20 Nutrients all Women Need
If you are a woman who usually works round-the-clock, juggling family and work and tends to amiss those crucial and healthy meals of a day, you may then definitely need a check. More than men, it is women that need more physical energy and mental support and their bodies certainly require a variety of essential nutrients to combat various challenges in their lives.
While a balanced diet is a sure way to lead a healthy life, you may still be missing out on some of the most important nutrients because most of us eat only to fill our tummies. To help you keep a tab there, we have listed the top 20 nutrients that every woman needs in her life. Make it a point to include foods that are rich in these nutrients, at least twice a week if not every day.
Nutrition for Women via Natural Foods
1. Fiber: While there are soluble and insoluble types of fiber, this nutrient can contribute greatly in maintaining your overall health. It helps in regular bowel movements and helps minimize the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer.
Sources: Whole grains, bread, pasta, apples, all berries and cabbage and cauliflower.
2. Protein: Proteins have the immense power of preventing muscle loss and stabilise energy levels in the body. Unlike men, proteins in a woman’s body don’t add bulk but only keep the body strong and fit.
Sources: All dairy products, fish, lean chicken, soy and tofu, egg whites and all legumes.
3. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids: Two precious fats the body cannot make from raw materials are the omega 3 and omega 6 fats. Hormone production, regulating blood clotting, preventing internal inflammation and reducing the risk of cancers are carried out effectively by this group of fatty acids.
Sources: Walnuts, sardines, beef, tofu and soya beans and shrimps.
4. Calcium: One nutrient that women of all ages require is calcium. This power mineral not only maintains healthy teeth and bones but also helps in the prevention of diseases associated with the muscular system mainly osteoporosis and arthritis. Recent studies also indicated that calcium can reduce the risk of breast cancers.
Sources: All dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk, broccoli, kale and figs.
5. Biotin: An important part of co-enzymes, biotin plays a key role in breaking down fat, carbohydrates and other food groups we consume on a daily basis. Biotin deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in babies and depression in women.
Sources: Peanuts, Swiss chard, yeast and all whole grains.
6. Folate: Integrated with certain important anti-cancer properties, folate is undoubtedly one of the most vital nutrients that women need. Also known as folic acid, it plays a significant role during pre-menopause and post-menopause by creating new cells and can effectively combat heart attacks, stroke, dementia, cognitive deterioration and depression.
Sources: Dried beans, spinach, citrus fruits, all dark green vegetables like broccoli and collard and lentils.
7. Iron: The carrier of oxygen, iron is vital to maintain energy levels, overcome fatigue and pump blood equally to all the organs in the body. Iron deficiency (anaemia) is common among women of all ages and must be treated with iron supplements. A lesser haemoglobin count indicates lower iron levels and women with low blood count experience shortness of breath, fatigue and sudden weight loss.
Sources: Jaggery, dark chocolate, dark green leafy vegetables, all kinds of nuts, meat and tofu.
8. Magnesium: More than 300 kinds of chemical reactions are dependent on magnesium. Improving bone strength and ensuring that the nerves, muscles and heart function at the optimal levels are other things magnesium looks after. Women with fluctuating blood sugar levels can benefit from this valuable mineral.
Sources: Flaxseeds, wild salmon, halibut fish, tuna, avocado and bananas.
9. Potassium: Since women tend to undergo complex body changes, potassium contributes significantly in helping sustain the normal contractions of muscles (during menstruation and childbirth). Found in all body cells, potassium enhances the overall strength of bones and majorly trims down the risk of high blood pressure.
Sources: Sweet potato, yogurt, white beans, winter squash and 100% orange juice.
10. Vitamin A: Women with loose skin and wrinkles must make vitamin A, a part of their daily diet. Healthy eyes and optimal vision are maintained only by this vitamin. Apart from such contribution, boosting immunity and production of new cells is also the job of vitamin A.
Sources: Carrots, sweet potato, cod liver oil, broccoli, spinach and eggs.
11. Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant, this vital nutrient helps your body generate collagen for healthy skin and stronger bones. It also prevents capillary bleeding and aids wound healing. Vitamin C actively promotes new cell production thereby increasing immunity.
Sources: Raspberries, cantaloupe, papaya, all yellow tinted citrus fruits.
12. Vitamin E:
Extremely healthy and powerful as an antioxidant, Vitamin E takes care of all your physical needs to stay in a good condition. It enables your body to fight against free radicals and that is one reason why women are advised to consume vitamin E supplements to prevent breast tumours and internal inflammation.
Sources: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, green leafy vegetables, soya bean oil and other vegetable oils.
13. Zinc: Women with fertility problems are usually prescribed zinc supplements to improve the ovary’s ovulation and egg maturing ability. When the body receives enough zinc, oestrogen and progesterone are used optimally, thereby increasing the chances of pregnancy.
Sources: Low fat yogurt, cheese, milk, cashews, pumpkins and squash seeds, pork and chicken, mushrooms and cocoa.
14. Choline: Not a vitamin or a mineral but choline is an essential nutrient for a healthy liver and brain. Pregnant women especially need to consume choline to prevent neural tube defects in their babies. This nutrient was also found to reduce asthma attacks, lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.
Sources: Eggs, shellfish, beets, meat, wheat, rice and pasta.
15. Water: From supporting weight loss to preventing strokes of the brain and heart, water does it all. A minimum of eight litres a day is required for body maintenance. Pregnant women and elderly women experience hot flashes due to hormonal imbalances. These flashes can be effectively controlled by water. Starting the day with a glass of warm water is said to prevent stomach ulcers.
Nutrition for Women via Health Supplements
16. Probiotics: Found in plenty in yogurt or also in powdered form, probiotic bacteria are vital for the gut. They keep bowel disorders at bay and also help in weight loss by improving body metabolism. Studies revealed that good bacteria obtained from probiotics travel into the urinary tract and vagina and keep them healthy.
17. Melatonin: This hormone is the one that controls our sleep cycles. Women suffer from periodic insomnia if their bodies don’t produce enough melatonin. Also found in the form of pills, this hormone must be consumed in low doses by those women with sleep disorders and cluster headaches.
18. B-complex vitamins: Found in the form of pills and powders, this bunch of good B complex vitamins are important for a beautiful skin and healthy glowing hair. They were also found to slow down aging of the skin and prevent wrinkles. During pregnancy and lactation, a woman’s body needs more support and consumption of these supplements helps to a great extent.
19. Flaxseed: Tiny seeds but big benefits, flaxseeds are what all women will definitely need. The seeds also found in pill form, lower blood cholesterol and reduce bone loss among elderly women. They also improve digestive health and aid in weight loss by keeping the stomach feel full for long hours.
20. Resveratrol: Found in abundance in red wine, resveratrol is extremely heart healthy. Women suffering from internal inflammation, blood clots and higher levels of cholesterol can consume red wine in moderation to boost overall health. Apart from red wine, you will find resveratrol pills that are equally effective.