A Guide to Supplements That Support Women’s Health
Women currently make up slightly less than half of the global population and they are embracing self-focus and taking control of their health like never before. Broad-based general health solutions aren’t cutting it anymore in the market as these empowered women are demanding tailor-made gender- or condition-specific women’s health support supplements.
So, what does this mean for supplement brand owners?
Dietary supplement brands must understand that a woman’s health and wellness needs go beyond daily multivitamins or pre and post-natal vitamins and minerals. This is an opportunity to make a mark in the supplement market with natural supplements focused on women.
The purpose of this guide is to provide supplement brand owners with insights and information to capitalize on this opportunity and develop high quality dietary supplements designed to meet women’s health and wellness needs.
Understanding What Impacts Women’s Health
Women cope with several gender-specific physiological and psychological changes over time. Similarly, the nutritional requirements for women also vary from early teenage to pregnancy and further during their post-menopausal stages.
Nutritional deficiency, excessive estrogen production, and fertility problems are some of the factors that may affect a woman’s health. According to a WHO study, 40 percent of pregnant women aged 15-49 years suffer from anemia or the lack of healthy red blood cells.[i] The National Health Interview Survey, 2019, found that 15.6% of women in the USA have fair or poor health.[ii]
In fact, some of the health concerns that affect men and women can impact women differently than men.[iii] Asthma-like symptoms, for example, are more common in women. Changing hormones levels, pregnancy, and menopause can also affect women’s health. Research also shows that UTIs are 14 times more frequent in women than men because a woman’s urethra is shorter.[iv] [v]
Today, the primary focus on women’s health revolves around mitigating physical and mental health risks through a nutrient-rich diet, regular screenings, and educating women about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What Are the Most Common Women’s Health Issues?
About 80 percent of women from the United States in the 40 to 60 age group have one or more risk factors for coronary heart disease , while poverty-affected regions carry a greater risk of malnutrition.[vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x]
Women worldwide remain at risk for the following health issues:
Menstruation problems can range from irregular periods and cramps to pre-menstruation syndrome (PMS) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). More than 90 percent of women experience some premenstrual symptoms , while PCOS affects about 5 million American women of reproductive age.[xi] [xii]
Heavy menstrual bleeding is another common issue that affects 10 million women in America every year. This issue may lead to weakness, fatigue, and even anemia in severe cases.[xiii]
Autoimmune disorders refer to a class of diseases where cells that provide immunity start attacking healthy cells in the body.
About 80% of individuals with autoimmune diseases are women. This can be partly because women have two X chromosomes that hold several immune system-related genes.[xiv] These disorders may lead to chronic conditions like fatigue, weakening of bones, and digestive tract infections.
Most autoimmune disorders generally affect women during periods of extensive stress, such as pregnancy or significant hormonal changes.[xv]
Mental Health Issues
Women are more prone to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and somatic complaints than men. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide in women under 60.[vi]
Perinatal and postpartum depression during pregnancy and after childbirth puts the health of the mother and baby at risk.[xvi] Perimenopause or the transition towards menopause also increases the vulnerability to depression.[xvii]
1 in 4 women in the United States dies from heart disease, making it the leading cause of death in the country.[ix] Lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, smoking, or unhealthy eating habits can aggravate heart disorders in women.
Along with general aging issues like age-related cognitive decline, women face a greater risk of substance abuse and poor health.[vi] Menopause can also lead to osteoporosis or the weakening of bones.[xviii]
Essential Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Women’s Health
Dietary and lifestyle changes can do much to help reduce risk for many women’s health issues. Fibers, vitamins, and minerals make up a major part of the recommended dietary allowance for women. Dietary supplements tailored to close common nutrition gaps in women help ensure adequate key micronutrients for them.[xix]
Here are some of the vitamins and minerals that supplement brands must focus on for women and their specific optimal nutritional needs:
The eight B Vitamins and Vitamin C are water-soluble. Since the body cannot store these vitamins, they need to be continuously replenished via food or dietary supplements.
Let’s look at the vital functions of these vitamins and why the body needs them.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Thiamine helps metabolize food to provide energy and maintain optimum cellular functions. Women may encounter thiamine deficiency during their pregnancy or if they’re taking long-term diuretic medication.
