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“Every year, there’s more promising research revealing how nutrients can have a significant positive impact on disease prevention and general well-being in women” – Ann Yelmokas McDermott, Ph.D., M.S., L.N., a nutrition scientist at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, Tufts University, Boston.

This women’s month, we thought we’d shed some light on a topic that has only recently gained public interest, concern and backing: women’s health.

And while you may have a solid self-care Sunday ritual and a strong self-love selfie game, you may still be lacking six nutrients that are crucial to a woman’s optimal health:

1. Folic Acid

Folic acid is the synthetic form of “folate” – a B vitamin found naturally in food – and is crucial for the creation and maintenance of healthy cells and DNA. It also lowers your homocysteine levels, an amino acid in the blood linked to dementia, cognitive impairment, stroke and heart disease, and is even suggested to have antidepressant and anti-cancer properties, though research is preliminary and ongoing.

To uptake your folic acid intake, stock up on dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and fortified bread, cereal and pasta.

2. Calcium

Most of us know that calcium is crucial for healthy bone growth and preventing osteoporosis, or bone loss, which affects millions of women worldwide.

But what most people don’t know is that calcium may also help prevent breast cancer, as a 2005 study conducted at the American Cancer Society reported that postmenopausal women who consumed more than 1,250 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day were 20% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who consumed less than 500mg daily. Additionally, a 2005 study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that women with a diet rich in both calcium and vitamin D, (a nutrient crucial for calcium absorption) were less likely to experience premenstrual syndrome.

Calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy products, almonds, and certain dark greens like kale and broccoli.

3. Vitamin D

Although it’s classified as a vitamin, vitamin D is technically more of a hormone. When converted into its most biologically active form, calciferol, vitamin D helps the intestines absorb more calcium from food, making it an essential vitamin for the prevention of osteoporosis.

As it’s one of the few nutrients your body makes naturally using the sun’s rays, regularly basking, (not baking) in the sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes is a great way to get your daily D. The vitamin is also found in organic dairy products, fortified cereals and fatty fish like anchovies and salmon.

For a combination of Calcium and Vitamin D, take Releaf Calcium Complex with Vitamin D3, a product of natural origin that can assist with the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

4. Iron

This mineral helps your body’s blood supply deliver oxygen to cells, which is essential because almost two-thirds of your body’s iron supply is found in haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. For that reason, iron is key to preventing fatigue, something which we’re sure you’ll agree is a common problem for women. If left untreated, consistently low levels of iron can cause anaemia, another condition commonly found in women.

5. Fibre

Both soluble and insoluble fibre sources are passed through, not absorbed, by your body, so not all science nerds agree that fibre qualifies as a nutrient. Either way, you can’t ignore its importance.

Unlike folic acid, fibre’s benefits aren’t for women only. While soluble fibre stops unhealthy cholesterol from being absorbed by your intestines and thus helps reduce the risk of heart disease, insoluble fibre grooves through your body like a Black Coffee tune; cleaning out your digestive tract and ensuring you “stay regular” (everybody poops). Fibre is also digested more slowly, keeping you fuller for longer and maintaining your energy levels.

Load up on fibre with foods like wholegrain pasta and bread, popcorn, fruit, vegetables and legumes.

6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Considered a “good” fat, (a.k.a. Phat), omega-3 fatty acids are essential for decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of dangerous cardiovascular conditions like stroke and heart disease.

Your body cannot convert other types of fat molecules into the omega-3 form; they can only be supplied by foods like salmon, red tuna, sardines and anchovies. Sooo…anyone for self-care sushi?

For a natural multivitamin that helps you take care of yourself, look out for Releaf Multivitamin with Green Rooibos Tea (GRT), a natural source of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health. Contributing to the normal function of the immune system, Releaf Multivitamin with Green Rooibos Tea (GRT) contains Folic Acid, Iron, Calcium and amongst all the vitamins and minerals that are essential to a healthy body.

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