Nutrition Essentials for all Women

As women, our nutritional needs change as we age and transition through the various reproductive stages of life. We experience menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding our children and followed by menopause later in life. Each of these seasons can require vastly different nutrients however, some of these nutrients remain beneficial no matter what season of life we are in. Here’s some insight into the top five essential nutrients to incorporate into your daily wellness routine.

Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy, but it also plays an important role in promoting healthy hormonal balance, maintaining a healthy weight, lowering blood cholesterol, and reducing the risks of common lifestyle conditions. A diet rich in wholefoods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes will ensure we are getting in essential dietary fibre. One Beauty Bite has 8g of prebiotic fibre per serve. 

Vitamin C + E 
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, it is an important nutrient to enhance the absorption of iron and is required for the formation of collagen. Vitamin C is also important to support a healthy immune system and it can even help to make several of our hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain. Vitamin C is naturally found in many foods including many fruits including cantaloupe, strawberries, papaya, citrus fruits and tomato, as well as cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, capsicum, sweet potatoes and cooked spinach. 

Vitamin E is often underestimated especially when it comes to the female reproductive system. It is an antioxidant and acts synergistically with ovarian hormones and testosterone, making it a hormone balancer. It can help to increase a woman's cervical mucus, reduce inflammation and support the nervous system helping with stress reduction. Common foods where Vitamin E is found include sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts or peanut butter, collard greens, spinach, pumpkin, and capsicum. One Beauty Bite contains 97% of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Vitamin C and 23% RDI of Vitamin E. 

Calcium + Vitamin D
Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for female health and work best when paired together. Calcium is well known to build and maintain bone health which is important for females in the prevention of osteoporosis, especially in menopausal years when the hormone oestrogen is naturally reducing. Calcium can be found in many food sources including dairy products, dark leafy green vegetables, a variety of nutritious seeds including chia and sesame seeds, as well as almonds, sardines and canned salmon and beans and lentils. 

Vitamin D is a hormone that communicates with all other hormones in our bodies. It plays an essential role in preventing hormone fluctuations, assists our bodies in the absorption of calcium and is needed for bone metabolism. Because Vitamin D is produced mostly in the skin, it is received best via the sun and by practicing safe sunlight exposure. There are many factors that can reduce your vitamin D absorption including the time of day one is exposed to the sun, how long the sun exposure is for and even the colour of a woman's skin can impact absorption levels. 

Collagen is found in our body and is the most abundant protein. It is commonly associated with glowing skin, strong nails, and hair, and also plays a crucial role in supporting bones and cartilage strength, as well as supporting our digestive health. 

As a premenstrual woman you may begin to take a collagen supplement to support and decrease inflammation in the body which can often be a contributing factor to acne. Then as we go through pregnancy, we see that collagen is responsible for the elasticity of the skin. So, a collagen supplement can support your skin with the rapid growth occurring throughout the pregnancy. And, naturally as we age our collagen production decreases which is why wrinkles in our skin begin to appear in our later years. Collagen can help to strengthen and hydrate the skin while reducing fine lines. It also protects and relieves joint pain, maintains the integrity of your cartilage, and supports the structure of your bones. Beauty Bites contain 3,800mg of Hydrolysed Collagen Peptides per serve.

Iron needs for women are particularly high in comparison to men, mainly due to the amount of iron lost during menstruation. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, a woman can lose up to 1mg of iron for everyday of her bleed, which explains why this is the most common nutrient deficiency amongst women. Pregnancy is another time in a woman’s life when iron stores dramatically increase. This is due to the baby storing enough iron to last the first 6 months of its life earthside, combined with increases in maternal blood volume and the development of the baby's blood system. 

The best source of iron is from red meat, but it is also found in smaller amounts in chicken, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, potatoes, nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu, tempeh, wholegrains such as oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa.

So, as you can see whilst your nutritional needs may change depending on your stage of life, there are definitely some key essentials to help build your daily foundations. Eating a healthy wholefood diet is a great place to start and will ensure you are meeting your basic needs. Once you have the diet down pat, you can bring in healthy snacks like Beauty Bites to elevate your health to the next level. 

Shelley McKenzie 
Naturopath & Nutritionist
BHSC, AdvDip.