wide variety of food sources too, including citrus fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes & broccoli.
Most Vitamin C supplements come in the standard dosage of 1g a day, with research showing that there is no increase in effectiveness of Vitamin C in higher doses of more than 1g/day. The daily dose of 1g/day may be useful for people undergoing constant physical stress such as CrossFit trainers and marathon runners to reduce their risk of catching a cold.
Zinc has been increasingly popular among healthcare professionals recently as research has favoured the benefits of zinc. A trace mineral in our body for growth also has a ‘defensive mechanism’ to boost the body’s immune system. Taking zinc lozenges or syrup within 24 hours of cold symptoms may significantly reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.
Fish Oil, commonly known as the food for our brains. This is the most commonly taken supplement by adults and children to improve concentration, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and eye disease. The benefits of fish oil has been extended across several health conditions over the years. They are required for the general well-being of an individual. This may be largely due to the fact that our body cannot produce Omega-3’s fatty acid. It is an essential fatty acid that can be easily obtained from fish oil supplements or having a diet of at least two portions of oily fish per week. Oily fish may just as well be a superfood altogether. If you’re pregnant or have blood clotting issues, ensure that you speak to your doctor or pharmacist for recommendations of a reputable & quality fish oil supplement that is safe to take.
Probiotics are the “good” and “friendly” bacteria found in food and supplements that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms in the human gut to promote a healthy intestinal flora. They are particularly useful for antibiotic-associated diarrhoea — if you’ve been on a course of antibiotics for a cold or infection, it may be useful to take a probiotic together with it.
It also helps alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — a common digestive issue that plagues the younger population especially women, who get it twice as often as men and people who are under constant duress. However, there is no concrete evidence that one bacteria is better than the other, so the beneficial effects from one probiotic may vary from one to another.
As with all supplements, it is recommended that you seek professional medical advice to ensure that you are making an informed decision with regard to the benefits and side effects of the supplements that you will be taking vs. costs.
Article contributed by Kitty Lo, Pharmacist and Co-founder of Greenseer International. Any opinions presented in this article are of the writer's own.