Top 4 Nutrients for Women

By Bridgette Clare, RHN on March 17, 2015 , categorized in Plant-based Nutrition

Do women really need to eat differently than men? You bet we do. Let’s face it; we are special, and require special nutrients.  With International Women’s Day on March 8th, let’s celebrate how special we are by taking a closer look at the top four nutrients for women.

Iron

  • Why you need it?

Iron aids in the production of red blood cells and supports red blood cells in their work of carrying nutrients and oxygen throughout your body1National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.  Dietary iron is available in two main forms, which are heme, found in animal-based foods and non-heme, found in both animal and plant-based foods.2NIH reference National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/ Special considerations:

Adult women of child bearing years, between the ages of 19 and 50, have higher iron needs than men in that same age range because of menstruation. Our monthly cycle means a loss of blood, which can translate to a loss of iron. To avoid iron deficiency (anemia), women in this age range are recommended to have 18mg of iron per day (compared to 8mg for men). During, pregnancy iron needs increase further and 27mg per day is recommended. After menopause our Recommended Dietary Allowance for iron decreases to the same as men: 8mg per day3National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/.If you suspect that you have an iron deficiency, speak with your health care practitioner.

  • Where can you get it?

Some  good sources for plant-based iron are4National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/ fortified grains, white beans, dark chocolate, and Vega OneTM is a convenient option.

  • Tips for improved iron absorption:

Combine iron-rich foods with those that contain vitamin C, such as lemons, red and yellow peppers and broccoli. Vitamin C aids in bioavailability of the non-heme iron5NIH reference National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/, found in plant-based foods.

 

Folate (Folic Acid)

  • Why you need it?

Folate (folic acid when consumed as a supplement) is a B vitamin that’s needed to make DNA and other genetic material and for cell division.6National Institutes of Health. (2013). QuickFacts: Folate. Retrieved August 28, 2016, fromhttp://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-QuickFacts/

  • Special considerations:

Women and teen girls should make sure they’re getting at least 400 mcg/day of folate and pregnant women should have 600mcg/day. 7National Institutes of Health. (2013). QuickFacts: Folate. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

Folate (the naturally occurring form found in food) is found in vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, avocado and Brussels sprouts

 

Calcium9National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. Retrieved February 19, 2014, from  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h4

  • Why you need it?

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, with the majority stored in the bones and teeth where it plays an important role in their function and structure.

An important hormone in woman’s reproductive health, estrogen, is required for the absorption of calcium. As we head into menopause, estrogen levels decrease; low estrogen levels can affect your body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Special considerations:

As we age our calcium absorption decreases which is why woman 51 years and older have a higher recommended daily intake (1200 mg/day) as compared to woman under 50 years old (1000 mg/day).10National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h4

While this may not be something on your mind right now, it is important to incorporate adequate dietary calcium now to support and maintain bones as we age.

  • Where can you get it?

There are several plant-based foods that are a good source of calcium, such as calcium fortified soy milk or almond milk, and kale.11National Institutes of Health. (2013). Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/#h4

 

Vitamin D12National Institutes of Health. (2013). QuickFacts: Vitamin D. Retrieved February 19, 2014, fromhttp://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-QuickFacts/

  • Why you need it?

Vitamin D works alongside calcium in the maintenance of strong bones and teeth. In fact, it helps to support the absorption of calcium.13National Institutes of Health. (2013). QuickFacts: Vitamin D. Retrieved August 28, 2016,fromhttp://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-QuickFacts/

  • Special considerations:

Vitamin D isn’t known as the sunshine vitamin for nothing—your body can absorb it from natural sunlight (UVB rays). Keep in mind that the further you live from the equator the less likely you are to have adequate UVB exposure for vitamin D absorption (except in the summer). For example, those in Florida have more exposure to the sun, year-round than those in New York and those in New York have more exposure than those in Manitoba. Talk to your dermatologist about the sun exposure and follow their recommendations.

  • Where can you get it?

You can find vitamin D in fortified cereals, non-dairy milks and orange juice; check the label to ensure you’re meeting your recommended daily value of 600 IU/day. Getting all of these nutrients doesn’t have to be difficult. Whatever your age, lifestyle or activity level, committing to a clean, balanced and nutrient dense diet will help meet all of your nutrient needs.

 

If you are looking for a convenient, all-in-one shake to add to your morning smoothie, look no further than Vega OneTM. In addition to 2.7mg iron, you’ll also find 200 mcg folate, 200 mg calcium, and 200 IU Vitamin D to help you get the nutrition you want.

How you are celebrating International Women’s Day? Let us know in the comments below

 

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Bridgette Clare, RHN

A Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), Certified Raw Foods Chef and Vega Product Specialist, Bridgette Clare works at Vega as the Customer Experience Team Lead. Bridgette is passionate about making food fun and accessible. She believes what we eat has a huge impact on how we feel and whole heartedly supports a holistic approach to nutrition. Experimenting in the kitchen, sharing new recipes and enjoying new culinary experiences with friends is what she’s all about. Fun fact: Bridgette is always seeking out fun ways to stay active—trying out everything from circus school to testing out her indoor cycling teacher abilities!

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