WEB DESK: Whether your dining style is “grab ‘n’ go” or “sit and chill,” it pays to pay attention to what you eat. Women’s nutritional needs change throughout life, and it’s not always easy to get all the nutrients you need. Here are eight vitamins and minerals that you should take out time for.
Getting enough calcium, especially during your teens and 20s, helps prevent fragile bones in later life. Calcium is also essential for healthy muscles, nerves, and blood flow. Good sources: milk; yogurt; cheese; kale; broccoli; canned salmon with bones; and calcium-fortified cereals, soy beverages, and fruit juices (check the label).
2. Vitamin D
This vitamin helps your brain cells communicate, boosts immunity, and partners with calcium to promote healthy bones. Older women may need a dietary supplement, since their skin makes little vitamin D from sunshine. Good sources: salmon; tuna; eggs; milk; mushrooms; and vitamin D-fortified cereal, yogurt, and orange juice (check the label).
This B vitamin is essential for making DNA and healthy red blood cells. Many teens and young women don’t get enough. All females of child-bearing age need added folate. Folate prevents certain types of birth defects—when a woman has adequate folate in her system before she becomes pregnant. Good sources: spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, beans, orange juice, rice, and fortified cereals.
Without adequate iron, your body cannot make new red blood cells, which deliver vital oxygen to all of your tissues. The result can be fatigue and anemia. Teenage girls, women of childbearing age, and vegetarians often come up short on this mineral. Good sources: liver, beef, turkey, chicken, tuna, beans, tofu, spinach, raisins, and fortified cereals.
5. Vitamin C
This multitasking antioxidant is a woman’s best friend, possibly combating free radical damage, infections, and chronic disease. Plus, it supports healthy collagen and helps prevent wrinkles and dry skin as you woman age. Good sources: red and green peppers, kiwifruit, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, and tomatoes.
6. Vitamin B12
This vitamin is important for healthy nerves and blood cells, although taking extra B12 won’t increase your energy, as some supplements claim. Vegan women (who consume no animal foods) and older women may not get enough B12. Good sources: beef, pork, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, and nutritional yeast.
Your body uses iodine to make thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism throughout your body. Most women get plenty of iodine, but pregnant women, who need extra iodine for their developing baby, should take special care to get enough. Good sources: fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, grains, seaweed, and iodized salt.
One in every three American women has heart disease, and nearly one in 10 has diabetes. By promoting healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, magnesium may help prevent both diseases. Good sources: spinach and other leafy greens, whole grains, beans, and nuts.