With many different kinds of supplements out there, it’s often very difficult to know which one to take. We all strive to have healthy lifestyles and improve our overall well-being by balancing our diets and physical activities. In honour of Women’s Health Month, here are certain nutrients that women should consider adding to their diets:
Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide with more than 20% of women experiencing it during their child-bearing years.1 Iron is an essential element for almost all living organisms as it participates in a wide variety of metabolic processes, including oxygen transport.2 Iron deficiency in women is associated with a range of symptoms including depression; reduced endurance and work performance; and compromised intellectual and cognitive functions.3 The daily recommended intake of iron is higher for women of reproductive age compared to men; pregnancy increases this requirement.3 You can find iron in both animal and plant foods. Animal sources include meat, fish, and poultry, while plant sources include dried beans, peas, lentils, as well as various grain products, which usually come fortified with iron.4 Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C is the best dietary enhancer of iron absorption.3 For a quick iron-absorbing tip: eat or drink something with vitamin C like an orange or orange juice to enhance the amount of iron your body can absorb.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for musculoskeletal health and function.5 It plays a strong role in calcium absorption and metabolism for overall bone health.6 It is true that we get vitamin D from exposure to the sunlight, however, this is often not enough. Vitamin D is especially important in older, post-menopausal women. This is because insufficient vitamin D levels reduce calcium in the bones, which impairs muscle strength, possibly leading to balance issues, falls, and worse yet, fractures. It is often found that women with osteoporosis tend to have a vitamin D deficiency as well.5 Some sources that are rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon and sardines, eggs, mushrooms, oysters, and fortified milk, yogurt, soy products, and cereals.7
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that must not be forgotten. They are well known for their ability to reduce cardiovascular disease.8 More importantly, it is vital during pregnancy, as they are the critical building blocks for the fetal brain and retinas, and help improve overall childhood development.9 Sources of rich omega-3s include seafood and fish oil supplements, flaxseed oil, and various vegetable oils.9
For more information regarding dietary intakes and supplementations, feel free to ask your chiropractor at your next visit.
- Percy L, Mansour D, Fraser I. Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in women. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2016. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2016.09.007.
- Abbaspour N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci. 2014; 19(2):1 64-74.
- Coad J, Pedley K. Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in women. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2014; 74(suppl 244): 82-9.
- Dietitians of Canada. Food Sources of Iron. 2016. Available at: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Iron.aspx. Accessed March 1, 2017.
- Brech GC, Ciolac EG, Peterson MD, Greve JMD. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are associated with functional capacity but not with postural balance in osteoporotic postmenopausal women. Clinics. 2017; 72(1): 11-6. doi:10.6061/clinics/2017(01)03.
- Grant WB, Holick MF. Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: A review. Altern Med Rev. 2005; 10(2): 94-111. Review.
- Khadilkar SS. The emerging role of vitamin D3 in women’s health. J Obstet Gynecol India. 2013; 63(3): 147-50. doi:10.1007/s13224-013-0420-4.
- Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ; American Heart Association. Nutrition Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2002; 106(21): 2747-57. Erratum in: Circulation. 2003; 107(3): 512.
- Coletta JM, Bell SJ, Roman AS. Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010; 3(4): 163-71.