Women’s bodies are unique and have specific nutritional needs. A well-balanced diet should include adequate vitamins, iron, fiber and calcium. Each provides the protection and support our bodies need.
Vitamin B -This group of vitamins is especially important to pregnant and breast-feeding women. Most B vitamins are involved in the process of converting blood sugar into energy. (Read more about vitamin B – HERE )
Vitamin E -This vitamin has been known to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, which is on the rise in women. Vitamin E has also been linked to a reduced rate of colon cancer in American women. (Read more about vitamin E – HERE )
Beta-carotene -This vitamin may have a protective benefit against gastrointestinal and cervical cancer.
Folic acid-This vitamin is extremely important for women in their childbearing years to prevent birth defects and possibly lower their risk of cervical cancer.
Vitamin D-The body needs about 200 IU per day of Vitamin D to improve calcium absorption and maintain calcium levels in the blood. Women who don’t eat eggs or dairy products and who live at northern latitudes in the winter months need to be sure to eat foods rich in Vitamin D or take supplements.
IRON-deficiency anemia strikes 20 percent of all premenopausal women in the United States. The primary cause is loss of blood through menstruation. Inadequate amounts of iron-rich food in the diet or poor absorption of iron can make the problem worse. Women need 15 milligrams of iron each day to manufacture hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Foods high in tannins or caffeine, such as tea and coffee, inhibit the absorption of iron. Alcohol also reduces its absorption. Foods that contain ascorbic acid, such as citrus fruits, enhance the body’s absorption.
FIBER Fiber appears to play a role in preventing cancers of the colon and breast and in improving blood sugar control in diabetics. To provide protection from cancer, the National Cancer Institute calls for 25 to 30 grams per day of dietary fiber.
CALCIUM Estrogen slows calcium loss from bones. At menopause, when estrogen levels in women drop, bone loss accelerates. Premenopausal women need about 1000 milligrams of calcium per day and postmenopausal women 500 milligrams per day. The way to get the calcium needed is by eating calcium-rich foods. Supplements can be taken in small doses, but no more than 600 milligrams of calcium supplements should be taken per day. Calcium carbonate supplements are the least expensive and the most readily available. Calcium citrate is easily absorbed and calcium phosphate is the least likely to cause constipation.