Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nutrition For Women At Every Age

At every stage of women’s lives, nutrition and regular exercise are the cornerstones of good health and optimal energy. But certain vitamins and minerals become especially important at particular times of life. Knowing which matter most can help you choose the best foods and supplements.

This article, which you can read in full here at Women’s Web MD covers key nutrients women need during their teens, childbearing years, and senior years. Below we have included the key excepts:

Nutrition for Girls in Childhood and Early Teens

The best guarantee that growing girls get the nutrition they need is a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean sources of protein. Two nutrients are particularly important:

Calcium: “Getting enough calcium is important for all ages, but it’s particularly important during adolescence and early , when bones are absorbing calcium,” says Heather Schwartz, MS, RD, a medical nutrition therapist at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics. Calcium and vitamin D are often paired in fortified foods such as milk. The reason: The body needs D in order to absorb calcium. Most experts recommend 1,300 mg of calcium a day for girls aged 9 through 19.

Iron: Essential for healthy blood cells, iron becomes especially important when girls begin to menstruate. With each period, a woman loses small amounts of iron. “About 10% of American women are iron deficient,” says Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of Maine. Symptoms of low iron include fatigue, impaired immunity, and poor performance at school or work.

Nutrition for Women During Childbearing Years

Several nutrients are particularly important for women during , especially if they are capable of becoming pregnant.

Folic acid: This form of B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects, especially spina bifida and anencephaly. Most women get enough as part of their diet through foods such as leafy greens, a rich source of folic acid. However, some doctors recommend that women take a pregnancy supplement that includes folic acid, just to make sure they are getting the recommended 400 to 800 micrograms.

B12: Like folic acid, B12 is essential for healthy nervous system development and function. Pregnant women who are vegans or vegetarians may fall short on B12, since it is present in animal protein and to a lesser extent in dairy.

Choline: Some studies link low choline levels to increased risk of neural tube defects. Eggs are an excellent.

Omega 3s: These essential fatty acids, EPA and DHA, play many roles in the body, including building healthy brain and nerve cells. These healthy oils have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of women.

Vitamin D: Over the past decade, dozens of studies have revealed many important roles for vitamin D, the nutrient that skin cells produce when they are exposed to sunlight.

Calcium: Getting enough calcium continues to be important for women through their years.

Iron: Iron, too, remains a critical nutrient. Young women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18 mg a day.

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