Common Nutrient Deficiencies for Australian Women

By Cheryl le Roux

Are you getting all your required nutrients from your diet? The statistics indicate “no”, with 9 in 10 (91%) of Australian adults not consuming the recommended number of serves of vegetables and just over 1 in 2 (55%) not eating the recommended number of serves of fruit.1

Nutrients of concern include calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. The intake of calcium for both males and females has been found to be less than the daily estimated average requirement (EAR).2 Various dietetic investigations have shown that about 20% or people constantly consume lower quantities of magnesium than recommended.3 While just under one in four Australian adults (23%) have a vitamin D deficiency, with rates being higher in winter.4

Nutrient deficiencies impact the health of the entire body and its systems. This is reflected in the 2022 Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey, of 14,000+ respondents, where Australian women revealed they no longer view their health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ compared to five years ago and showed a trend towards more women experiencing health problems, particularly younger women.5

Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients that are important to a healthy functioning body in some of the key health concerns for women under 50.

Energy and Vitality

The nutrients that fuel the mitochondrial structures of cells to produce energy for the body to function are vitamins B2 and B3. Vitamins B5, B6, B9 and B12 are supportive to the nervous system and also assist in feeling more energised.

For improved absorption and utilisation, the active, or more biologically available, forms of these B vitamins are recommended: pyridoxal-5-phosphate (B6), methylcobalamin (B12) and levomefolic acid (also known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF)) (B9/folate).

Quatrefolic® is the glucosamine salt of 5-MTHF and is structurally analogous to the reduced and active form of folic acid that is naturally present in the body and available for its biological action. It has greater stability, higher water solubility compared to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate calcium salt for improved bioavailability.6

Iron is a major component of haemoglobin, a type of protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of the body. Without enough iron, there aren’t enough red blood cells to transport oxygen, which can lead to fatigue.7

The ferrous bisglycinate form of iron is claimed to have better patient compliance because of fewer gastrointestinal side-effects, as well as improved iron absorption, storage and increased haemoglobin levels than the conventionally used iron salts.8,9

Bone Health

A diet deficient in calcium can lead to osteoporosis in later life. Clinical studies have shown that algae-sourced calcium is highly bioavailable, with better absorption when compared to commonly used calcium salts for promoting bone health.10  

Vitamin D3 has not only shown benefits to bone health, including helping calcium absorption, but has other health benefits as well such as supporting the immune system.11

One of the many roles of magnesium in the body is also to help maintain healthy bones. It has been shown that low magnesium intake is related to the presence of osteoporosis and that 30-40% of people (mainly menopausal women) have low magnesium levels.3

The active form of vitamin K2, menaquinone-7 (MK-7), is the most bioavailable, longest lasting and most bioactive form of vitamin K2. It has been shown to increase bone mineral density, and promote bone quality and strength.12,13

Hair, Skin and Nails

The most common nutrient deficiencies that lead to abnormal cutaneous signs involving the skin, hair and nails include the B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, zinc, iron, copper, selenium and essential fatty acids.14

Zinc is also a pivotal mineral in many body systems, zinc deficiency signs include hair loss, changes in nail health and skin sores taking a long time to heal.15

Metabolism and Blood Sugar Balance

Dietary chromium is poorly absorbed and chromium levels decrease with age. Studies show that chromium in its picolinate form is the most efficacious for supplementation to improve the regulation of insulin and blood glucose control, and for assisting metabolism.16

*References Available on Request

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