If you want to be healthy, don’t forget the following 5 essential nutrients for women

Even women with a fit body are often deficient in some important nutrients necessary for training and maintaining health. What about you? Is there a lack of 1 of the 5 nutrients that women need?

Adequate intake of nutrient-rich foods will help keep your body in tip top shape and reduce your risk of age-related health problems. For women, eating well between late teens and early 50s is especially important for several reasons. Here are some nutrients needed by young adult women.

1. Calcium for strong bones

If you build strong bones at a young age, you will reduce your risk of osteoporosis (also known as brittle bone disease) as you age. After the age of 35, the natural bone density will decrease significantly. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to have a good and constant supply of calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong and to avoid foods and drinks that can weaken bones.

Dairy products are consistently rated as the best source of calcium. However, if you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, you can add calcium-rich food sources such as small bony fish (sardines, anchovies), green leafy vegetables, fortified soy milk, tofu, almonds kernels and nuts such as sesame and sunflower seeds.

How many do you need?

Since dairy products are a rich source of calcium, three servings per day should be enough to meet an adult’s daily requirement of 700mg of calcium. After menopause, your body absorbs calcium less efficiently, so you may need to increase your calcium intake.

Servings of calcium in some foods:

  • 100g canned salmon (with bones) = 164mg calcium
  • 200ml skim milk = 240mg calcium
  • 150g low-fat yogurt = 242mg calcium
  • 30g cheddar = 222mg calcium
  • 25g almonds = 60mg calcium
  • 100g canned sardines with tomato sauce = 455mg calcium
  • 100g enhanced steamed tofu = 510mg calcium
  • 30g dried figs = 75mg calcium
  • 2 slices of white bread = 88mg calcium
  • 135g of baked beans = 57mg of calcium

Should You Take Supplements?

You should be able to get all of your calcium needs from your diet. However, if you are considering calcium supplements, consult your doctor, especially if you have health problems.

The two main forms of calcium in supplements are carbonate and citrate. Calcium carbonate is more common, both cheap and convenient. Because it depends on stomach acid for absorption, calcium carbonate is absorbed most efficiently when taken with food. Calcium citrate is absorbed equally when taken with or without food.

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If you experience digestive discomfort while taking a supplement, you may find it easier to split your calcium dose into two smaller doses taken at different times of the day. Older people often lack stomach acid to absorb calcium in the form of calcium carbonate. People over 65 years old should take calcium citrate. Calcium also needs vitamin D for absorption, is found in certain foods like oily fish and egg yolks, and is made by the skin in response to sunlight.

2. Folate for a healthy heart

Not only is a nutrient needed by women, folic acid or folate (vitamin B9) is also essential during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Because the spinal cord is formed during the first 12 weeks, folate is important in the early stages of pregnancy. It can take several weeks before you realize you’re pregnant, which is why all women of reproductive age are advised to take a supplement.

Folate is also good for the immune system, energy production, prevents anemia, and can also help protect against heart disease and stroke, so you should make sure your diet gets enough right away. Even if you don’t plan to have children.

Folate for a healthy heart

Women who are planning a pregnancy especially need folate in their daily diet

How many do you need?

The recommended daily intake for adults and children over 11 years of age is 200 micrograms. In addition to the 200mcg intake from the daily diet, women who are considering becoming pregnant should get 400mcg of folate. (= 600mcg) Pregnant women need a total of 700mcg during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Folate content in some foods:

  • 115g spinach = 185mcg folate
  • 225ml tomato juice = 22mcg folate
  • 115g black beans = 128mcg folate
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread = 10mcg folate
  • 115g steamed broccoli = 40mcg folate
  • 1 orange = 40mcg folate
  • 115g steamed asparagus = 199 mcg folate
  • 100g wheat = 277mcg folate

Should You Take Supplements?

Our bodies do not absorb folic acid in its natural form as it does in its synthetic form. While it’s still fine to eat folate-rich foods, it’s almost impossible to get 400mcg from your diet. So supplementation is essential. People with malabsorption diseases (Crohns, celiac) are prone to severe deficiency. When supplementing with folic acid alone, combine it with B12 because folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency. Always check with your GP before you start taking a supplement.

3. Magnesium promotes overall health

Magnesium is also one of the nutrients needed by women. It helps the body deal with stress, generates enough energy and builds strong bones. It also helps the muscles and nervous system. Studies show that low magnesium intake may be associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraines. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle spasms, cramps, lethargy, poor memory, and sleep disturbances.

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How many do you need?

The recommended daily amount for magnesium is 300mg. Green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and unrefined (brown) grains are the best sources of magnesium. Magnesium is almost completely lost during food processing. It is estimated that magnesium intake is about 600mg per day.

