Maintaining overall wellness can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Staying active, eating right, making sure we’re taking in all the proper nutrients—it’s a lot to juggle. It can be helpful to know exactly which vitamins and minerals are most important for women to get in their diets to support their health needs.
But even once you know which vitamins and minerals you need, how do you know how to get them? You could take supplements, but those can be expensive and hard on digestion. Eating the proper foods is an excellent way to make sure you consume your nutrients in a cost-effective, easily absorbed-form. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor to ensure that you’re getting the proper nutrients for your situation, especially if you’re pregnant or have a chronic health condition.
Calcium is one of the most essential minerals for women, especially in the post-menopausal phase of their lives. It helps keep bones and teeth strong, thereby protecting against breaks and fractures that become more likely as we age. It’s also good for our brains and muscles. As children, lots of us drank milk regularly, providing us with the calcium we needed to grow. However, adults typically don’t drink milk daily. Instead, you can find calcium in other dairy products like yogurt or cheese or in salmon, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Studies show that roughly 17% of premenopausal women in the U.S. are iron-deficient, which places iron high on the list of nutrients that women need to make sure they’re getting. A lack of iron can cause tiredness, weakness, and dizziness because blood has a more difficult time carrying oxygen. To up your iron intake, focus on lean meats and greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli.
Like calcium, vitamin D is critical for the strength of bones and the prevention of osteoporosis. It also helps boost your immune system and reduces inflammation. Fortunately, you can get vitamin D just by stepping out into the sunshine (with sunscreen, of course), but you can also find it in certain fish, like tuna and salmon, as well as certain brands of orange juice and cereal.
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Along with iron, vitamin B-12 is imperative for the proper creation of red blood cells, which serve various crucial purposes in our bodies. Vitamin B-12 also helps neurons work correctly and is necessary for the healthy development of fetuses, so pregnant women in particular need to make sure they’re getting enough. This important vitamin can be found in milk, eggs, poultry, and seafood like flounders and clams.
Folic acid is another vital nutrient for women, particularly pregnant women. Folic acid is also called folate or vitamin B9. Folic acid helps the body make blood cells and DNA and can help prevent congenital disabilities and premature births. Spinach, oranges, nuts, chicken, and lean beef are all excellent sources of folic acid.
Probably the best-known nutrient, vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid and helps the body fight off disease. Getting enough vitamin C is especially vital during cold and flu season, as it can help you get better faster if you do contract a virus. It may also prevent you from experiencing symptoms in the first place! Vitamin C can be found in many fruits, like kiwi, oranges, and grapefruit, and vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, and peppers.
Getting the proper nutrition is an ongoing chore that we all must maintain. Still, with a helpful shortlist of what’s essential to your health, you can set priorities and keep them in mind when deciding on your meals, and adjust your intake depending on your age, situation, and your doctor’s guidance.