|Your Vitamin FIX
Consuming the right amounts of vitamins and minerals can make a major difference to your health status
Low Bone Density
The statistics say lower than normal bone mineral density, called osteopenia, affects 48 per cent of Australian women over the age of 50, with a further 23 per cent living with osteoporosis in the same age group.
You need: Calcium. The mineral that plays a vital role in building strong bones. Women need 1000mga day, increasing to 1300mg after the age of 50.
Eat: One serve of dairy provides about 300mg of calcium but other foods, including canned salmon with bones (402mg calcium in half-a-cup), fortified cereals (up to 200mg in one cup) and almonds (110mg in a 50g serve) also contain calcium.
Think about a calcium supplement if: osteoporosis runs in the family or if you don't eat dairy. If you don't eat dairy, you need to be more aware of what it takes to meet daily requirements. Try to get most of your calcium from dietary sources, rather than a high-dose supplement.
Supplement tip! Make sure it contains vitamin D, and take it before bed.
You also need: Vitamin D. Without it, the body can't absorb calcium. Women need 5ug per day, increasing to 10up after you've turned 51 and 15ug after 70.
Eat: Oily fish and eggs – two of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. But obtain from dietary means alone, so getting some sun is your best bet.
You also need: Lycopene. Studies show it reduces osteoporosis risk by inhibiting 'bone desorption,' where bones lose their substance.
Eat: Tomatoes. To get your recommended daily 30mg lycopene, drink two glasses of tomato juice or include 60g of tomato paste in your cooking. One cup of raw tomato contains between 3.5-21mg, but cooking it for two minutes increases levels by 54 per cent.
The statistics says 20 per cent of women, are iron deficient, rising to 50 per cent in pregnancy. A lack of iron inhibits oxygen circulation, causing fatigue.
You need: Iron. 18mg a day, dropping to 8mg after you've turned 51.
Eat: Red meat (3.3mg iron in 100g steak), spinach (2.9mg iron in half-a-cup) and fortified cereals (3mg in two wholewheat biscuits). But iron is poorly absorbed. Only 10 to 35 per cent of haem iron (found in meat), and as little as two per cent of non-haem iron (found in veggies, cereals and nuts), is absorbed. For this reason rather than focusing on one food group, adequate iron intake can only be achieved by eating an overall healthy diet, which allows iron intake to accumulate.
Think about an iron supplement if: You have heavy periods, regularly feel tired despite sleeping well or are vegetarian. Because iron absorption isn't as good from vegetable sources, people who don't eat red meat may be at an increased risk.
Supplement tip! Before you self medicate, find out via a blood test whether you're low in iron because it's possible to overdo it.
You also need: Vitamin c. Which increases iron absorption, particularly of non-haem iron.
Eat: Two mandarins, 1.5 cups of tomatoes and half a large grapefruit contain the RDI 45mg of vitamin C.
The statistics say 93 per cent of Australians felt stressed in 2011, with 52 per cent of women experiencing high stress levels.
You need: B vitamins. Increasing vitamin B intake significantly reduces work-related stress, which affects 27 per cent of women. Vitamin B, which is found in whole, unprocessed foods is integral to the synthesis of neurotransmitters critical to psychological wellbeing.
Eat: Meat, green vegetables and wholegrains. There are eight B vitamins, and you need different amounts of each, every day. As a guide, half-a-cup of cooked asparagus contains 20 per cent of the RDI for folate, 45g of wholegrain cereal contains 38 per cent of your daily riboflavin requirements, and 100g of lean beef contains 45 per cent of your B12 needs.
Think about vitamin b supplement if: you regularly drink alcohol or don't like raw veggies, with both heat and alcohol being natural enemies of B vitamins. The reality is that most people don't get enough vitamin B from their diet, so are turning to supplementation.
Supplement tip! B vitamins work best when they stick together.
You also need: Vitamin C. People who are highly stressed are at risk of being deficient as adrenal glands use vitamin C. Stress also depletes the immune system, which vitamin C helps to counteract.
Eat: Green capsicum: (a half cup provides 93 per cent of the vitamin C), kiwifruit (one contains 23 per cent more than the RDI) and broccoli (a half cup of the cooked vegetable provides 64 per cent of daily vitamin C requirements.)
The Statistics say there are more than 150 symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which affects 75 per cent of reproductive-aged women.
You need: Magnesium. A UK study found that after two months of taking a daily 200mg magnesium supplement, PMS-related fluid retention reduced by a third. Later research showed how, combined with B6, magnesium also cut pre-period anxiety levels by nearly 50 per cent.
Eat: Tofu (200g serve contains 222mg of magnesium), almonds (50g serve contains 135mg) and brown rice (100g serve contain 88mg).
You also need: Calcium. US scientists discovered that, in combination with adequate vitamin D, consuming 1200mg of calcium a day lowered the risk of PMS.
Eat: 200g tub low-fat yogurt + 100g tinned sardines + 1 glass of low-fat milk + 50g almonds + one tablespoon tahini = 1200mg calcium.
The statistics show 75 per cent of women experience thrush at least once.
You need: Zinc. Low immunity is a risk factor for thrush, so boost yours by consuming the recommended 8mg zinc daily, which improves the body's ability to fight infection.
Eat: 1oyster, 3 tablespoons of cooked crab and 100g of lean beef plus 50g of cashews, all contain at least 8mg of zinc.
You also need: Vitamin A. To keep your immune system well balanced. You need 700g per day.
Eat: Carrots – a medium one contains 2000g.
Think about a zinc supplement if: you're often laid low with a col. It's available over the counter but do not take too much. There's a taste test that healthcare practitioners use to assess zinc levels. It's worth having this done.
Supplement tip! Zinc competes with iron for absorption so do not take it for at least two hours after eating an iron-rich meal.