Moms and Dads

Essential Vitamins and Minerals That Keep Moms Healthy and Strong

Juggling parenting, work, and our passions isn’t easy! Here are vitamins and minerals that are essential to every mom (and woman, for that matter).

Working out is one way to build up our strength and keep our bodies in tip-top shape. But that always works hand-in-hand with a good diet. Otherwise, where would the energy to do those workouts come from?

Although motivation is a good source of energy, we still need food to fuel our bodies so we can do what we want to do. With that in mind, here are the essential vitamins and minerals for moms (and women in general) and where to find them.

1. Calcium

When we, as moms, start menopausing, that’s a sign that our bones won’t take in as much calcium as we used to. Because we’re no longer producing as much estrogen—the main female hormone—as we used to, it affects the process of our ability to absorb calcium.

This is why a lot of women aged 50 and above (or at least those who start menopausing early) find themselves getting sprains more frequently or fracturing their bones.

Although the most common source of calcium is milk, Asians (that includes us, Filipinas!) are usually lactose-intolerant. Eggshells, because they’re made of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), are tasteless but edible forms of calcium. Dry your eggshells, grind them into dust, and mix in rice, soup, or shakes for that extra dose of calcium.

Some studies have shown that eating tofu or drinking soy milk also helps. Because tofu or soy is rich in plant estrogens, it can help reduce menopausal symptoms in women and increase our ability to absorb calcium again! (Copeland, 1999; Ko and Kim, 2020)

However, some studies have warned about younger women eating too much tofu and soy because it may affect their ability to have kids due to reduced FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Lutein Hormone) (Kridawati, Rahardjo, Damanik, Hogervorst, 2019). They did note, however, that the experiments that used animals to prove this may not be so accurate since animals process these estrogens differently (Ko and Kim, 2020; Rizzo, Feraco, Storz, and Lombardo, 2022).

Foods rich in Calcium:

  • Milk: Cow’s milk is the usual source, but if not, soy milk is a good non-dairy substitute.
  • Eggshells: The recommended amount is 2.5 grams, which is around 1 whole egg.
  • Tofu or soy: This helps increase our bodies’ calcium absorption rate.
  • Fish: Salmon and sardines are usually rich in calcium, which are usually found in little fragile bones that we can crack easily. Time to stock up on those bottled sardines!

2. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 works alongside calcium to make sure our body gets everything. Think of Vitamin D3 like a key: if our cells don’t have Vitamin D3, they can’t open the door to let calcium strengthen our bones. Even more so because of the pandemic and our work-from-home set-up, we’re cut off from one of the main sources of Vitamin D3: sunlight. And although we can substitute it with pills, we don’t know if we absorb ALL of the Vitamin D3 in the pill. (Lips, 2006; Grossmann and Tangpricha, 2010)

Studies have even shown that if we don’t have Vitamin D3, we’re more prone to depression. That’s why we, moms, have to kick our kids out of their room and tell them to “go touch grass!”—to make sure they get their Vitamin D3!

But if we’re living in a condo, try doing some yoga or walking around on the rooftop. Some condos even have swimming pools which are just as engaging as any workout! (Penckofer, Kouba, Byrn, Estwing Ferrans, 2010; Menon, Kar, Suthar, Nebhinani, 2020)

To make sure our bodies absorb Vitamin D3 better, we have to eat a bit of fat. But we’re not talking about eating a whole bag of chicharon or lechong kawali! We’re talking about the “healthy fats,” which are usually found in nuts like cashews and almonds, seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds, and fatty fishes like Salmon and even Bangus.

That’s because Vitamin D3 is fat-soluble, meaning it mixes better with the fat and oils our cells store for extra energy.

Foods rich in Vitamin D3:

  • Egg: Eggs seem to have everything because if the shell has calcium, it’s the yolk that’s rich in Vitamin D3.
  • Fish: Salmon, tuna, and sardines are good sources of Vitamin D3. Spice up the Sinigang ng Salmon by adding different parts like the belly and head. To make it creamy, feel free to add a dollop of miso paste.
  • Cod Liver Oil: Whether you plan on eating fresh cod liver or taking the supplement equivalent to get its benefits, cod liver oil is a good source of vitamins A and D and a fat called omega-3.

3. Omega-3

As moms, it’s normal to be stressed, whether from handling the kids, our jobs, and the day-to-day affairs of the house. This causes our blood pressure to rise and leaves us open to heart attacks and aneurysms (exploding blood vessels). Even more so if we’re the hot-blooded and hot-tempered type (Toko et. al, 2020; Zheng et. al, 2022)!

Besides, our mental loads are taxing for our brains, which is what Omega-3 is supposed to repair or at least mitigate them. The myelin sheath (or what looks like casing) surrounding the tail of our brain cells is made of fatty substances, including Omega-3 (Dyall and Michael-Titus, 2008; Palacios-Pelaez, Lukiw, and Bazan, 2010; Pifferi, Cunnane, Guesnet, 2020). And when we eat more Omega-3, we help replenish that. Thus, we’ll have fewer instances of mom brain or brain fog!

