5 nutrients women need

5 nutrients women need

Our nutritional needs change as we move through life. This is especially true for women. Menstruation, pregnancy, breast feeding and menopause put extra demands on our bodies, and each phase requires specific needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

“The best bet is to get your vitamins and minerals from food,” says Dr. Melissa Garcia, a family medicine physician based at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, WI. “But that’s not always possible, so talk to your doctor about vitamins and supplements, especially if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.”

As life changes, the vitamins and minerals every woman should have at the top of their nutritional list include:

  1. Calcium
    • How much: 1,000 mg/day
    • For: Strong bones; heart, muscles, nerve health
    • Sources: Dairy products, salmon, green vegetables, salmon, fortified foods, calcium carbonate antacid tablets
  2. Vitamin D
    • How much: Dr. Garcia recommends 1,200-2,000 IU/day for women especially in northern climates. “I advise my female patients to get more vitamin D than the national recommendation of 400 IU/day, due to our long winters and many women can have a Vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency.”
    • For: Bone and heart health, immunity
    • Sources: Fatty fish, eggs, fortified foods, moderate sun exposure, D3 supplements
  3. Iron
    • How much: 18 mg (more if pregnant)
    • For: Energy, healthy red blood cells, immunity, reproductive health, brain function
    • Sources: Meat, fish, eggs, beans, peas dark green vegetables, whole grains
  4. Magnesium
    • How much: 400 mg
    • For: Bone formation, growth, physical and cognitive development, healthy pregnancy, strong bones, heart health, immunity, blood sugar regulation
    • Sources: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables
  5. Folate
    • How much: 400 mcg (more if pregnant or breast feeding)
    • For: Healthy fetus development, preventing birth defects, fight depression, protein metabolism
    • Sources: Vegetables, spinach, sprouts, broccoli, green beans, brown rice, potatoes, fortified foods, supplements if pregnant or plan to become pregnant

Learn more at the National Institutes of Health.

Trying to eat healthier foods to lose weight? Take this short quiz to find out your ideal weight range.

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About the Author

Mary Arens
Mary Arens

Mary Arens, health enews contributor, is a senior content specialist at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 20+ years of experience in communications plus a degree in microbiology. Outside of work, Mary makes healthy happen with hiking, yoga, gardening and walks with her dog, Chester.