Nutrition

Healthy Eating and Diet Tips for Women

June 15, 2021

Women have unique nutritional needs. Trying to balance the demands of family and work or school - and also coping with media pressure to look and eat a certain way - can make it difficult for any woman to maintain a healthy diet. But the right food can not only improve your mood, boost your energy, and help you maintain a healthy weight, it can also support you through the different stages in a woman's life. 

While what works best for one woman may not always be the best for another, the important thing is to build your diet around your vital nutritional needs. Whether you're looking to improve your energy and mood, combat stress or PMS, boost fertility, enjoy a healthy pregnancy, or easy symptoms of menopause, these nutrition tips can help you to stay healthy, active, and vibrant throughout your ever-changing life. 


Why supplements aren't enough?

Often women have tried to make up deficits in their diet though the use of vitamins and supplements. However, while supplements can be a useful safeguard against occasional nutrient shortfalls, they can't compensate for an unbalanced or unhealthy diet. 

To ensure you get all the nutrients you need from food you eat, try to aim for a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, quality protein, healthy fats, and low in processed, fried, and sugary foods. 


The importance of calcium

Among other things you need calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them as strong as you age, regulate heart rhythm, and ensure your nervous system functions properly. Calcium deficiency can lead to mood problems such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, your body will take calcium from your bones to ensure normal cell function, which can lead to weakened bones or osteoporosis. 


How much calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D do you need?

Calcium: For adult women aged 19-50 the recommended allowance is 1 000 mg/day. For women over 50, the recommended allowance is 1 200 mg/day. 

Magnesium: the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 320 to 400 mg/day.

Vitamin D: You can get vitamin D from about half an hour of direct sunlight, and from foods such as salmon, shrimp, cod, and eggs. 

Why you may not be getting enough iron.

Iron helps to create the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. It’s also important for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. Due to the amount of blood lost during menstruation, women of childbearing age need more than twice the amount of iron that men do—even more during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, many of us aren’t getting nearly enough iron in our diets, making iron deficiency anemia the most common deficiency in women.


How much Iron do you need?

For adolescent women aged 14-18 the recommended daily amount is 15 mg (17 mg if pregnant). 

For adult women aged 19-50, the recommended daily amount is 18 mg/day. For women 51+ years old, the recommended daily amount is 8 mg. 


Here are some good sources of iron:
  • Chocolate, dark, 45%-69% cacao solids, 3 ounces = 18 mg per serving
  • Chickpeas, boiled and drained, ½ cup= 2 mg per serving
  • White beans, canned 1 cup= 8 mg per serving
  • Spinach, boiled and drained, ½ cup = 3 mg per serving

As we all know a well-balanced diet is composed of a variety of foods, adequately meeting women's needs for vitamins, minerals and energy. In order to maintain good health, women need to pay special attention to calcium and iron intake. Use and implement these tips into your diet to ensure you're meeting the requirements your body needs!

(all of the numerical serving portions have been found on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

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