Growing up I was a skinny minnie and an anemic. I vaguely remember the doctor prescribing this liquid form of iron and some Flintstone multivitamins so taking supplements were a crucial part of my childhood. It wasn't that I was a picky eater, though. I ate all of my meats, fruits and most vegetables – like what kid eats asparagus and brussels sprouts – and my family was all about that well-balanced meal life. But later, I assumed my food was lacking some nutrients because my folks' definition of "done" was deep-fried and overcooked.
As an adult living on my own, I made an effort to be more conscious of choosing and preparing foods that would maximize my nutrient intake so that I didn't have to rely on supplements. But somewhere in my 30s, I learned that sometimes our bodies still don't absorb enough nutrients due to age, limitations or certain health conditions that get a little selfish and consume what vitamins and nutrients we already have.
Take vitamin D, for example. According to Healthline, vitamin D is very difficult to get from diet alone, especially if you get infrequent sunlight and have dark skin. In fact, based on a 2011 study, 82.1% of African-Americans are vitamin D-deficient.
And do you know what else disproportionately affects African-Americans, specifically women? Fibroids. At age 38, I had an iron-deficiency so great from fibroids that I had to quickly increase my hemoglobin level before I underwent surgery if I wanted to avoid a blood transfusion midway through the procedure. Liver, spinach and all the medium-done steaks weren't going to do it.
Needless to say, my daily regimen during adulthood was tiny red iron tablets and Vitamin D gummies.
I couldn't help but wonder a) how many Black women are taking at least vitamin D and iron supplements and b) what other vitamins do we lack and should be supplementing. I discovered that Black women may potentially be low on not only Vitamin D and iron but also vitamins A, B, C, E and K, calcium and folic acid. So I reached out to several women to inquire about their specific vitamin regimen, including two nutritionists, particularly to find out what vitamins Black women should absolutely have in their medicine cabinets.
I asked both Danielle Smiley-Daniel, a public health nutritionist and soon-to-be registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) based in the Hartford, CT, area, and plant-based public health specialist Chelsea Williams in Los Angeles for guidance. Danielle's immediate rule-of-thumb is food first and supplements second. Therefore, we shouldn't automatically turn to vitamins as an easy replacement.
"It would be ideal to get most of your vitamins and minerals from whole food sources but you cannot always do so," says Danielle. "I view supplements as a way to fill the gap with the nutrients your intake does not fulfill."
However, both women stress the importance of consulting with your primary care provider before implementing any vitamin and mineral supplement regimen. Popping a regular ole multivitamin or a sea moss capsule may seem harmless but they should be treated like any other prescribed medication that comes with a list of potential side effects, especially since some supplements can interfere with whatever you're already taking. It needs to be personalized to fit your current lifestyle and medical history.
"Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all supplement routine," Chelsea says. "This is due to individual health conditions – for example, pregnancy, anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. Additionally, women [need] to be cognizant of any contraindications with any medications they may be taking, along with the proper dosage."
And even time of day. Some vitamins and supplements may need to be taken later in the day depending on what you're taking in the morning.
I chatted with six women – including Danielle the public health nutritionist – ranging in ages from 29 to 43 about what was in their vitamin cabinets. Their vitamins are mostly prescribed but some were added based on the women's own research. Here's what they take:
Disclaimer: xoNecole is in no way recommending adding any of the below mentioned vitamins. We are simply providing information as a way to enlighten and inform. Please consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
Courtesy of Martinique Swan
"I take Vitamin D3 for deficiency, biotin for hair, skin and nails, iron for anemia, black seed oil for adult asthma symptoms and my immune system, ashwagandha and CBD for anxiety and chlorella as a multivitamin since it's a superfood and has a lot of nutrients. I also take elderberry, zinc and sea moss for my immune system."
Courtesy of Krystal Layne
"I take vitamins C, D and D3 as well as iron and zinc. I started taking vitamin C and zinc to support my immune system. I didn't start taking vitamin D or D3 because I was deficient but my doctor did recommend it. I take vitamin D because I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Vitamin D is the sunlight vitamin that will increase my energy and mood. Vitamin D3 supports my immune system especially with COVID-19 and since I'm an essential worker. My doctor also recommended Vitamin D along with iron pills because I'm anemic. And I also take omega 3s for high cholesterol, oregano oil supplements for additional immune support and a Lydia Pinkham supplement for menstrual support."
