Every individual has unique nutritional needs, especially when it comes to weight loss. However, on the whole, nutritional needs for women vary from the recommendations for men in key ways. Primarily, women tend to need fewer calories, more of certain vitamins and minerals, and nutritional needs that evolve with reproductive stages. And, women are more likely to have certain nutrition-related health conditions, such as celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and iron-deficiency anemia.
CoreLife’s registered dietitians are often asked for nutritional tips specific to women, and they offer these surprising facts.
1. Women need more folic acid / folate (vitamin B9).
Folic acid / folate helps in the production of blood cells and DNA for new cells. For women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, folic acid is especially important for prenatal health. Ensure you are getting the recommended 400-800 mcg daily by eating foods like dark leafy greens, oranges, nuts, beans, lean meats, whole grains, or fortified cereals.
2. Some women do not get enough B12
B12 is good for your blood and your brain, helping produce red blood cells and keeping your neurons firing. Women who are vegan or vegetarian may need to supplement B12, since this nutrient is food only in animal products. The ability to absorb B12 declines with age, so women over 50 might need to consider supplementing.
3. Vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.
Along with calcium, vitamin D is one of the building blocks for strong bones. It can also reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Find it in tuna, salmon, and fortified foods like milk or yogurt. Spending 5 to 30 minutes a few times per week in bright, direct sunlight (without sunblock) is another great way to absorb vitamin D!
4. Calcium needs to change throughout life.
A partner to vitamin D is supporting bone health, calcium needs change with age. For young girls (under 18) about 1300 mg daily is needed to support bone growth. Needs decline in adulthood to about 1000 mg daily, but after menopause, you should boost your intake to about 1200 mg daily to prevent bone loss. Find calcium in low-fat dairy products, tofu, cereals, and dark leafy vegetables.
5. Women in their reproductive years need more iron.
Iron supports the production of blood cells, hormones, and connective tissue. Women who have menstrual cycles lose iron monthly, and pregnant women need additional iron to support fetal development. Too little iron can put you at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, which causes weakness and dizziness. Find it in lean meats, seafood, spinach, tofu, and (yes!) dark chocolate.
If you are looking for professional, compassionate, and evidence-based support for your weight loss journey, CoreLife can help. Our team of registered dietitians, medical professionals, mental health clinicians, and exercise specialists work with you on a customized plan to improve weight and overall health. Contact us at 800-905-3261.