In honour of International Women’s Day, which fell on March 8th, this month we’ve put together an easy to digest overview of some of the specific nutrients women tend to need most, and some of the best, most convenient dietary sources for these nutrients. While diet is the ideal place to obtain vitamins and minerals, supplements are of course available if it's difficult to fit them all in. You've probably come across many or all of these before, but with so many demands on your time and energy it can be really difficult to keep on top of how what you’re eating relates to your overall health. This is a refresher to help you focus on ingredients for optimal health whenever possible!
Iron ensures your blood can carry adequate oxygen to your cells. The fact is, many women lose a significant amount of blood every month and with that blood goes iron. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also draw heavily on iron reserves. Red meat is one of the most effective source of dietary iron. If you’re a pescatarian you can focus on shellfish like oysters, mussels and clams, and if you’re a vegetarian, make sure to eat plenty of nuts, beans and seeds.
Women have a higher risk of developing bone fragility (osteoporosis) than men as they get older, and calcium helps maintain strong bones. Dairy has historically been seen as the best and only source of calcium, but with so many diary sensitivities, other items have come to the forefront. Here are a few possibly unexpected dairy-free sources: molasses, kale, almonds, oranges, sesame seeds and oatmeal!
Folic Acid helps new cells grow. In particular, it assists neurological cells in developing fetuses. You can keep your Folic Acid topped up by regularly eating leafy green vegetables, as well as citrus, squash, berries, avocados, liver, yeast, asparagus, nuts and olive oil
So many of the enzymes that keep our bodies running smoothly on a biochemical level need magnesium for their catalytic action, and because of this the mineral provides support in a number of different ways. Two of the most relevant for women are: magnesium can help prevent premature labour, and it can help relieve PMS symptoms. Magnesium is available in nuts, seeds, grains, cocoa, leafy green vegetables, and fish.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It’s becoming increasingly well-know that these fatty acids have a wealth of health benefits, from your joints to your heart. For women, they can also help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of both PMS and menopause, as well as offer significant support for both mama and baby during pregnancy. While fatty fish and fish oils are the top omega-3 source, vegetarians can look to nuts, seeds, and their oils.
Here's to the health of all the amazing women in our world!