You are what you eat, right? It doesn’t take a nutritionist to tell you that if you want to be healthy you should consume nutrient-rich foods and take daily vitamins. But still, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, many Americans do not meet recommendations for all of the nutrient-rich food groups, except total grains and meat and beans.
The Ritual vitamin company is trying to help women get much-needed nutrients with Ritual’s Essential for Women Vitamin ($30/month). This vitamin contains nine essential nutrients most women are missing: vitamin D3, vitamin E, vitamin K2, folate, vitamin B12, magnesium, iron, boron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
We’ve all heard of these vitamins and minerals before, but what changes can you make to your diet to absorb these nutrients from the food you eat? We can’t survive on vitamins alone! Ritual founder and CEO Katerina Schneider suggests eating raw whole plant foods to get the most nutrients out of your diet (except for legumes like beans, which are better cooked).
Schneider explains, “Raw foods have the most vitamins and minerals. You need to mix and match a lot of different foods to get the full spectrum of essential nutrients. We could all use more green vegetables in our diets like kale and collard greens to get the much-needed folate. We also don’t eat very many fermented foods in the US, but foods like natto [a Japanese soy fermented superfood] are rich in K2-MK7.”
Here’s a breakdown of the nine essential vitamins most women are missing and the best way to add these nutrients into your diet.
Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and promote bone growth. It also can reduce your risk of flu, diabetes, and cancer. Exposure to sunlight is one source, and some mushrooms might contain it, but it’s actually the hardest vitamin to get from food, especially if you’re vegan. Only animal foods, mostly liver, are a good source. Milk, while it doesn’t naturally contain vitamin D, is often fortified with it. “Vitamin D is also absorbed better coupled with healthy fat, which is one reason why Ritual adds oily nutrients into a vegetarian omega-3 oil,” explains Schneider.
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and helps to protect cells from damage. It aids in balancing cholesterol, repairs damaged skin, thickens hair, balances hormones, and improves vision, and it can even help with PMS. You can absorb this vitamin through food by eating nuts, seeds, and broccoli. Vitamin E, along with vitamins B and D, are lost the more a food is cooked, while fiber is easier to digest from cooked foods. Schneider suggests eating nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables raw, while grains and animal foods should be cooked as little as possible.
Vitamin K2-MK7 is essential for a healthy heart, brain, and bones, as well as oral health. It can also reduce varicose veins and cancer risks, and can aid in longevity. You can get it from hard cheeses, grass-fed butter, and egg yolks. If you’re vegan, Schneider says it’s impossible to get from eating foods other than natto.
Folate can actually help prevent cancer as it helps the body produce and maintain new cells. Ritual uses MTHF, an active form of folate that can bypass common genetic issues (like bad cholesterol or heart problems ) that suppress folate function. Foods like avocado, chickpeas or hummus, kale, and lentils are super rich in MTHF folate.
B12 helps maintain energy level, boosts mood, aids in digestion, maintains a healthy heart, and keeps your hair and skin healthy. You can get B12 from Nori seaweed or fortified food like cereals, but the body absorbs it best when taken as a supplement or shot.
Magnesium regulates your muscle and nerve functions, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. You can find it in avocados, chickpeas or hummus, cashews, brown rice, edamame, nuts, and seeds. One of Schneider’s favorite breakfasts that’s rich in magnesium is millet with kabocha squash, sesame seeds, and avocado oil. Yum!
If Popeye taught us anything, it’s that we need our iron! After all, it improves muscle function, boosts hemoglobin formation, and increases brain function, and it can treat anemia and restless leg syndrome and even cure chronic diseases. We know you can get it from spinach, but you can also absorb iron from lentils, quinoa, and tofu.
There’s nothing boring about boron. It actually helps you concentrate, strengthens your bones, balances hormones, heals skin, and prevents infections — it even prevents and treats yeast infections! You can get it from raisins, grapes, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, lentils, and WINE. Yes, you read that right. Cheers!
Studies have found that omega-3 can help with arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD. If you’re vegan, you can get it from foods like chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts, which are rich in omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are most often found in fish sources, like fish oil. Ritual uses a vegan oil from algae so vegans can get DHA and EPA, since it’s almost nonexistent in vegan diets.
By taking vitamins and eating the right foods, hopefully, you’ll be able to remedy any deficiencies and get all the nutrients you need as a woman for your optimal health, energy, and mood.
Do you take vitamins? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
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(Photos via Ritual; featured photo via Getty)