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3 Vital Nutrients Every Woman Needs In 2023

vital nutrients

Everyone needs vital nutrients from foods like proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and fruits packed with antioxidants. However, women need more nutrients at different stages of their lives. The three vital nutrients for women are calcium, iron, and folic acid. Read on to find out why these nutrients are so important for women’s health, how much you should have each day, and how you can include them in your daily meals and snacks.


Calcium is a crucial mineral that helps build bones, teeth, and tissues. It also aids in muscle function, blood vessel movement, and hormone production. Adults typically need about 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Kids aged 9 to 18 need 1300 mg daily for growth, which is also the amount needed by pregnant and breastfeeding women to support their baby’s growth. Women over 50 should aim for 1200 mg daily because as we age, our body absorbs less calcium, which can lead to weaker bones or osteoporosis.

You should consume vitamin D daily or absorb adequate sunlight each day to help aid in the absorption of calcium in the body. You can take a calcium supplement in the form of a chewable, tablet, or multivitamin daily to help meet your nutrient needs, or you can consume certain calcium-rich foods regularly like:

  • dairy products
  • calcium-fortified plant-based milk or juices
  • soy-based foods like tofu or soybeans
  • calcium-fortified cereals


Iron is a vital mineral that our bodies need to survive. It helps make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to our tissues and organs. Iron also plays a key role in growth, hormone production, and brain development.

Women need more iron during their menstrual years because they lose some through bleeding. During this time, they should aim for 18 mg of iron each day. Pregnant women need even more, about 27 mg daily, to meet their baby’s needs and their own. If they’re expecting more than one baby, they’ll need even more. Outside of these life stages, women should aim to get around 8 to 10 mg of iron daily when they’re teenagers, breastfeeding, or over 50.

You can consume iron in the form of a separate supplement or in certain prenatal multivitamin formulations. Iron is in some gummy vitamin forms, but it can have a metallic taste that can be off-putting. If you do not prefer to take an iron supplement, you can consume iron in certain foods like:

  • peas
  • beans
  • lentils
  • tofu
  • animal products like meat, poultry, and seafood
  • iron-fortified cereals

Folic Acid

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is found in supplements and fortified foods. It’s key for making DNA and RNA and breaking down amino acids. It can also help prevent anemia and heart disease.

For women, folic acid is crucial as it can prevent birth defects like neural tube defects and cleft palate. So, it’s important for women to take it before getting pregnant. Teens and adults generally need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day. Pregnant women should aim for at least 600 mcg daily, and nursing mothers need about 500 mcg daily.

Folic acid is in certain multivitamins and can be taken in a separate supplement form. However, you can also consume folic acid in the form of certain foods like:

  • beef liver
  • leafy greens like lettuce, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, and spinach
  • folic acid-fortified cereals
  • beans
  • rice
  • enriched pasta

How to Add Important Nutrients to Your Daily Routine

A convenient way to add these three vital nutrients to your daily routine is through dietary supplements. But if there is any reason you cannot take a dietary supplement, such as a swallowing issue, or if you feel like you would not remember to take supplements daily, then you can always add such nutrients to your meals and snacks. Here are a few ways you can add calcium, iron, and folic acid to your daily meals and snacks for optimal nutrition benefits:


  • Enjoy yogurt with granola or berries as a snack or light breakfast.
  • Drink calcium-fortified milk or plant-based milk with meals or pour milk over cereal for breakfast or a snack.
  • Sprinkle cheese over salads or soup, or add sliced cheese to sandwiches for lunch.


  • Have iron-fortified breakfast cereal for breakfast.
  • Add beans, peas, or lentils to soups or sprinkle chickpeas on salads.
  • Dice and scramble tofu with olive oil and seasonings for a unique protein for any mealtime
  • Enjoy spinach raw in salads or cooked in omelets, soups, or as a side dish in meals.

Folic acid

  • Roast leafy green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli or steam spinach to add a nutrient-dense side dish to any meal.
  • Consume beans or peas with rice for a simple meal or side dish with rice in folic acid AND iron.
  • Use folic acid-fortified breakfast cereal for a simple and convenient nutrient-dense meal.


When it comes to women’s health, calcium, iron, and folic acid are essential nutrients for growth and development. Women need more of these vital nutrients at different stages of their lives. While supplements offer a convenient way to get your daily fill of essential vitamins and minerals, food is the best source for getting your vital nutrition each day. Try adding these nutrient-dense foods to your meals and snacks to get the most health benefits. 

To ensure that your levels of such nutrients are within normal range, you should visit your doctor’s office at least once a year to have lab testing of calcium, iron, and folate. If your nutrient levels are out of range, your healthcare provider can suggest the proper treatment plan to help ensure optimal health outcomes.

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