As women move through different stages of life, their nutritional requirements change. The vitamins and minerals that you need during child bearing years will be different than in the post-menopausal period. Whatever stage you are in, the best source for the nutrients you need is the food you eat. Having a well-rounded diet with many fruits and vegetables, that provides your nutritional needs, is better than relying solely on supplements. However, when you don’t get enough of something in your food, then supplements can be valuable. Here’s what women need at every stage of life.
The Child Bearing Years
During this stage of a woman’s life, it is important to get enough iron and folic acid. Iron is needed to carry oxygen through your body, and it helps women avoid problems like weakness, fatigue, and anemia. You can get iron from meats and seafood, and also from dark leafy green vegetables. When you eat these foods, it helps your body absorb the iron if you also have something rich in vitamin C, such as Strawberries or Oranges.
Folic acid is important for preventing birth defects such as spina bifida and neural tube defects. You can add folic acid to your diet with leafy green vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. According to the CDC (Center for Disease and Control), women who choose to include daily doses of folic acid with a month before conception and throughout the 1st trimester lessen their baby’s chances of getting neural tube defects with up to 70%.
During Pregnancy and Lactation
While a woman is pregnant, her energy needs increase, and she needs to take in more calories and more protein. She will also need to get more iron than she normally does. Many doctors recommend that pregnant women take special prenatal vitamins, in case they are not getting all of the nutrients they need from the vegetables and fruits in their diet. During the lactation period, it is important to continue getting all of those critical vitamins and minerals. The other issue during this time is ensuring that you get enough fluids, because breastfeeding results in a loss of fluids from the woman’s body.
The Post-Menopausal Period
As women move into their 50s, 60s and 70s, they need to ensure that they are getting adequate calcium in their diet, to prevent osteoporosis, and maintain strong, healthy bones. Good sources for calcium are milk, yogurt, and fortified cereals. You can also get calcium from dark leafy green vegetables, and from canned fish like salmon that contains soft bones. If you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, a supplement may be advisable.
Potassium is another essential nutrient during this period in life. This mineral can help to lower a woman’s chances of getting high blood pressure, a common issue for people in this age bracket. Milk, vegetables, and fruits are all good sources for potassium. Another way to lower the risk of high blood pressure is to lessen your intake of salt, and watch the sodium content on processed and frozen foods.
Fiber is also important, as it can help to control weight, keep people regular, and lower a person’s chances for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Good sources of fiber include peas and beans, vegetables and fruits, and whole grain breads.
Importance of Antioxidant Vitamins
There are many foods on the market that have great antioxidant properties, and women of all ages should turn their attention towards these specific vitamins. Carotenoids and retinol (vitamin A), vitamin E and C. They have the most important role in the body – to protect against damaging free radicals. Free radicals tear apart and disrupt cell structures, thus leading to the development of various chronic illnesses; by including antioxidant vitamins into your body, these free radicals are destroyed.
Whether you’re 20 years old or you’re in your 70s, the body of a woman can be extremely sensitive. Therefore, to stay strong and healthy, it needs vitamins and minerals. Main sources are foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, nuts, and whole grains. Nonetheless, in special scenarios your physician may recommend supplements to compensate for deficiencies and help your body recover its vigor.