Nutrition for Women
A Guide to Lifelong Health
By Chelsea Cooper
Nutrition In Your 20s:
Nutrition In Your30s:
Nutrition In Your 40s:
Nutrition In Your 50s: and Beyond
A variety of factors affect a woman's nutritional needs, including menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause and menopause. Due to these factors, extra attention should be given to a healthy diet and a few key nutrients, the most important of which are calcium, folic acid, fiber, iron and fluids.
The link between calcium and osteoporosis is well-established, yet many women still are not getting enough calcium to protect themselves. The most important time to get sufficient amounts of calcium is while bone growth and consolidation are occurring - a period that continues until approximately 30 to 35 years of age. The idea is to build up calcium deposits early on, as this may delay fractures that occur later on in life.
Folic acid is vital for women of childbearing age and women trying to conceive. According to the National Academy of Sciences, women of childbearing age should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Folic acid guards against birth defects in babies and may prevent some cancers, genetic diseases and heart disease.
Drink at least 2.5 liters of fluid per day. Fluids are often overlooked in the nutrient category. Although we need them to live, we usually don't think of them as necessary nutrients. Athletes and very active women need more fluids than those who aren't as active. Dehydration contributes to fatigue more than any other nutrient deficiency.
Fiber helps the digestive tract move and prevents diseases such as colon cancer. The lack of fiber is more common than most women suspect. Some symptoms include feeling sluggish for an extended period of time, feeling bloated, and waking up feeling tired and "blue."
Women may lose up to 15-20 mg of iron each month after menstruation. Iron-deficiency anemia is very common in young women. Iron is needed to make new cells, proteins and hormones. Iron also helps protect the body against infection.
Many of today's health problems, including birth defects, premature births, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, strokes and heart disease, can be reduced or prevented by a healthy diet and lifestyle. I would be remiss if I did not at least mention regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can help improve self-esteem, mental health and physical health. Twenty to 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, can help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
Chelsea Cooper, MPA, CPT, is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer, performance enhancement specialist, and rehab and exercise specialist. To learn more, visit www.trainwithchelsea.com.