Essential Nutrients for Women

Beauty/Skincare, Nutrition
on June 27, 2011

Women have a unique physical composition that requires specific nutrients to remain healthy. From childhood through menopause, women’s bodies constantly change and need different types of nutrients to keep themselves healthy during each stage of their lives. Some nutrients — including calcium, folic acid and vitamin D — are particularly beneficial for women.

Water. The basis of any healthy body is water, one of the easiest and most abundant nutrients to get. Water acts as a transportation system for other nutrients through the blood vessels. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, women should consume at least 3.7 liters, about 16 cups, of water per day. Women can meet this recommended level by drinking water or eating water-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.

Iron. The Office of Dietary Supplements, a division of the National Institute of Health, recommends that women between the ages of 19 and 50 get 18 milligrams of iron a day, a little over twice as much iron as men of the same age. Iron helps the muscles store and use oxygen, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not taking enough iron can cause fatigue, making daily tasks difficult. Because of blood loss during menstruation, women can be at higher risk of iron deficiency.

Calcium. Because women naturally lose bone density more rapidly after menopause, it is imperative that they get enough calcium to build and maintain strong bones. The Office of Dietary Supplements states that women between the ages of 19 and 50 should take 1,000 milligrams of calcium. After menopause, or from age 51 through 70, calcium intake should increase to 1,200 milligrams to help prevent symptoms of osteoporosis.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important during a woman’s entire life, from childhood through menopause. This nutrient helps metabolize calcium, making it easier for your body to strengthen your bones. Getting the recommended dose of vitamin D, like calcium, might help women prevent or at least mitigate bone density loss, according to the CDC.

Folic acid. Also known as folate, folic acid is another essential nutrient for women, especially during childbearing years. If planning a pregnancy, women should increase their amount of folic acid to between 400 and 800 micrograms a day, according to the Office on Women’s Health. Folic acid helps with brain and nervous system development in unborn children, and experts say it may help prevent cancer and keep your heart healthy.