Essential Nutrients for Women

May 22, 2019

 

 

Women's Health Week was last week but who says we should only celebrate women's health for 1 week?

 

The most important thing we can do for ourselves is eat healthy and make sure we are getting the essential nutrients on a daily basis.

 

 

Healthy weight loss and maintenance is all about energy balance.  This means eating smarter and moving more. Many people make the mistake of limiting some of the foods they need the most when trying to lose weight. It’s important to eat food high in energizing nutrients which will leave you satisfied and not tired, hungry or light-headed.

 

Here are some tips to get the essential energizing nutrients your body craves and to cut back on unnecessary calories at the same time.

 
Carbohydrates

Your body uses carbs to make glucose, which is your body's main energy source. 

  • Maximize consistent energy levels and long-term health by increasing nutrient-rich carb sources such as fruits, vegetables, beans and peas

  • Include 3 oz. whole grains such as whole oats, whole wheat, whole-grain rye, buckwheat, millet, barley, and spelt. 

  • Carbs are not evil!  Know the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs. 

    • Simple carbs are found in processed foods like crackers, chips and bread

    • Complex carbs are found in vegetables and fruits

  • Cut down on sugar-sweetened beverages, candy and other sweets – this will reduce those quick sugar highs and lows

Protein

Protein is a building block for your muscles, skin, bones, blood and cartilage

  • Include lean protein in every meal

  • Protein sources can include low-fat dairy, eggs, lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, beans, tofu

  • Eat protein in the morning to keep you satisfied and energized until lunch

  • Don’t forget that protein can be a “snack” – a hard boiled egg is a better snack than bag of chips

  • Protein bars and protein shakes can be sources of protein – but it’s important to look at the ingredients and sugar content

Iron

Low iron intakes can lead to serious problems such as iron-deficiency anemia, the most common nutrient deficiency for premenopausal women and children.

  • To prevent anemia and fatigue, women between the ages of 19 and 50 should get 18 milligrams of iron per day

  • Include iron sources in your diet such as lean red meat and iron-fortified cereals

  • Other good sources include poultry, fish, beans and leafy green vegetables

  • When relying on plant foods for iron, consume a source of vitamin C, such a strawberries or tomatoes, with the iron-rich food to help your body absorb the iron

Calcium

Calcium does a lot more than help build strong bones and teeth. Getting enough calcium helps keep your heart and muscles strong and may help prevent high blood pressure and colon cancer too.

  • Good sources of high-calcium foods include seeds, cheese, yogurt, sardines and canned salmon, beans and lentils, almonds and whey protein

  • Calcium is also plentiful in green leafy vegetables including kale, collard greens and broccoli

  • Aim for at least 1,000 milligrams per day (more if you are younger than 18 or older than 50)

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a form of folate (a B vitamin) that everyone needs.

  • Every woman of childbearing age needs 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. (That's what it takes to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects by 75 percent.)

  • Folic acid can also boost your immune function by producing disease-fighting white blood cells.

  • Get your folic acid from nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, green leafy vegetables, oranges, berries, nuts, beans and enriched grain products.

 

The best way to ensure you’re getting all of this on a daily basis is to look at each snack and meal before you eat.

Can you check “yes” for each of the categories listed above -           

       ☐ Carbs

       ☐ Protein

       ☐ Iron

       ☐ Calcium

       ☐ Folic Acid 

 

If so, you’re on a roll. Keep it up! If not, where can you do better?

 

About the Author: Debbie Slutzky earned her Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2010. Debbie is passionate about helping people make healthy lifestyle choices.

 

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Kim Ross, MS, CNS, CDN, IFMCP

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