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Riboflavin helps convert nutrients into energy and assists in the growth and development of body cells. Vitamin B2 deficiency may occur in pregnant and lactating women, women with eating disorders, and older women.[xx]
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Niacin helps maintain critical cellular systems like the nervous system, enzymatic reactions, and energy production systems in the body. Although niacin deficiency is rare in the United States, women with poor eating habits or a lack of protein intake are at risk.[xxi]
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Pantothenic acid or Vitamin B5 aids in the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, synthesis of fatty acids, and formation of neurotransmitters and hormones.[xxii]
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Pyridoxine is an antioxidant that aids in the formation of red blood cells in the body. It also supports neurotransmitter synthesis and immune functions. Obesity and autoimmune disorders may lead to pyridoxine deficiency in women.[xxiii]
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): Biotin helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates, thus helping release energy for bodily functions. Vitamin B7 also helps regulate oxidative stresses. Excessive use of alcohol, pregnancy, and medications can put women at risk of biotin deficiency.[xxiv]
- Vitamin B9 (folate): Folic acid or folate plays a vital role in producing red blood cells, DNA, RNA, and neurotransmitters. It also assists in controlling homocysteine levels essential for healthy heart function and protein metabolism. Malnutrition, malabsorption, pregnancy, hemolytic anemia, and dialysis can cause B9 deficiency in women.[xxv]
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): B12 helps maintain the nervous system’s health, forms genetic materials like DNA, and enables the production of red blood cells. Women with inadequate dietary intake, pre-existing medical conditions, and malabsorption problems risk cobalamin deficiency (can happen when vitamin B12 levels drop so below the body’s requirement).[xxvi] [xxvii]
Benefits of Vitamin B supplements: In general, B vitamins support energy production and help the body effectively manage stress. Aging women, vegans, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and women with poor dietary habits may require Vitamin B supplements to support metabolism and enzymatic reactions in the body.[xxviii] Typical Vitamin B supplements contain all eight B vitamins along with choline and inositol.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Vitamin C helps in collagen synthesis, essential for healthy bones, muscles, and other connective tissues. It is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body and promotes healthy immune function. A deficiency of Vitamin C may occur due to environmental stress, smoking, food allergies, eating disorders, and pregnancy.[xxix]
Benefits of Vitamin C Supplements: Supplementation with 500 mg of Vitamin C daily has been shown to provide significant benefits for the immune system. Vitamin C requirements for women can range from 75 mg to 120 mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Supplements can help women meet these requirements to maintain a healthy immune system, skin health, and prevent deficiency symptoms.[xxx]
The recommended daily intake values of these important vitamins for women are as follows:
The body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins, along with fats in the diet, and stores them for some time in the liver and the body's fatty tissue. Vitamins A, D, E, and K constitute fat-soluble vitamins.
- Vitamin A (retinol): Vitamin A helps the eyes adjust to natural light, thus maintaining healthy vision. Additionally, it also assists in fetal development, cell growth, and healthy immune functions. Inadequate nutrition and disorders like cystic fibrosis may lead to retinol deficiency.[xxxiii]
Benefits of Vitamin A Supplements: Vitamin A supplements consist of carotenoids like beta-carotene, which are plant-based precursors of Vitamin A. These supplements can provide anywhere between 30-200 % Retinol Activity Equivalent (RAE) of a woman’s recommended daily intake. Adequate Vitamin A can promote healthy vision, prevent oxidative stress, and assist in healthy cellular growth.[xxxiv] [xxxiii]
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for the effective absorption and maintenance of calcium and phosphorus. Although Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone health, insulin production, and immune functions, it is one of the most commonly deficient vitamins in women. Research estimates that almost 50 percent population worldwide suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.[xxxv] Malabsorption, malnutrition, decreased sun exposure, and chronic disorders are the most common deficiency causes.[xxxvi]
Benefits of Vitamin D Supplements: As women age, they require higher amounts of Vitamin D to maintain critical bone functions and prevent deficiency conditions. Vitamin D supplements contain lanolin, fish oils, or algae oil (for vegans) that help maintain bone health and immune functions.[xxxvii] [lxiv]
- Vitamin E (tocopherol): Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that promotes cellular communication, blood vessel functions, and immunity. Autoimmune disorders and malabsorption of fats put women at risk of tocopherol deficiency.[xxxviii] This deficiency can lead to nerve and muscle damage, resulting in mobility or vision issues.
Benefits of Vitamin E Supplements: Vitamin E supplements are beneficial for the skin and may support wound healing.[xxxix]
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K is vital for normal blood clotting, bone health, and protein synthesis. A deficiency may occur in women with certain genetic conditions, inadequate dietary intake, or drug interactions.[xl]
Benefits of Vitamin K Supplements: Vitamin K supplements, although less commonly used, can help maintain healthy cognitive, bone, and heart health.
Here’s the recommended daily intake of fat-soluble vitamins for women:
Although adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals for women is possible through a healthy and well-balanced diet, it can be difficult for some women to get all the desired vitamins through food. Hence many women turn to dietary supplements for a healthy lifestyle.
