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The 6 nutrients every woman needs

November 7, 2014

the-6-nutrients-every-woman-needs  The nutritional requirements of women are very different to men. A balanced diet is the best way to get all the nutrients you need, but it’s a good idea to pay particular attention to those that are important for women’s health.
IRON
 
Why?
 
According to the World Health Organisation, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. Iron is an essential mineral that carries oxygen to every cell in the body and is required for human life. It’s also integral to maintaining a healthy immune system and helps our bodies digest food. Although women and men metabolise iron at roughly the same rate, women need more iron to make up for the amount they lose during menstruation. 
 
How much do you need?
 
Healthy women aged 19 to 50 years old should aim to have 18mg per day, while pregnant women should aim for 27mg per day.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Good sources of dietary iron include red meat, chicken and fish, fortified cereals, legumes and nuts, and leafy green vegetables. 
 
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
 
Why?
 
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health, but the body can’t produce them, so you need to get them through food. They play an important role in maintaining brain function and may reduce the risk of heart disease. They are a key nutrient for pregnant women and may also reduce inflammation.
 
How much do you need?
 
The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least two times a week to achieve the recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, sardines and tuna. You can also get omega-3s from plant sources including linseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybean and canola oils. 
 
VITAMIN E
 
Why?
 
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells and defends them against UV damage. If you don’t get enough vitamin E you may have problems absorbing other nutrients, which makes it an essential for women of all ages.
 
How much do you need?
 
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest women get 15mg of vitamin E per day.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Foods that have vitamin E include eggs, fruit, leafy green vegetables, meat, nuts, poultry, vegetable oils, olive oil and whole grains.
 
FOLIC ACID (FOLATE)
 
Why?
 
Folate plays a critical role in preventing birth defects involving the brain and spinal cord, so it may be recommended by health professionals for women who are pregnant or planning to have a baby. It’s also important for maintaining heart health and repairing DNA damage.
 
How much do you need?
 
All women are advised to consume 400mcg of folic acid each day. Many women don’t get enough folate, as the levels are affected by how your food is cooked and stored.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Good sources of folate include cereals, baked goods, leafy vegetables, asparagus, citrus fruits, avocado, legumes, mushrooms, beef liver, kidney, sunflower seeds, plain yoghurt, whole grains, oranges and tomato juice. To support women’s health, folic acid is often added to foods, such as breakfast cereals, breads, flours, pasta and white rice.
 
MAGNESIUM
 
Why?
 
Magnesium is required for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. It helps muscles contract and allows nerves to send and receive messages. It also helps maintain a steady heartbeat and a healthy immune system. In a study published in The Journal of Women's Health, it was found that magnesium helped reduce PMS, fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating by up to 40 per cent. 
 
How much do you need?
Healthy women need around 300-400mg of magnesium per day.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Rich sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, meat, nuts and fish. It’s also found in yoghurt, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, bran, tofu, potatoes, spinach and baked beans.
 
CALCIUM
 
Why? 
 
Calcium is essential for building strong bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis—a disease that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. Women (especially those over 50) are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis due to lighter, thinner bones and longer life span. A healthy supply of calcium can help you maintain good bone density, no matter what your age.
 
How much do you need?
 
Healthy women need 1000mg of calcium each day. After menopause, your body may become less efficient at absorbing calcium, so you may need to increase your intake. As dairy products are a rich source of calcium, three portions a day will meet these requirements.
 
Where can you find it?
 
Dairy including milk, cheese and yoghurt are the best sources of calcium, but you can also get it from small-boned fish such as sardines and anchovies, green leafy vegetables, almonds and seeds.
 
Remember to see your doctor if you have any concerns about your health or are unsure about your nutritional needs.
 
How do you maintain a healthy balance of nutrients? Browse Comvita’s range of natural foods and supplements for more healthy additions to your routine.

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