Calcium is essential in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Over 99% of our body’s calcium is stored in our bones and teeth. In the bloodstream, calcium is used to transmit nerve signals, release hormones like insulin and regulate the contraction and dilation of muscles and blood vessels.
Calcium deficiency can have negative impacts on your emotional and physical wellbeing. For some, it may exacerbate PMS or cause mood problems such as irritability, anxiety and depression. You may also be at higher risk of osteoporosis as your body takes calcium from the bones to fuel its normal cell functions.
For women below the age of 50, the recommended amount of calcium intake is 1,000mg daily, while women above 50 should consume 1,200mg of calcium daily. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, certain fish, grains, tofu and cabbage.
Iron is essential in creating haemoglobin that carries oxygenated blood in the body. It also helps maintain healthy skin, hair and nails. Despite its importance, many women are not consuming sufficient iron, making anemia one of the most common deficiencies in women. Iron deficiency may lead to fatigue, inability to concentrate and feeling out of breath while doing minimal physical activities.
The recommended intake amount of iron varies throughout womanhood. For women during childbearing years, the recommended daily iron intake is 18mg in order to make up for iron lost during menstruation. For women above 50, the recommended daily intake is 8mg.
Good sources of iron include liver, red meat, kidney beans, nuts, dried fruits (raisins and apricots), fortified breakfast cereals and soy bean flour.
Folic Acid / Vitamin B9
Folic acid is necessary for the formation of new cells and red blood cells. It is also helpful for reducing risks of heart diseases and certain types of cancer. For pregnant women, folic acid can greatly reduce the chance of neurological or spinal cord defects in babies. In later stages of womanhood, folic acid can help the body manufacture estrogen during menopause.
The recommended daily amount of folic acid for adult females is 400 micrograms (mcg). Women planning to conceive should intake 600mcg of folic acid.
Good sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, nuts, beans and peas. Folic acid supplements may also be added to enrich grain-based products such as cereals, bread, and pasta.
Probiotics are not nutrients but are beneficial bacteria that naturally live in your body and provide a range of health benefits. Probiotics support the immune system and control inflammation. Other benefits of probiotics include food digestion, medication absorption and maintaining normal bacterial balance in the vaginal and urinary tracts.
Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fiber daily helps to keep the amount of probiotics at proper levels. Good sources of probiotics include yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, kombucha, fermented pickles, kimchi and miso soup.
Being familiar with the types and amounts of nutrients necessary for your age range is key to planning a well balanced meal.
If you experience difficulties swallowing or require food thickeners, speak to a certified speech therapist for a detailed assessment before preparing your meals.