How many moments do you catch yourself reflecting on your diet? Whether that's what to eat, how much to eat, or what nutrients to take - it can be a difficult decision. Women’s nutritional needs change as they move through different life stages, and these choices make a big impact on your health and how you feel.
Listen as Carolyn Dean MD ND discusses the specific nutrient requirements to support women's health, including focuses on women-specific issues from hormones and common diet choices. And continue reading to explore 7 daily diet considerations every woman should be thinking about.
If you’re low in magnesium, the muscles cannot contract properly. This can lead to frequent cramps, weakness, and fatigue. Magnesium helps maintain proper nerve signals and supports healthy muscle contractions. It does this by acting as a gatekeeper, regulating the entry of calcium. Without enough magnesium around, too much calcium can accumulate and lead to excessive muscle contractions, cramps, and spasms.
For those pregnant or breastfeeding, magnesium is key. It helps to support the development of the baby's bones and nervous system. Magnesium also helps to prevent preeclampsia, a condition that can be harmful to both the mother and baby.You can find this mineral in foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, yogurt, lentils, almonds, cashews, and whole grains.
Calcium + Vitamin D
Women reach peak bone mass around the age of 25 to 30 years. Caring for bone health is essential for men, but for women, even more so. That’s because the female hormone, estrogen, plays an important role in maintaining bone strength. Around the time of menopause, estrogen levels drop, resulting in increased bone loss. Research suggests that, on average, women lose up to 10% of their bone mass in the first five years after menopause.;
From childhood, we’re taught that only calcium helps build strong bones. But, it’s the combination of 3 key nutrients that support lasting bone health.Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D work together as a team to keep your bones healthy. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, helping to build and maintain bones. Magnesium is just as essential. Around 60% of magnesium is found in your bones. It contributes to bone growth and repair, and regulates key nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D assists the body, both by absorbing calcium into the cells and supporting muscles needed to avoid falls.
Getting enough of these 3 nutrients is important for women of all ages, but especially for postmenopausal women. This is because they are at a higher risk for osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become weak and fragile. By getting enough bone-building nutrients in the diet, women can keep their bones healthy and strong.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for women's health. It helps to boost the immune system and form blood vessels, cartilage, and muscle.Vitamin C is also important for the formation of collagen, a key protein in the skin that keeps us looking young and healthy. While collagen is naturally produced by the body, its production decreases as we grow older.
Women need significantly more vitamin C due to their different nutritional needs, especially pregnant and lactating women. During pregnancy, the demand for vitamin C increases as the baby grows. Vitamin C helps to prevent problems such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and birth defects.
The best way to get enough vitamin C is through a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach.
B vitamins are essential in the diet because they play an important role in energy metabolism. These vitamins help to convert carbohydrates into energy, which is needed to fuel your daily activities. They also help the body to use fat and protein for energy. Women require Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) to make new cells. This is especially important for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. During pregnancy, folic acid helps to form the neural tube that will develop into the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Sources of B Vitamins Include:
- B-1 (Thiamine): fish, beans, peas, and sunflower seeds
- B-2 (Riboflavin): eggs, organ meats, dairy
- B-3 (Niacin): poultry, beef, and fish
- B-6 (Pyridoxine): beef, fish, chickpeas
- B-7 (Biotin): beef, fish, eggs, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts
Good fats are an important part of a balanced diet for women.Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, can’t be stressed enough. There are a few key reasons why women need omegas in their diet. First, omegas support a healthy heart. They do this by helping to keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acids
Adding omegas to the diet can help to improve cognitive function. Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may further protect the brain against age-related decline.Healthy fats also support the joints, eyes and brain, regulate the metabolism, and help with skin and hair growth. You can consider omegas a major MVP for women’s health.
Getting enough omegas in your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. Foods chocked full of healthy fats include salmon, mackerel, eggs, walnuts, tofu, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
There are many good reasons to include probiotics in the diet. Probiotics are live bacteria that keep the digestive system healthy by helping the body absorb nutrients and fight off harmful bacteria. Daily use of probiotics have been shown to reduce the risk of diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems. They can also help combat yeast overgrowth and some vaginal infections.
There are many different types of probiotics, and the specific strains that are most beneficial vary. Some research suggests that Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, andL. plantarum are particularly helpful for women's gut health.You can balance gut health by adding more probiotics to your diet that contain live, active cultures. These can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
What To Consider Next?
There are a lot of diet decisions that women have to make on a daily basis, and it can be tough to know which ones are the best. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to what you should eat. However, by considering the nutrients in this article, you can make better choices to promote health and well-being at every life stage.