5 important nutrients for women’s health

Written by Lauren Campestre

Dietitian, Sprout Food Group

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in achieving and maintaining optimal health. We explore 5 essential nutrients for women's health.

1. Calcium - Building Strong Bones

Calcium isn't just for kids; it's crucial for women of all ages! This mineral is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. Because of the hormonal changes that occur during menopause, women compared to men are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition characterised by fragile bones. To combat this risk, it's essential to get enough calcium to build and maintain strong bones throughout your life. The richest source of calcium is dairy products however it can also be found in dark leafy greens, almonds, firm tofu, and fortified breakfast cereals. Meeting your calcium requirements between the ages of 19 and 50 can be as easy as one cup of milk, 2 slices of cheese and 50g of almonds.

2. Iron - Fuelling Your Energy

Iron is essential for maintaining energy levels and plays a vital role in the production of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout your body. Women require more iron than men, especially those who experience heavy periods resulting in iron loss. Lean red meat and other animal proteins are the richest sources of iron, however plant-based options are also available, including beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, causing fatigue and weakness, so it's crucial to meet your iron needs.

3. Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and overall bone health, therefore ensuring you get enough vitamin D is also essential for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Many women, especially those who spend a lot of time inside (e.g. office workers), may be deficient in this vitamin. Engaging in safe sun exposure is one of the main ways to obtain good levels of vitamin D however, another excellent way is to sunbake your mushrooms… yes you read that right! Like our skin, when exposed to sunlight (UV light) mushrooms create vitamin D. A 100g serve of mushrooms left in the sun for 15 minutes can provide up to 100% of your daily vitamin needs1. So, next time you're at home on a sunny day, stick your mushrooms out in the sun to collect those rays!

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – The Super Nutrient

Found in foods like oily fish and walnuts, omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower triglyceride levels, and possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce joint pain and inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis. This super nutrient can also ease menstrual discomfort and cramps.

With women experiencing higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to men2, there is also some evidence to support omega-3 consumption is beneficial to mood disorders.3,4

5. Folate (Folic Acid) - A Must for pregnancy

If you're planning to fall pregnant, folate, also known as folic acid, should definitely be a nutrient on your radar. This B-vitamin is vital for preventing neural tube defects in developing fetuses during the early stages of pregnancy. Foods rich in folate include dark leafy greens, legumes, beans, and fortified cereals. For those planning to conceive, it's recommended to take folic acid supplements in combination with a folate rich diet for three months prior to conception to ensure adequate intake.

Take home message

These essential nutrients are just some of the many required for optimal health and wellbeing. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the details, we’d recommend aiming for a balanced and varied diet as the first step towards achieving this goal! It’s important to remember that nutritional needs vary across our lifetime, and from person to person, so if you’re in need of personalised support, please consult with a dietitian.

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  1. Cardwell G., Bornman J.F. et al, 2018. ‘A review of mushrooms as a potential source of dietary vitamin D’, Nutrients 10(10), <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/>

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2022, ‘National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing’,

  3. Lange, K 2020, ‘Omega-3 fatty acids and mental health', Global Health Journal, <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S241464472030004X>

  4. Liao, Y, Xie, B, Zhang, H. et al 2019, ‘Efficacy of omega-3 PUFAs in depression: A meta-analysis’, Translational Psychiatry 9, <https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-019-0515-5>

Posted: Feb 28 2024


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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