Other Essential Dietary Supplements for Women
- Folate: Women need 400 mcg of folic acid or folate every day, and diet alone can be insufficient to meet their needs.[xlii] Folic acid deficiency in pregnant women may lead to anemia and congenital disabilities in babies.[xliii] Experts recommend that every woman take folic acid supplements even if they’re not pregnant to prevent any risk during pregnancy.[xlii]
- Magnesium: Magnesium requirements for women increase from 240 mg at 13 years to 320 mg at 50+ ages and 400 mg for pregnant women. The current daily value for magnesium is 420 mg for adults. Supplements can help meet these requirements. Being a co-factor in more than 300 enzyme systems, magnesium aids in protein synthesis, supports muscle and nerve function, combats fatigue, and supports healthy blood pressure.[xliv] [xlv]
- Iron: Iron supplements help maintain a healthy production of red blood cells and reduce the probability of developing symptoms like anemia, tiredness, and shortness of breath due to lack of hemoglobin.[xlvi] [xlvii]Iron deficiency is more likely in women than men due to blood loss during the menstrual cycle.
- Zinc: Our bodies do not naturally produce zinc. Hence it is essential to obtain adequate levels of zinc daily through diet and supplements. Zinc supplements may contain zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate with varying percentages of elemental zinc. For instance, a 220 mg dosage of zinc sulfate supplement provides about 50 mg of elemental zinc. Zinc catalyzes enzyme and DNA synthesis supports women’s immune functions, and helps in maintaining normal fetal growth and development in pregnant women.[xlviii]
- Multivitamins: Multivitamins typically provide a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and other nutraceuticals to help support health and wellbeing.
- Coq10: Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is an important nutraceutical for energy production in the body. As women age, CoQ10 levels in the body tend to reduce.[xlix] CoQ10 supplementation can support the body in combating oxidative stress, promoting healthy-looking skin, and improving muscle performance during exercise.[l] [li][lii]
- Collagen: Collagens are the most abundant proteins, forming the major component of connective tissues in bones, muscles, and skin.[liii] Supplementing collagen can improve skin structure and support healthy bones. High-quality collagen supplements have been shown to reduce the appearance of dry skin and wrinkles, support hair and nail growth, and promote healthy bones.[liv] [lv] [lvi]
- Fiber: Fibers are essential for women’s heart health as they help promote satiety (and thereby reduce overeating) as well as help reduce the absorption of cholesterol and some saturated fats.[lvii] Fiber supplements generally include inulin, methylcellulose, psyllium, and wheat dextrin that help ensure adequate fiber intake.[lxvi]
- Calcium: Women need about 1000-1300 mg of calcium per day for strong bones and teeth, muscle movement, and nervous functions. Additionally, calcium supplements support women’s health by maintaining optimum blood flow, hormonal regulation, and enzymatic actions.[lviii] Calcium tablets and capsules often provide anywhere between 150 to 1300 mg of calcium per serving, helping women meet their daily requirements.[lix]
Importance of Daily Supplements for Women’s Health
Aging can affect metabolism and consequently the absorption of nutrients.
Sociocultural factors like ethnicity and the elimination of certain food groups may cause severe vitamin deficiency in women. Autoimmune disorders and pre-existing conditions like obesity or diabetes further put women at risk of malabsorption of vitamins. Additionally, women who smoke, consume excessive alcohol, or rely on prescription drugs may risk nutrient deficiency.[lx]
Therefore, these women may require dietary supplements to maintain optimal health levels and support critical bodily functions. Doctors may also advise pregnant and lactating women to take prenatal supplements to maintain healthy nutrient levels and post-natal recovery.
Probiotics for Women
Probiotics are healthy bacteria and other microorganisms that provide immense health benefits when consumed. Yogurt, buttermilk, and other fermented foods are rich sources of probiotics for women. If they’re lactose intolerant or averse to fermented food, they can find several probiotic supplements for women that provide immense health benefits.[lxi]
Unlike harmful germs, a probiotic for women’s health may improve digestion and support immune function.[lxii]
Additionally, research suggests several vaginal health benefits of probiotics for women. There are more than 50 strains of bacteria that thrive in the vaginal area, so, maintaining a healthy balance of friendly bacteria can support vaginal health.
Women’s Health Supplements-Market Trends
As supplement manufacturing industries are becoming inclusive of women’s needs and addressing gender-specific issues, the market for women’s health supplements is booming. Industry reports estimate that the value of the Global Women’s Health and Beauty Supplements Market size was about $50.7 million in 2020. Market researchers also expect the market for women’s health and beauty supplements to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.10 % and reach $85.5 million by 2026.[lxiii]
Women have specific health needs and addressing these health requirements through supplement manufacturing can be a profitable venture.
How Can NutraScience Labs Help?
With over 120 years of industry experience, the staff at NutraScience Labs has provided over 2,300 new and existing dietary supplement companies with comprehensive nutraceutical manufacturing, packaging, label design, and order fulfillment solutions. With manufacturing minimums starting at only 1,500 bottles, we can custom manufacture all the women’s health supplements discussed in this guide in state-of-the-art cGMP and ISO Certified laboratories located throughout the United States.
Ready to learn how we can help you create and bring a high-quality women’s dietary supplement product to the market quickly and efficiently? Call 855-492-7388 to speak to one of our representatives or send us your request to receive a free supplement manufacturing price quote.