Foods rich in Omega-3

  • Fish oil: Found in salmon, bangus, and mackerel.
  • Chia seeds: These can be mixed in water and can help in weight loss because they’re rich in fiber!
  • Edamame: Remember those green beans they serve in Japanese restaurants? Those are the ones! Make sure to peel it open and eat the contents. Don’t eat the skin!
  • Flaxseed: Just mix it with your rice, yogurt, or oatmeal and it’ll add that well-loved nutty note!

4. Folate

We often hear this vitamin and mineral as a must for expecting moms or moms-to-be. But that’s because Folate (otherwise known as Vitamin B9) is responsible for making sure our DNA works properly. After all, there are cases when our DNA doesn’t combine properly, leading to mutations that can be life-changing or life-threatening for developing babies.

Reemember that DNA has one simple rule: structure indicates function but not all structures are wanted.

Some genetic issues include spina bifida, wherein the neural connections of the spine aren’t working. If you remember Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo’s on-screen daughter, Zola, had Spina Bifida, which required a shunt to make sure her brain didn’t swell and ultimately kill her. Those with more severe cases of Spina Bifida need intense physical therapy to be able to walk.

Folate also helps our bodies break down amino acids—the building block of protein. So, if we’re doing a high-protein diet, folate helps it break down faster so we can use it for energy!

Foods rich in Folate

  • Leafy Vegetables: These include cabbage, kale, spinach, and kangkong.
  • Peas: The little green dots in our fried rice? Yes, those are like little “folate pills.”
  • Chickpeas or Garbanzos: Aside from being great source of fiber and protein, chickpeas contain folate.
  • Chicken Liver: Just take note that eating chicken liver while pregnant is ill-advised because it has too much Vitamin A. According to studies, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects that involving the brain.

5. Iron

Women need high amounts of iron because of the blood we lose during our periods every month. It’s also a must for expecting moms and moms-to-be because iron is responsible for making sure our blood transports the vitamins everywhere—including to the baby. If we’re working out often, we use up a lot of iron because it’s what transports the oxygen around so we don’t get cramps while working out.

Iron also helps us sleep better and reduces the dark rings under our eyes. So if we find ourselves waking up but still feeling tired, we might be low on iron.

Foods rich in Iron

  • Red Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, and goat are forms of red meat. Chicken and duck are not because they turn white when cooked.
  • Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios, which are available in the supermarket. If you’re fond of castañas (or chestnuts), those are rich in iron too!
  • Beans: These include kidney beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), and edamame.

6. Magnesium

As a vitamin, Magnesium plays a big role in many of our daily functions as moms. Some of us are prone to migraines because of the weather, hormone changes, stress, lack of sleep (which we’re sure most new moms have to deal with), and extreme changes in schedules. It’s why we keep a painkiller in our bags—to make sure we keep going despite it.

But with more Magnesium in our diets, the amount of migraines will lessen in both pain and frequency. And if we’re prone to painful cramps during our periods, magnesium softens the blow of that, too.

Magnesium also helps keep our moods stable because it helps break down Vitamin D, lowering our anxiety and depression (Penckofer, Kouba, Byrn, Estwing Ferrans, 2010; Botturi, Ciappolino, Delvecchio, Boscutti, Viscardi, and Brambilla, 2020).

Foods rich in Magnesium

  • Salmon: This versatile fish can be grilled or even baked and seasoned with herbs like rosemary, or even aromatics like garlic.
  • Spinach: More than magnesium, spinach is rich in many nutrients like carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.
  • Bananas: Beyond its magnesium-rich properties, this fleshy fruit is a mood booster, too!
  • Tamarind (Sampaloc): Guess it’s more sinigang ng sampaloc for dinner!
  • Okra: Some Japanese restaurants fry them up and make Tempura Okura, which is their way of saying Okra Tempura!
  • Brocolli: Brocolli appears to be in season right now, and farmers are selling them at good prices!

7. Lutein

Recently, studies have discovered that Lutein is essential to women’s health, especially for those who are known to suffer muscular diseases when they grow older. Its most prominent benefit is keeping our eyes healthy and considering how much time we spend in front of the computer to work, we’re going to need this! (Fuad, Sekar, Gan, Lum, Vaijanathappa, and Ravi, 2020).

And if we love the beach, Lutein protects our skin from burning or suffering damage from the sun. It’s no substitute for sunscreen but it’ll make our skin more resistant to burning (Baswan, Klosner, Weir, Salter-Venzon, Gellenbeck, Leverett, Krutmann, 2021).

Luckily, Lutein can easily be found in a lot of food (Becerra, Contreras, Díaz, and Herrera, 2020). Some of these include yellow carrots which are also rich in beta-carotene and Vitamin A for the eyes.

