Five nutrients every woman needs
As women undergo complex changes over the years, their bodies need a variety of nutrients. Nutritionist Fiona Hunter explains what you need and when.
If you eat a balanced diet, it's not difficult to get enough of the many nutrients our bodies need. However, menstruation, the menopause, pregnancy and fluctuating hormone levels affect the need for certain key nutrients.
1. Calcium for strong bones
Osteoporosis, also called brittle bones, affects one in two women over the age of 50 in the UK. The risk of suffering from this debilitating condition increases dramatically if your diet lacks calcium. Studies suggest that a low intake may also be linked with PMS. Until your mid-20s, it's vital not to skimp on calcium while your bones grow, but it remains important for bone health at all ages.
Until your mid-20s, it's vital not to skimp on calcium while your bones grow
How much do you need?
The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) is 700mg, which can usually be gained from three servings of dairy. After the menopause, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing calcium, so you may need to up your intake.
- 100g canned salmon (eaten with bones) = 300mg calcium
- 200ml (semi) skimmed milk = (248) 249mg calcium
- 150g pot low-fat yogurt = 225mg calcium
- 30g cheddar = 216mg calcium
- 25g almonds = 60mg calcium
- 100g portion sardines canned in tomato sauce = 460mg calcium
- 100g steamed tofu = 510mg calcium
- 40g dried figs =100mg calcium
- 2 slices of white bread = 85mg calcium
- 135g portion baked beans = 72mg calcium
Should you take a supplement?
If you don't eat dairy products, discuss options with your GP or practice nurse as supplements are available in several forms. Always check the amount of elemental or pure calcium in the supplement as it varies depending on the form. Calcium citrate and calcium malate are more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate. Older people often lack sufficient acid in the stomach to absorb calcium in the form of calcium carbonate â if you're over 65, take calcium citrate.