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  • Writer's pictureJessica Mckasson

The 5 small but mighty micronutrients most women are missing, but desperately need.

I think it's fair to say that as women, we often oftentimes find ourselves juggling numerous responsibilities and wearing many different hats. And because of this, we can find ourselves in the predicament of neglecting to take care of ourselves because we are so busy taking care of everyone and everything else. As a result, it is quite common for women to experience nutrient deficiencies that can undermine our vitality and leave us feeling drained. From iron to calcium and beyond, let's delve into the world of common nutrient deficiencies that women often experience and explore the factors contributing to them. And most importantly, find out what you can do to ensure you are getting all the lovely little micronutrients that your body needs so that you can feel your best!

Common Deficiencies and how to balance them:

1. Iron: Women naturally have higher iron requirements due to menstruation and the potential for pregnancy. Menstrual blood loss can lead to iron depletion, making it important to replenish these stores through diet or supplementation. Picture this: you're busy being superwoman, but suddenly your superpowers seem to be running on low battery. Fatigue, heart palpitations, thinning hair or brittle hair, difficulty concentrating, and brain fog are all signs of iron deficiency. But fret not! Beef up your iron levels by adding in lean meats such as grass-fed beef, leafy green veggies, and legumes into to your diet. Popeye was definitely onto something with his spinach obsession. You can also boost your iron absorption by pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin C rich foods like oranges and strawberries! While you can take an iron supplement if absolutely needed, iron supplements can often times cause constipation, so it' s better to get it directly from the food source.

2. Calcium: An absolutely vital micronutrient for women's bone health, especially during adolescence and menopause. Restrictive diets are often the cause of why women aren't getting enough calcium. We all want bones of steel, right? But weak and brittle bones can make us feel more like a jellyfish and leave our arms and legs feeling tingly. You might also experience frequent muscle cramps of muscle spasms. Say hello to calcium deficiency. Leafy green veggies, dairy, plant milks, and nuts are an excellent sources of natural calcium. For reference, we want to be intaking approx. 1,000 mg of calcium per day to ensure our bones stay strong. A cup of yogurt has around 300mg, a serving of almonds has about 75mg, a serving of broccoli is about 30mg, to give you some context. If you struggle to get enough in your diet, you may want to add calcium supplement. Ensuring that you get enough calcium now is going to make sure you keep your bones strong so that you don't run the risk of developing osteoporosis later on.

3. Vitamin D: Women, in particular, experience more limited sun exposure than men do, which oftentimes leads to a Vitamin D deficiency. And historically, women have been more engaged in skincare routines and have shown greater concern for sun protection and anti-aging measures. Hence limited sun exposure. And since the sun is a primary source of vitamin D synthesis in the body, these factors can contribute to lower vitamin D levels, which play a crucial role in calcium absorption and overall health. You will know if you need some D in your life if you feel fatigued, weak, feel depressed or have a really low battery, or experience PMS. Low vitamin D levels are also now being linked to PCOS as 44% of women with PCOS also have insufficient Vitamin D. If the sun is scarce, incorporate vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish (salmon), egg yolks, and fortified dairy or plant-based milk into your diet. Consider adding a vitamin D supplement if you live in regions with limited sunlight. If you do go the supplement route, go with a supplement where you will get 2,000IU per day.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acid: Restrictive diets is also another cause for why so many women are not getting enough Fatty Omega 3's. When your omega 3 levels are too low, this can lead to hormone imbalances, fatigue, trouble sleeping, dry skin, depression, and menstrual cramps. But if you are getting enough of these good fats, it can help your mood, decrease stress levels, and ease period symptoms. One of the best sources of natural omega 3's is found in wild fatty fish such as salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, and omega 3 enriched eggs. If you find it difficult to get enough omega 3's in your diet, you can take a supplement of 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day.

5. Magnesium: There are so many different factors that can lead to a magnesium deficiency from experiencing too much stress, which is more common in women, to the fact that women have hormonal systems, that when out of balance don't allow our bodies to absorb this micronutrient. High levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) also deplete your magnesium levels. But magnesium is quite literally magic for our hormones AND it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Magnesium also calms the nervous system and promotes better sleep. Feeling bloated, trouble sleeping, breast tenderness, and high stress levels are all common symptoms of low magnesium levels. While it pains me to say this, caffeine is no bueno for hormones and depletes the micronutrients in our bodies from absorbing key micronutrients such as magnesium. To make sure you are getting enough magnesium in your diet, load up almonds, avocados, sunflower seeds, spinach and/or leafy greens, and black beans. And not to sound like a broken record, but if you are worried you aren't getting enough in your diet, you can take a magnesium supplement at low amounts (200mg or less).

So as you can see, these "micro" nutrients aren't so micro and they pack a big punch when it comes to our health and well-being. When we get enough of each of these micronutrients, we ensure that we are headed in the direction of feeling healthy and balanced. And all it takes is a little creativity and some simple tweaks to your meals and snacks and BOOM! You have just effortlessly supercharged your nutrition. So, let's raise our forks and toast to a nutritious journey filled with delicious, nutrient-packed adventures!

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