Essential nutrients for women: Magnesium promotes general health

Magnesium is important for a number of bodily functions

You can find magnesium in the following foods:

  • 25g almonds = 68mg magnesium
  • 25g Brazil nuts = 102mg magnesium
  • 25g sesame seeds = 92mg magnesium
  • 150g baked beans = 45mg magnesium
  • 100g spinach = 80mg magnesium
  • 1 bowl of cereal = 42mg of magnesium
  • 1 serving (150g) cooked brown rice = 66mg magnesium
  • 1 serving (60g) of hummus = 37mg of magnesium

Should You Take Supplements?

If you don’t eat nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables or beans regularly, consider adding them to your diet or taking a supplement. A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that a daily 200mg magnesium supplement reduced PMS, water retention, breast tenderness and bloating by up to 40%. Magnesium supplements are available in several forms: magnesium glycinate or citrate are the most easily absorbed. Magnesium oxide may be the cheapest but is the least absorbed.

4. Brain-boosting omega-3 fats

Oily fish is rich in one of the most beneficial fats: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are important for a baby’s brain development, making them an important nutrient for pregnant women. Studies have also shown that women who get enough omega-3s during pregnancy can help ensure healthy brain and nervous system development in their unborn babies, as well as possibly reduce the risk of preterm birth.

Omega-3 fats also keep adult hearts healthy and reduce the risk of stroke, and may help reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. All in all, omega-3s offer real health benefits no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Essential nutrients for women: Omega-3 strengthens the brain

You can easily find omega 3 in foods

How many do you need?

You can get enough omega-3s by eating a couple of 140g servings of oily fish per week.

  • 100g salmon (wild, raw) = 2.0g omega-3
  • 100g mackerel (raw) = 2.67g omega-3
  • 100g tuna (fresh) = 1.3g omega-3
  • 1 small can of sardines = 1.4g omega-3
  • 30g walnuts = 2.6g omega-3
  • 30g flaxseed = 6.3g omega-3
  • 100g Omega-3 chicken eggs = 0.2g omega-3

Should You Take Supplements?

As a daily supplement in healthy individuals who rarely eat fish, fish oil supplements are typically taken in the 0.5-1.0g daily range. This value increases for people with chronic diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit blood clotting. So consult your doctor before using fish oil supplements if you have a blood disorder or are taking anticoagulants.

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Cod liver oil preparations are a good source of omega-3s, but they contain vitamin A, which can be toxic in large amounts, so if you’re taking other supplements like multivitamins, you’ll be more likely easily exceed the maximum recommended dosage. Pregnant women should use this alternative brain food source without vitamin A.

5. Iron to provide energy

Studies show that one in four women has low iron stores. Iron is needed for the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. This mineral is also part of many enzymes and is integral to the immune system. Iron deficiency can make you feel weak, unable to concentrate, and more susceptible to infections than usual.

Nutrients needed for women: Iron provides energy

It is impossible not to mention iron when talking about nutrients needed for women

How many do you need?

The recommended level of iron supplementation per day is 14.8mg per day. Postmenopausal women should take 8.7mg per day. Iron deficiency usually has no symptoms. However, as iron stores decrease, your body is also able to produce healthy red blood cells. The result is iron-deficiency anemia, which can manifest as weakness, fatigue, and pallor.

  • 100g pork liver (raw) = 14mg iron
  • 100g beef liver (raw) = 7mg iron
  • 1 bowl of cereal flour = 5mg of iron
  • 100g sirloin = 2.1mg iron
  • 25g sunflower seeds = 1.6mg iron
  • 25g pumpkin seeds = 2.5mg iron
  • 100g spinach = 1.89mg iron
  • 2 slices of wholemeal bread = 1.2mg of iron
  • 150g baked beans = 2.13mg iron
  • 30g dried apricots = 1.2mg iron
  • 1 egg = 0.98mg iron

Should You Take Supplements?

Menstruating women and those who don’t eat meat should consider taking an iron supplement. Iron supplements are available, but some forms, such as ferrous sulfate, can cause constipation and stomach upset. Although there is little risk of absorbing too much from food, you should consult your doctor before taking an iron supplement. Iron is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach but with a meal or vitamin C rich drink to increase absorption.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean protein, and dairy will help ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of each essential nutrient.

If you have dietary restrictions or a condition like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that makes it harder for your body to absorb nutrients, talk to your doctor about how to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Essentials for women.

Reference source

Five nutrients every woman needs https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/five-nutrients-every-woman-needs Accessed: 15/05/2021

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