14 June 2022, by Starmühler

The right supplements for women

© Sven Mieke

Creatine, vitamin B12, L-carnitine - you often hear about a wide variety of supplements, but many female fitness enthusiasts aren't sure which supplements are right for their bodies. And rightly so: many studies in the fitness and medical world assume the male as the norm. This also applies to proper nutrition and supplements, even though the female body often has very different needs. But which nutritional supplements are particularly suitable for women? 


What are supplements?

To be healthy, the body needs many different vitamins, acids and fats, but it cannot produce them all on its own or absorb them through food. In this case, supplements can be consulted. Accordingly, the diet is the basis and supplements are an additive that can be taken in powder or tablet form, but also as shakes or gels. However, before starting to take supplements, blood values should be checked. Consulting a doctor before taking supplements is essential, as every person and body is different. In addition, supplements should be matched to training and clear goals should be defined before starting to take them. 


Which supplements help to build muscle?

Depending on the definition of the goal, there are different means that help to achieve the desired results. If muscles are to be built up, it must be noted that this ability is often genetically determined and also strongly dependent on hormone balance. For example, while men have more muscle-building hormones, such as testosterone, nutrition as well as suitable training plays an even greater role in women. An extra portion of protein can be helpful, as can BCAA (brain chain amino acids), which are three branched long-chain essential amino acids, as well as creatine and protein powder. Some caution is advised with protein powder, however, as overdosing can lead to bloating, skin problems or weight gain. Creatine is an endogenous acid produced in the liver, kidney and pancreas and is found primarily in muscle cells. There it is involved in growth processes and regeneration. Accordingly, it is good for strength sports enthusiasts and HIIT fans. However, taking creatine can lead to a slight increase in body weight, as creatine causes water to be stored in the muscles.


Gaining or losing weight with the help of supplements 

Supplements can also help with weight gain or loss. In any case, it should be clarified in advance with medical personnel whether taking supplements is the healthiest way. 

Minerals, proteins and omega-3 fatty acids are suitable for weight gain. The latter are a special group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that can be taken when exercising frequently. In the case of these fatty acids, daily intake through food or, if not possible, as supplements is recommended, as they support the brain and heart and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Proteins can also assist with weight gain. They are made up of many individual protein building blocks called amino acids. BCAAs consist of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are involved in muscle growth and are therefore suitable for endurance, combat and strength athletes. 

BCAAs can also help when weight loss is the goal, as an increased amount of them in the body ensures that energy is not obtained from muscle tissue, but from fat deposits. Additionally, casein protein powder, which has a high satiety value, helps. A supporting effect in the weight loss process also has L-carnitine, which consists of the amino acids lysine and methionine and is responsible for fat burning, the conversion of fat into energy. In addition, L-carnitine normalizes the level of free fatty acids in plasma. For pregnant women, this is particularly important to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Basically, any gain or loss should not be forced and should be attempted in the most natural way possible. 


The right supplements depending on the cycle phase, life phase and diet

Overall, there are some supplements that are particularly suitable for women. However, differences have been found especially when hormones are taken. Since women naturally suffer from iron deficiency more often, it is advisable to take iron in the form of dietary supplements - especially during menstruation. This helps to prevent anemia during menstruation, which would be due to lower red blood cell production as a result of low iron levels. Menstruators can also do themselves some good before their period - with calcium: It not only strengthens bone health, but can also reduce PMS.

Furthermore, the trace element zinc and the mineral magnesium can help with concentration problems and fatigue. 

Another deficiency that can be addressed by a supplement is that of vitamin B12. Due to the animal origin of vitamin B12, which is involved in the formation of red blood cells, vegans should consider taking this vitamin. In addition, people who eat a vegan diet often lack the important omega-3 fatty acids. Here algae or dietary supplements from algae are particularly suitable as an alternative to fish, through which the fatty acids are otherwise absorbed. 

Finally, there is vitamin D, which is mainly absorbed through sunlight and supports serotonin synthesis. This is responsible for the function of information processes in the brain. A supply of vitamin D is particularly recommended in the cold, less sunny months, should there be a confirmed deficiency. Women in menopause are often recommended to take vitamin D, because with increasing age, vitamin synthesis also becomes poorer and vitamin D deficiency becomes more frequent. 

In conclusion, it can be said that supplements not only support training, but can also contribute to a healthy life in everyday life. However, before starting to take them, a doctor should always be consulted, who will adjust the supplements and the form of intake to the individual person.