Foods rich in Lutein

  • Bell Peppers: Red ones especially since they contain beta-carotene, which is the pigment that makes it red!
  • Romaine Lettuce: Usually a base for salads. Dress it up with your choice of fruits and nuts and finish it off with a light vinaigrette!
  • Parsley: More than just a garnish, parsley can be used to flavor dishes.
  • Eggs: Studies show that egg yolks help your body absorb lutein better from the egg itself. That’s three times more efficient than lutein from plants!
  • Corn: Corn is another versatile ingredient that can be used as a side dish for meat, an addition to salads, or even just eaten as is with some butter.
  • Pistachios: Called “the nut of royalty,” pistachios are a good source of protein, antioxidants, and fiber.

8. Vitamin C

Although we’re sure COVID-19 has made us stock up on every purchasable source of Vitamin C, it does more than just fix a mom’s immune system. As an antioxidant, it gets rid of the free radicals or oxygen molecules that make us age. Some will notice that whenever we take Glutathione in every shape or form, there’s always a recommendation to take Vitamin C. It’s because they work well together to heal your body!

Vitamin C also helps brighten up the skin. So in case we come from a beach trip that burned our skin, Vitamin C—whether topically as lotion or consumed as food—can help along the healing process. Besides, Vitamin C also helps moms manage stress better because it allows our immune system to stay strong even when cortisol—the stress hormone—suppresses it!

Foods rich in Vitamin C

  • Lemon
  • Calamansi
  • Orange
  • Potato
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry

Moms, please don’t forget to consult your doctor before adding these vitamins!

Moms always have a hectic schedule and to address that stress, we need a vitamin-filled diet to keep us fueled. However, some of the recommended foods here are common allergens (e.g. eggs, nuts, and even beans!) so it’s best to consult a doctor first. Religious beliefs can also restrict our diets a little but luckily, there are multiple sources.

But the most important part about knowing which vitamins are essential to our system is that we now can tailor our diets better so we can be better moms and women for others.


Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Weir, C., Salter‐Venzon, D., Gellenbeck, K. W., Leverett, J., & Krutmann, J. (2021). Role of ingestible carotenoids in skin protection: A review of clinical evidence. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine37(6), 490-504.

Becerra, M. O., Contreras, L. M., Lo, M. H., Díaz, J. M., & Herrera, G. C. (2020). Lutein as a functional food ingredient: Stability and bioavailability. Journal of Functional Foods66, 103771.

Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The role and the effect of magnesium in mental disorders: a systematic review. Nutrients12(6), 1661.

Copeland, S. (1999). Tofu after 50: Dietary soy and its role in hormone replacement after menopause. Nutrition Noteworthy2(1).

Dyall, S. C., & Michael-Titus, A. T. (2008). Neurological benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Neuromolecular medicine10, 219-235.

Fuad, N. I. N., Sekar, M., Gan, S. H., Lum, P. T., Vaijanathappa, J., & Ravi, S. (2020). Lutein: A comprehensive review on its chemical, biological activities and therapeutic potentials.

Grossmann, R. E., & Tangpricha, V. (2010). Evaluation of vehicle substances on vitamin D bioavailability: A systematic review. Molecular nutrition & food research54(8), 1055-1061.

Ko, S. H., & Kim, H. S. (2020). Menopause-associated lipid metabolic disorders and foods beneficial for postmenopausal women. Nutrients12(1), 202.

Kridawati, A., Rahardjo, T. B. W., Damanik, R., & Hogervorst, E. (2019). Comparing the effect of tempe flour and tofu flour consumption on estrogen serum in ovariectomized rats. Heliyon5(6).

Lips, P. (2006). Vitamin D physiology. Progress in biophysics and molecular biology92(1), 4-8.

Menon, V., Kar, S. K., Suthar, N., & Nebhinani, N. (2020). Vitamin D and depression: a critical appraisal of the evidence and future directions. Indian journal of psychological medicine42(1), 11-21.

More References

Palacios-Pelaez, R., Lukiw, W. J., & Bazan, N. G. (2010). Omega-3 essential fatty acids modulate initiation and progression of neurodegenerative disease. Molecular neurobiology41, 367-374.

Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Estwing Ferrans, C. (2010). Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues in mental health nursing31(6), 385-393.

Pifferi, F., Cunnane, S. C., & Guesnet, P. (2020). Evidence of the role of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in brain glucose metabolism. Nutrients12(5), 1382.

Rizzo, G., Feraco, A., Storz, M. A., & Lombardo, M. (2022). The role of soy and soy isoflavones on women’s fertility and related outcomes: an update. Journal of Nutritional Science11, e17.

Toko, H., Morita, H., Katakura, M., Hashimoto, M., Ko, T., Bujo, S., Adachi, Y., Ueda, K., Murakami, H., Ishizuka, M., Guo, J., Zhao, C., Fujiwara, T., Hara, H., Takeda, N., Takimoto, E., Shido, O., Harada, M. & Komuro, I. (2020). Omega-3 fatty acid prevents the development of heart failure by changing fatty acid composition in the heart. Scientific Reports10(1), 15553.

Zheng, S., Qiu, M., Wu, J. H., Pan, X. F., Liu, X., Sun, L., Zhu, H., Wu, J. & Huang, Y. (2022). Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of heart failure. Therapeutic advances in chronic disease13, 20406223221081616.

More about women’s health or finding ways to cook?

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