PORTLAND -- With so much to choose from, the vitamin aisle can be intimidating for shoppers. But when it comes to the basics, what supplements do women really need to stay healthy?
Doctors say you can deconstruct the "capsule conundrum" by focusing on five basic nutrients that benefit women.
"Those would be iron, folate or folic acid, calcium, vitamin D and then probiotics," said Providence naturopathic doctor Cindy Reuter.
Reuter said it's best to get those nutrients from food, and only reach for the vitamin bottles when you have to-- it's why they're called "supplements." Take probiotics for example. Found naturally in many yogurts, Reuter said they're packed with benefits.
"Probiotics can be helpful with boosting the immune system, especially during cold and flu season," said Reuter.
"They're often helpful for people who have some chronic digestive issues."
At Whole Foods in Northwest Portland, several shoppers, including Jill Webber, were searching for nutrients on Reuter's list.
"My naturopath recommended I take a probiotic, vitamin D, and fish oil," said Webber, adding that the regimen has changed her life.
"If you saw me a year ago, I was in bed, I was sick all the time, I was having acid reflux. I was literally feeling like I could die."
Reuter said it's important to have the right nutritional balance.
"There's such a thing as too little of a nutrient and too much of a nutrient," said Reuter. "It's like "The Three Bears" story, when there's a "just right" amount."
As for other key nutrients, Reuter said iron is very important, but often over-looked.
"Iron not only has a role in making sure your blood is healthy and can properly carry oxygen, but it also seems to have an important role in the ability to think clearly, and to develop good learning and cognitive skills in children," said Reuter.
Reuter also suggested calcium for bone and muscle health, folate for blood and neurological health and vitamin D for an array of benefits including cardiac health.
As for how much of each nutrient you should have, Reuter suggested consulting your doctor, since every need is individual.