Oct 14, 2011

Five nutrients every woman needs

As women undergo complex changes over the years, their bodies need a variety of nutrients. Nutritionist Fiona Hunter explains what you need and when.
If you eat a balanced diet, it's not difficult to get enough of the many nutrients our bodies need. However, menstruation, the menopause, pregnancy and fluctuating hormone levels affect the need for certain key nutrients.

1. Calcium for strong bones
Osteoporosis, also called brittle bones, affects one in two women over the age of 50 in the UK. The risk of suffering from this debilitating condition increases dramatically if your diet lacks calcium. Studies suggest that a low intake may also be linked with PMS. Until your mid-20s, it's vital not to skimp on calcium while your bones grow, but it remains important for bone health at all ages.
Until your mid-20s, it's vital not to skimp on calcium while your bones grow

How much do you need?

The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) is 700mg, which can usually be gained from three servings of dairy. After the menopause, the body becomes less efficient at absorbing calcium, so you may need to up your intake.

2. Folate - healthy babies, healthy heart
Folate is essential during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Because the spinal cord is formed in the first 12 weeks, folate is critical during the very early stages of pregnancy. It can be weeks before you realise you are pregnant, which is why all women of child-bearing age are advised to take a supplement. New research suggests a good intake of folate may also help to protect against heart disease and stroke, so it's worth making sure your diet contains enough even if you're not planning a baby.

How much do you need?

The RDA is 200 micrograms. Women of childbearing age should take a folate supplement of 400mcg a day in addition to the 200mcg from their diet.

3. Magnesium for a healthy system

Studies show that low intakes of magnesium may be linked with PMS, while other studies have shown that magnesium may help to increase bone density in postmenopausal women. 

How much do you need?
The RDA for magnesium is 270mg a day.

4. Brain-boosting omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fats are vital for the development of a baby's brain, which makes them a key nutrient for pregnant women. Studies also show that women who have a good intake of omega-3 during pregnancy are less likely to have a premature baby. Omega-3 fats also keep adult hearts healthy and reduce the risk of stroke, and may help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Generally, omega-3 offers genuine health benefits whatever your stage of life.

How much do you need? The RDA is 0.45g.

5. Iron for energy
Studies suggest that one in four women in the UK has low iron stores. Iron is essential for the manufacture of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs and transports it around the body. An iron deficiency can make you feel washed out and constantly tired.

How much do you need?

The RDA from 11-50 years is 14.8mg. Most women's need for iron drops after the menopause, but until then it's important to ensure you get enough.


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  3. Thanks for this healthy idea of women nutrition. You may also use the herbal medicines for the women health issues available online or nowadays there are too many drinks that can help you get healthy life. You may also use the Noni fruit extract to get rid of this problem.