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Women’s Health. By Our September Student Pharmacist, Sarah Mietz.

September is Women’s Health Month! This blog will focus on three important supplements for women: calcium, vitamin D, and folic acid. Remember to always talk with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new vitamins or supplements.



Calcium helps build strong bones, but do you know what else it does? Calcium helps our muscles to contract, blood to clot, and nerves to send messages. Every day, our body loses calcium, but cannot produce more. If we don’t get enough, our body takes it from our bones which can cause problems like osteoporosis.

Regardless of age, it’s important that you’re getting enough calcium. Sometimes it’s difficult to get calcium through diet (especially if you don’t eat dairy), so you may want to consider taking a supplement. Here are some recommendations for calcium:

  • Pregnancy: 1,000-1,500 mg per day
  • Age 50 and younger: 1,000 mg per day
  • 51 and older: 1,200 mg per day


Vitamin D

Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium. Without Vitamin D, calcium wouldn’t get taken up into your bones. Vitamin D is produced in response to sunlight, but did you know that a sunscreen as low as SPF 8 blocks its production by 95%? Vitamin D can be found in fatty fishes like tuna and salmon, but most people don’t get enough through diet alone. To promote healthy bones, you should get at least 600-800 IU a day. If you’re not already taking a supplement, you may want to consider adding one to your regimen. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are both great options.

Folic Acid

Folic Acid converts carbs into energy and allows our body to use fats and proteins. It is an important supplement to take if you are planning on becoming or might become pregnant. It helps prevent neural tube defects, which cause problems in the development of the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Studies show taking folic acid before conception and during the first trimester reduced this risk by 72-100%. Start taking 400-600 mcg per day at least 1-2 months before trying to become pregnant and continue at least two months after conception. If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, it may contain more folic acid and that’s ok.


Picture: http://www.mayo.edu/research/centers-programs/womens-health-research-center

National Osteoporosis Foundation: https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/

University of Maryland Medical Center (Folic Acid): http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid


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