According to recent data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, many women in the United Kingdom are deficient in these three essential nutrients. This post reveals the nutrients and the best food sources.
Taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement isn’t necessary if you eat a healthy diet yet many of us are deficient in specific nutrients, suggesting that our diets are not as healthy as they can be or that we’re not eating enough of certain foods to meet our requirements.
Here are the three essential nutrients adult women in the UK are commonly deficient in and where to get them.
1 | Iron
Iron is an important part of haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your red blood cells from your lungs to every cell in your body, and so helps your body produce energy. Iron also helps to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, supports brain development and maintains a healthy immune system.
According to data from the recent national diet and nutrition survey in the UK, 25% of women of aged 19-64 years have iron intakes below the lower recommended nutrient intake. And 5% of adult women have iron-deficiency anaemia, which is characterised by low haemoglobin levels and low iron stores (plasma ferritin).
You can boost your iron intake by eating more liver, mussels, lean red meat, beans, lentils, dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. When eating plant-based iron sources like beans and lentils, pair them with vitamin C rich foods to increase iron absorption.
2 | Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus and deposits them in bones and teeth, keeping them strong. It also helps to regulate cell growth and plays a role in immunity.
According to the NDNS, 16% of adults aged 19 to 64 years and 13% of adults aged over 65 years have low vitamin D status even considering seasonal variations.
Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, which unfortunately is only available during the summer months in temperate regions. Besides, vitamin D is present in limited foods. Fatty fish is the best source, but it is present in milk, liver, fortified breakfast cereals and UV-treated mushrooms.
In the UK, we highly recommend taking a 10mcg vitamin D supplement daily during the winter months, especially if you have darker skin, stay indoors mostly or cover your skin for religious or medical reasons.
My favourite vitamin D supplement is from Nutriburst. Their vitamins are all vegan and sugar-free and come in an easy to eat gummy. There’s some evidence that vitamin D in a gummy is more bioavailable than pills or tablets.
3 | Folate
Folate is important for DNA production and repair. It works with vitamin B12 to make haemoglobin in red blood cells and prevent anaemia. It helps to lower the risk of delivering a baby with a brain or spinal-cord defect such as spina bifida and it control plasma homocysteine levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
NDNS data shows that 89% of women of childbearing age (defined as 16 to 49 years) have blood folate levels below the threshold indicating a raised risk of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.
You can boost your folate intake by eating more dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas. Asparagus, spinach, liver and brussels sprouts are some of the best folate sources. We also recommend women of childbearing age take a folate supplement especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.
And there you have it, the three nutrients you could be missing and where to get them. Don’t forget to look up Nutriburst vitamins, if you need a vegan, sugar-free vitamin D gummy. You can save 15% off Nutriburst’s range using my code SOMI15.
If you want to learn how to eat a healthy balanced diet tailored to your unique needs and dietary preferences that helps you lower inflammation, break the diet cycle, maintain a healthy weight and rebalance your hormones, click on the link in my bio to book a 15-minute discovery call to learn how I can support you.
Public Health England (2020). NDNS: results from years 9 to 11 (combined) – statistical summary. Accessed: 17 July 2021. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/ndns-results-from-years-9-to-11-2016-to-2017-and-2018-to-2019/ndns-results-from-years-9-to-11-combined-statistical-summary#micronutrients-and-blood-or-urine-analytes