Women have specific nutrient needs that are different from men. The supplements below have been specifically designed to help women's health including such issues as pregnancy and fertility, PMS, menopause, sexual health and multivitamins specifically designed to meet the needs of women, providing those vital nutrients for all stages of a women's life.
Women’s nutritional needs change during menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. A woman’s reproductive life means that her nutritional needs differ greatly from those of a man.
With the popularity of crash dieting in many places, nutritional deficiencies are common, especially among young women. Good nutrition means eating a wide variety of foods every day, which isn’t possible on a restrictive diet.
Read more below the product listing.
Nutrition and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
The interplay of hormones throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle affects her body and state of mind. Energy intakes are generally higher in the premenstrual phase and some women also have food cravings as their period approaches.
Eating high-protein foods every few hours can often temper or stop food cravings. This should not be done at the expense of other food groups, especially carbohydrates, which should form the basis of the diet.
Fluid retention is common in the days leading up to a woman’s period because certain hormones encourage the body to hold salt (sodium). The more sodium the body holds, the more fluid is retained in the tissues.
Other common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) include moodiness, tiredness and constipation. Taking B-group vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, may help, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Light to moderate exercise, such as a 30-minute brisk walk each day, has also been shown to noticeably reduce symptoms of PMS.
Iron and anaemia
Iron is a mineral that works with other substances to create haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood. Women and men metabolise iron from food at roughly the same rate. However, while men need around 8 mg of iron in their daily diet, women need up to 18 mg (or 27 mg if pregnant).
Women need more iron than men to make up for the amount of iron they lose in their menstrual period. Around 1 mg of iron is lost for every day of bleeding.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in women. Insufficient iron can lead to anaemia. Common symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and breathlessness. Iron is especially important during pregnancy.
Sources of iron
Good dietary iron sources include:
- Red meat, chicken and fish
- Fortified cereals
- Legumes and nuts
- Leafy green vegetables.
Iron absorption can be impaired by very high-fibre diets, alcohol, the tannic acid in tea and concentrated sources of calcium (for example, calcium supplements).
Vitamins, minerals and pregnancy
Eating healthily during pregnancy is important to meet the nutritional needs of the developing baby and for the mother’s own wellbeing. However, this doesn’t mean ‘eating for two’ – it is the quality of the diet that is important, not the quantity of food eaten.
Eating a variety of foods from each of the key food groups is generally enough to meet both mother and baby’s requirements. Special attention should be given to calcium, folic acid (folate), iron, zinc. Iodine and vitamin C.
Although a developing baby needs a lot of calcium, physiological changes during pregnancy help to protect the mother’s bones, so there is no need for extra dietary calcium during pregnancy. However, it is important to include at least two to three serves of dairy products or equivalent high-calcium foods every day.
Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt and fish with edible bones (for example, salmon and sardines).
Folic acid (folate)
Extra folic acid is needed for the development and growth of new cells. Research suggests that insufficient folic acid at the time of conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects in the unborn baby.
Folate is present in a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as legumes, nuts, yeast extracts such as Vegemite, and fortified foods such as bread and some breakfast cereals.
Iron requirements increase significantly during pregnancy as maternal blood volume increases and the baby’s blood system is developing. Iron deficiency in pregnant women increases the risk of having a preterm or low birth weight baby, which can have a negative impact on the short and long-term health of the baby.
The best source of iron is red meat, with smaller amounts in chicken and fish. Iron is also present in plant foods such as legumes, nuts, wholegrain breads and cereals, and green leafy vegetables, but it is not absorbed as well from these foods.
Eating foods rich in Vitamin C alongside iron-rich foods can improve iron absorption. Iron supplements are frequently prescribed for pregnant women if they are unable to meet their requirements through food alone.
This nutrient is needed to maintain the health of cells. Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so women taking iron supplements should continue to eat iron-rich foods, which are also a good source of zinc.