The 9 Vital Nutrients Women Need
If it isn’t obvious that men and women are different, their nutrient needs are also different. Women need to take care to get enough of the nutrients that are most vital to them. Being deficient in some of the essential nutrients may compromise overall health and quality of life.
- Calcium: Calcium obviously is known to help support bone health and teeth. Some good sources of calcium are dark greens like kale, bok choy, broccoli, almonds, dried figs, white beans, canned salmon, sesame seeds and dairy.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone health and helps the body absorb calcium. It also is a powerful nutrient for immune system health. Some sources of Vitamin D are fortified foods, yogurt, fish, eggs, and fortified milk, and of course, the sun.
- Iron: Iron carries oxygen to the cells in the body, supports healthy red blood cells, and may improve energy. Because of menstruation, women are more susceptible to iron deficiencies than men. Women need at least 8 grams of iron each day. Good sources of iron include eggs, fish, fortified cereal, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens.
- Folate/Folic Acid: This is particularly important during childbearing years, as it is key to proper neural development. If you are pregnant, be sure you are getting enough folic acid (400 mg/day). Good sources are dark green vegetables, beans, citrus fruits, lentils, orange juice, and fortified grain products.
- Unsaturated Fatty Acids: Replace saturated fats (from animal products) with unsaturated fats from fish and plants to support cardiovascular health.
- Sodium: Sodium is important in the diet, but after menopause it should be carefully monitored and reduced. Talk to your physician about the proper amount of sodium for your needs.
- Vitamin C: This is important for strong blood vessels and gums. And can help support the immune system. Increase your intake of vitamin C through citrus fruits, dark vegetables, and foods such as papaya, kiwi, green pepper, and more. Even spices like paprika have a lot of vitamin C.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is an essential mineral. It is present in more than 300 enzymatic systems where it is crucial for energy production and other metabolic functions. The heart, brain and kidneys cannot function without adequate levels of this nutrient. Magnesium is used in reaction to form Tri Carboxylic Acid (TCA), which aids in the cells’ energy-producing cycle. It is also involved in smooth muscle contractions, affecting the heart, gastrointestinal, urinary and female reproductive tracts. Most Americans fall short of the daily recommended value, especially women who tend to eat more processed foods on the go. Try foods such as spinach, whole wheat bread, and almonds.
- Protein: Women need protein to help fuel their busy lives and give their body the building blocks it needs. If you’re active, you might need as many grams of protein as your body weight. Good sources include lean means, beans, eggs, peas, seeds and nuts.