Have you ever wondered why vitamin and nutrition companies often label some vitamins as a “women’s blend” and others as “made for men”?
While there are a lot of unnecessary products marketed along sex and gender lines, this is one area where these differences might be merited, as there are certain nutrients which women are more likely to be deficient in.
It’s a good idea to visit a women’s health naturopathic clinic to recognize the signs of these common nutrient deficiencies, and how to remedy them.
Keep reading to learn more about five common nutrients you should probably be getting more of.
Iron is carried through the body on red blood cells, which means a loss of blood can result in iron deficiency.
This puts people who menstruate at a higher risk for iron deficiency, due to the loss of blood which comes with the monthly menstrual cycle.
Due to this fact, it is especially important for people who menstruate to ensure they are getting enough iron in their diets.
What Happens When You’re Iron Deficient
Low iron levels can result in low red blood cell count, also known as anemia.
Symptoms of anemia include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Weakness and dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle nails
A swollen, sore tongue
Dietary Sources Of Iron
If you want to get iron from food, some of the best sources include:
- Lean beef
- Lentils and beans
- Fortified cereal
- Dark, leafy greens
The amount of iron which can be absorbed by the body is affected by what you eat with it.
Foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, can help promote iron absorption in the body, however, calcium can inhibit the absorption of iron.
Although vitamin D can be produced in the body when we are exposed to sunlight, many people are deficient in this important nutrient.
What Happens When You’re Vitamin D Deficient?
A lack of vitamin D is associated with the following risks:
- Chronic fatigue
- Hair loss
- Type 2 diabetes
- Rickets in children
- Depression, especially in individuals with polycystic ovary syndrome
- Poor bone health
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin D
One of the best ways to get vitamin D is sun exposure (15 to 30 minutes per day), however, this can be difficult for those living in cold climates.
Additionally, sun exposure comes with a heightened risk of skin cancer or sunburn.
Furthermore, most sunscreens block the ability of the skin to absorb vitamin D.
For these reasons, many people will choose to get vitamin D in their diet, rather than relying on sun exposure alone.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include:
- Fortified orange juice
- Egg yolks
- Canned tuna
An important mineral for bone health is calcium.
In children, it helps with bone growth, and as we age it’s vital for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
Too much calcium can lead to heart disease and kidney stones, so if you are considering a calcium supplement it is best to discuss this with your naturopathic doctor first.
What Happens When You’re Calcium Deficient
Low calcium levels can leave you at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Unfortunately, as there are not any other signs to watch for, most people will not realize they are deficient until it is too late.
Dietary Sources Of Calcium
A few great dietary sources of calcium include:
- Milk and milk alternatives, cheese, and other dairy products
- Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, and broccoli (but not spinach)
- Soy beans
- Sardines, anchovies, and other fish where you eat the bones
Vitamin B12 has a number of important roles in the body, and of all of the B-vitamins, it’s the one people are most likely to be deficient in.
It plays roles in the creation of red blood cells, neurological function, as well as promotes gut health and digestion.
One of the causes of the increase in vitamin B12 deficiency is the rise of vegetarian diets.
What Happens When You’re Vitamin B12 Deficient?
Some signs to watch out for, which indicate vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in the hands, legs, and feet
- Brain fog
- Swollen tongue
Dietary Sources Of Vitamin B12
If you are looking to get more vitamin B12 in your diet, consider adding the following:
- Sockeye salmon
- Organ meats such as liver and kidney
- Fortified cereal
- Fortified nutritional yeast
- Milk and dairy products
As you can see, the vast majority of foods containing vitamin B12 are animal products.
For this reason, vegetarians or vegans may want to speak to their naturopathic doctor about taking a B12 supplement.
Iodine plays an important role in the development of thyroid hormones.
Iodine is particularly important for pregnant individuals, as iodine deficiency can result in intellectual disabilities for the fetus.
What Happens When You’re Iodine Deficient?
Iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid to work harder, as it tries to overcompensate for low levels of this mineral.
This results in goiter, or swelling of the throat.
Other symptoms of low iodine, also known as hypothyroidism, include:
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold
- Thinning hair
- Difficulty learning and remembering things
Dietary Sources Of Iodine
Although you may have heard that iodized salt is a good source of iodine, there are obvious downsides to relying on salt for the majority of your iodine intake.
Besides, it isn’t recommended to eat iodized salt as it results in thyroid dysfunction and other toxicities.
Food sources of iodine include:
- Dairy products
- Seafood and fish, such as cod, shrimp, and tuna
- Lima beans
Book An Appointment At The Mindful Healing Clinic
Are you worried about your nutrient intake?
Did reading this list make you realize you might be missing out on some important nutrients which your body needs?
The Mindful Healing Clinic can help.
Book an appointment with Dr. Maria to determine any areas where your diet might be lacking, and create a plan to help ensure you are getting all of the nutrients you need to thrive.
Contact us today for more information, or to set up an appointment.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.