Courtesy of Spencer St. Fleur
"I started taking vitamins to care for my overall health and wellness and provide the extra nutrition/nourishment that foods don't always provide since they're mostly overprocessed. I take multivitamins, vitamins C and D that my doctor prescribed, fish oil, black seed oil (three days per week since it's so terrible), sea moss gel, iron, zinc and probiotics for gut and feminine wellness."
Courtesy of Mia Tatum
"I take supplements based on my own research and trial and error. I take ashwagandha for anxiety, astaxanthin for cognitive health, zinc for my immune system, a probiotic for gut health and B12 for energy. When I have PMS, I take Vitamin E because it helps a lot with breast tenderness. I also have a subscription to Care/of, which is convenient and offers a quiz you can take for recommendations."
Courtesy of Yemisi Gisanrin
"My doctor recommended Vitamin D for bone health because my count was really low, folic acid for reproductive health and omega 3 for heart health and lower cholesterol."
Courtesy of Danielle Smiley-Daniel
"My supplement regimen includes Vitamin D to boost my immune system and maintain strong bones, probiotics to improve gut health and decrease gastrointestinal bloat and omega 3 to help prevent heart disease, stroke and cancer."
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Every now and then, a celebrity name drops a tool or regimen that they swear by to keep their beauty and fitness game on lock. And every now and then, those finds make us think that whatever product they're using might be worth the investment. Today, Kelly Rowland just so happens to be that girl.
Over the weekend, while headling Beautycon, the 42-year-old singer revealed to PEOPLE that her biggest beauty splurge comes in the form of LED light therapy. She told the outlet, "There's this light by Shani Darden, the LED light, and it's not cheap. But I literally sleep under it every night."
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode, and in light therapy, these little diodes emit different wavelengths of light to benefit your skin. LED light therapy has seen an uptick in popularity for its benefits, which range from acne reduction and skin rejuvenation to pain relief and a more even skin tone.
She continued, “It's like a 20 to 30-minute time limit. When I'm under there, it [has] red lights, blue lights, and other colors of light. But those are the ones that I use the most, and they are so awesome because of the simple fact that they are like killing germs and [helping with] anti-aging, which is amazing."
Kelly didn't lie when she said her go-to beauty device was a "splurge." Retailing at a whopping $1,900, the Shani Darden best-selling LED Light Therapy Mask "is clinically proven to reduce acne, pigmentation, and wrinkles." Per the website, the re-engineered "diode LEDs deliver the highest dose of red, blue and near infrared light therapy in cutting-edge wavelength combinations for smoothing, clearing and brightening benefits."
Kelly is someone who gets badder with age, and over the years, the wife and mom have been vocal about her dedication to self-care through the use of beauty products. In a 2022 interview with PEOPLE, she shared her inner beauty philosophy, "Give yourself as many compliments as you possibly can. You start with one, you can have two. You have two, you can have four."
Keep scrolling for some of Kelly Rowland's other beauty faves, including a couple of additional Shani Darden finds:
Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation
Pat McGrath Labs
"For me [with foundation] it was either not enough coverage or too much coverage … Pat [McGrath] found the perfect blend of them both," Kelly told PEOPLE. "This is actually my color, and it blends in beautifully with the skin – the texture of it is just like silk. I brush it on, or, sometimes I use the little sponge and push it into the skin. It's my favorite. She just nailed it, she really nailed it."
Regarding this product, Kelly revealed to The Cut, "I go up my cheekbones, across my skin and my temples with her wand — it’s incredible."
"I've been with [esthetician] Shani [Darden] for almost 10 years. I was having the toughest time with my skin after I had Titan [seven years ago]. Before she sold this, she put it in a little tube for me and told me when and how to use it–she likes to educate, which I really appreciate–and my skin changed in a matter of two weeks." - via PEOPLE
“Sometimes I use the Rich Cream, and sometimes I just use the Cream," she explained to The Cut about her product preferences.
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Featured image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Beautycon™