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Vitamins for Women at Every Age

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Carly Pollack, holistic nutritionist, discusses the benefits of vitamins and supplements for all women.

By Chelsea Pribble 

Though vitamins won’t magically undo the damage from fruitless, nutrient-starved diets and lifestyles, the right kind of supplementation can make a difference. Whether you’re forced to subsist on microwave dinners or lacking creativity in the kitchen, it’s vital to find balance another way if not through food. Carly Pollack, an Austin-based holistic nutritionist, finally found solutions to her own autoimmune and weight issues when she veered away from outdated mainstream nutrition.

“[Mainstream nutrition] wasn’t working for me and that gave me a hunch it wasn’t working for other people,” Pollack says. “Holistic nutrition views the body as one unit. We are taught to look at every symptom as connected to everything else. Western medicine only treats the symptom.”

Pollack sat down with Austin Woman to reveal her comprehensive model to vitamins and supplements for women.

DAILY VITAMINS AREN’T NECESSARY FOR EVERYONE.

For those who set the bar high, Pollack may not recommend a daily vitamin. This includes women who are willing and able to place a higher level of attention on their food sources, ensuring they have all-organic, local produce and a varied and nutrient-dense diet. However, she may still suggest a supplement like B12, depending on a woman’s physical imbalances.

“I do recommend daily multivitamins to people who are not at that stage,” Pollack says, “if they’re eating out a majority of the time, so most of the food they’re eating is not organic; if they eat the same foods every single week, which most of us do; if they’re the type of person every time they go for nuts, they grab almonds instead of brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios or pumpkin seeds; if I find that their diet is not varied and they’re not yet willing or able to put in that type of intention and work.”

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER.

“I ask how women are hormonally and that’s how I put them in a vitamin-group recommendation versus a strict age range,” Pollack says.

For Pollack, there are three main groups she bases her recommendations on: premenopausal, perimenopausal and postmenopausal. For most women, until they’re perimenopausal, prenatal vitamins are the best option, even if pregnancy is not the goal, and especially when it is.

“I recommend most women get on a prenatal because a prenatal is just a vitamin with extra folic acid and extra B vitamins. Typically, we could use more B vitamins in our life, and folic acid is very important for women,” Pollack says.

For women who are pregnant, DHA, a type of omega-3, is important for the baby’s development. Since birth control depletes folic acid in the body, women should be on prenatals for about six months before getting pregnant.

For women with thyroid issues and other hormonal imbalances, Pollack cautions a health professional should determine safe supplements and dosages. Patients with hypothyroidism need more iodine and selenium, while the needs of a patient with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are different.

PAY ATTENTION TO LABELS AND STAY THE COURSE.

Pollack looks for three things to ensure quality in multivitamins. The first is the form of vitamins listed on the label. For instance, look for “methylfolate,” a form of folic acid, versus labels that generically read “folic acid.” Pollack also emphasizes the importance of clean, minimal ingredients. Anything with artificial colors and dyes should be tossed out. Finally, a vitamin label that notes it’s undergone third-party testing and has a GMP, or good manufacturing practices, stamp of approval ensures what is on the label is actually in the product. Otherwise, without FDA regulation and third-party review, products might not include what they claim to.

Though effects of vitamins won’t be noticeable right away, Pollack urges to give it more time, stay consistent, get the right dosage from a professional rather than from the label and adopt healthy habits.

“If you’re drinking every night and eating McDonald’s,” Pollack says, “that multivitamin might as well be a Tic Tac.”

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