As a Registered Dietitian, I am frequently asked what supplements I would recommend. My answer is always short and sweet: You can get pretty much all the nutrients you need from REAL FOOD! Nutrients are absorbed the best by getting them from real food in a balanced diet. But sometimes that isn’t always possible, so I do recommend a multivitamin, calcium, and vitamin D to most women to cover any deficiencies there may be in their diet.
Below are the ten nutrients that are essential to women’s health, and some recommended recipes to help you get them into your diet.
Vitamin C is not only important for our immune system, but it also wards off cell damage and produces collagen, which keeps our skin and muscles healthy. Women need at least 75mg of Vitamin C, which is easy to get. The most common sources of Vitamin C are oranges, strawberries, melon, kiwi and bell peppers.
Try: Quinoa and Feta Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers via Hungry Couple
I think this is one of the most important nutrients for women. Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong. As we age our bodies lose calcium, so it’s so important to keep our Calcium intake up as we grow older! Calcium can also help you sleep, maintain weight, and reduce PMS symptoms.
Adult women ages 19-50 need 1,000mg per day, and women age 50 and older need 1,200mg of calcium per day. Many women only get half this amount and usually need to take supplements. You can find calcium in milk, cheese, black beans, dark leafy greens, and fortified orange juice.
Try: Sweet Potato & Crispy Kale Skillet via A Calculated Whisk
Did you know 40-75% of people are deficient in Vitamin D? Our bodies can make Vitamin D with sun exposure, but if you spend most of your time indoors, your body may not be making enough. A supplement is a good idea if you avoid the sun or spend most of your time inside.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones and teeth, breast health, and our mood. Studies have actually shown that a Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributor towards depression and anxiety. Adult women need 400 IU’s per day. Vitamin D can be found in fish and milk.
Try: Panko Crusted Tilapia with a Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce via Joyful Healthy Eats
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It fights free radicals and prevents damage from UV rays, air pollution and smoke. It’s also great for your immune system and healthy skin. Women need 15mg of Vitamin E per day. Great sources include nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. Try adding almonds or pumpkin seeds to your salads, or sauteing your veggies in extra virgin olive oil.
Try: Sunflower Seed Herb Pesto via Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
This is one nutrient that is easily overlooked, but it’s so important! Women of child-bearing age should be making sure they’re getting enough of this vitamin. A deficiency of folic acid can cause neural tube defects that can lead to cerebral palsy. Make sure you’re taking a daily multivitamin. Folic acid is also found in green veggies and avocado.
Try: Avocado Alfredo Pasta via 40 Aprons
Iron is so important for growth. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, insomnia, and poor concentration. Its important women get enough iron to replace what is lost on a monthly basis during menstruation. Women need 18mg per day, and pregnant women need 27mg. You can find iron in red meat, seafood, nuts, spinach, broccoli, and kidney beans.
Try: BLT Spinach Salad with Avocado Chive Dressing via Teaspoon of Spice
Magnesium is important for nerves, muscles, and strong bones—especially in preventing osteoporosis. Magnesium also protects against heart disease and regulates blood pressure. We can get magnesium from nuts and seeds, spinach, black beans, and halibut.
Try: White Fish With Fruit Salsa via Julia’s Album
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Also known as the good fats, omega-3 fatty acids are important for regulating blood pressure, lowering inflammation, and lowering your risk for heart disease and cancer. We need 1.1g of these fats per day. Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids includes salmon, tuna, sardines, flax and chia seeds.
Try: Strawberry & Peach Chia Jam via Sweet Cannela
Potassium is so important for fluid balance, nerves, and muscle contraction. It also promotes healthy bones. Women need about 4,700mg of potassium per day. This nutrient can be found in all meats, chicken, yogurt, sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach.
Try: Sweet Potato & Egg Breakfast Skillet via Tastefully Gluten Free
Fiber is not only essential to a healthy GI tract, but it can also lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women need about 20-30g of fiber daily. Foods high in fiber include oatmeal, lentils, nuts and seeds, brown rice, tomatoes, apples and blueberries.
Try: Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes via Lemons and Basil
There you have it! Ten nutrients every woman needs, with tasty recipes chock full of them!
What nutrient do you focus on in your diet?
All Images reprinted with permission from the mentioned bloggers and www.healthyaperture.com.
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!