Nutrition for Female Health

In light of International Women’s Day this week, this post is dedicated to all women out there, often it can be easy to focus on everyone else around us that we may forget to look after ourselves properly. However, if you can give us just a few minutes of your time to read this article, we really hope you’ll be able to take a few things away so that you can better support your health in order to look after those around you.

Let’s start with the basics, whilst we’re not about counting the numbers we do think it’s important to have some idea of what you’re eating simply to ensure you’re eating enough! Below are the recommendations for women in the UK:

Calories: 2000kcals/day
Fats:78g
Saturated Fats: 24g
Carbohydrates: 50% of total energy intake
Free Sugars: Less than 5% of total energy intake
Fibre: 30g/d

This isn’t about overwhelming you but if these numbers do seem a little bit too much park them for a moment and pick one of the key nutrients below to focus on. With regards to a few key nutrients women require significantly more than men and that’s due to our cycles, hormone function and our life stages.

Iron
Each month we lose a lot of iron through our period. As a result, iron deficiency anaemia is not uncommon in women. Therefore, women require significantly more iron than men and consequently women below the menopausal age need 14.8mg per day. You can obtain this by consuming iron rich foods such as meat, fish, green leafy vegetables and seeds such as sesame seeds. Additionally, if you are low in iron try adding a source of Vitamin C to your plant iron e.g. adding lemon juice to your leafy greens. Additionally do be aware of iron absorption inhibitors, these are compounds which can inhibit our ability to absorb iron from our foods. An example of this would be the tannins in tea and coffee. If you’re partial to a coffee with your porridge in the morning do be aware that the tannins can inhibit the iron in the oats.

Calcium
Supporting our bone health is incredibly important as we’re far more prone to osteoporosis later on in life due to the decline in oestrogen which occurs after the menopause. Key sources of calcium include: dairy, fortified plant milks, calcium-set tofu and nuts such as almonds.

Vitamin K and Vitamin D
These nutrients are essential for supporting bone health too and it’s recommended to supplement with 10µg of Vitamin D during the winter months. Vitamin K can be found in the fermented soy product natto, green vegetables, soya beans and pine nuts too.

Magnesium
Magnesium is required in over 300+ processes in the body and plays an important role in supporting our hormone production and muscle and nerve relaxation (this is particularly important during certain times of the month). You can find magnesium in a whole host of foods including: green leafy vegetables (they’re pretty much nutrient powerhouses), almonds, black beans, eggs, meat and fish too.

Taking time for yourself and nourishing your body with adequate amounts of nutrients will help you be a better friend, parent, sister, partner, grandparent, grandchild and all round individual! Try to focus on one or two elements of this article and really getting to grips with it. We recommend adding more green vegetables into your diet as this would cover most of these nutrients so it’s a great place to start.