When it comes to men and women, there are many things that should be equal: rights, pay, share of airplane armrests. But, biologically speaking, women and men are different, particularly when it comes to hormones. While the nutrients men and women require may be the same or nearly the same, the reasons we need them can be different. This is especially true for female athletes, as our hormones are massively influenced by we put into our body and what we put our bodies into – like a 26.2-mile run, for example.
If you’re a woman on the move, here are the top seven nutrients that will keep you going strong.
Vitamin K2 works to take calcium out of our blood and put it into our bones. K2 in the form of menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is the form of vitamin K that has clinically-proven bone-building properties and lasts the longest in the bloodstream. Because this nutrient is so important for building strong bones and hard for some people to get consistently from food, we include it in both our SmartyPants Women’s Complete and our Prenatal Complete.
Female hormones are highly sensitive to stress, which includes physical stress such as intense exercise or nutrient deprivation. Going too low carb for too long could potentially impact thyroid function, mood and sleep quality, and digestion. It’s especially important for female athletes to pay attention to their carb intake. Most experts recommend a bare minimum of 100 grams of carbohydrate per day for all females, with that number rising to 150+ based on activity level.
Digestion is the process of breaking down food so that you can absorb the nutrients inside. Nutrients are required to make hormones. If your digestion is off, then your nutrient absorption could be too, which could impact hormone balance. As we already know, fiber supports healthy digestion, so it’s important to make fiber an integral part of your daily diet. It’s also what we include in our SmartyPants Adult Complete and Fiber gummies.
The B vitamins work together to do some pretty amazing things, including helping us burn fat and glucose for energy, maintain healthy skin and muscle tone, support our metabolism, enhance our immune function, ease stress, and improve mood. Female athletes should pay attention to getting plenty of B vitamins as this group can be easily depleted by alcohol, stress (which includes exercise), caffeine (hello pre-run cold brew!), and certain medications including antibiotics and hormonal birth control.
Speaking of the gut and healthy hormones, some research shows that gut bacteria can also influence hormones like estrogen which is partially metabolized in the gut. Unfortunately, the beneficial or “good” bacteria naturally present in our body can be depleted by many modern lifestyle factors including (but not limited to) chronic stress, food additives, too little fiber, and overexposure to anti-bacterial products. You can support your army of good gut bacteria by incorporating probiotics into your diet, either in the form of fermented foods or supplements like our SmartyPants Probiotic Complete gummies.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega 3 fatty acids, which include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), all help promote a healthy inflammatory response.* For women, omega 3s have been shown to support hormonal balance, promote healthy menstruation, and support brain function as we age! The best dietary sources of fatty acids are fish, algae, flax, and chia seeds. If you’re not a fan of fish or flax, you can try a high-quality omega 3 supplement or our SmartyPants gummies – the most delicious way on earth to eat fish oil.
While weight training isn’t a “nutrient,” per se, it is nutritious in the sense that its effect on the body supports several vital functions, and it’s an important part of any runner’s training program. Studies have shown that strength training will not only enhance running performance, but it can also help prevent injuries, bone loss, and may even help build new bone. Research shows that you can get the job done in as little as 30-60 minutes a week.
For more ways to make staying healthy a little less complicated and a lot more fun, check out our blog at www.smartypantsvitamins.com/blog
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.