The Nutrient 411
Nutrients give our bodies the fuel we need to live energetic, healthy and nutritious lives, but getting the right amount of them isn’t always easy. Our experts weighed in on some of the most common nutrients women are slacking on, along with simple ways to consume them. Keep reading to brush up on your nutrient education.
Which nutrients are you slacking on? Calcium is a critical nutrient many women neglect. According to certified health and nutrition coach Lisa Consiglio Ryan, many women lack enough calcium to protect themselves from osteoporosis. "Calcium protects your bones, warding off osteoporosis and stress fractures." For more ways to keep bones strong, check out this article.
Consiglio Ryan points out that most women feel that they can only get calcium from milk products which may be fattening. Not true! Consiglio Ryan recommends finding calcium through vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Find it in: Kale, spinach, broccoli, sesame seeds and collard greens. Fun fact -- Consiglio Ryan says sesame seeds have 1,160 mg. of calcium, while a cow's milk only has 291 mg!
How much do you need: Women under 25 need 1,200 to 1,500 mg. of calcium per day to support bone health. Women 25 to 50 need 1,200 mg. per day, and women over 50 need 1,500 mg. per day.
Folic Acid (Folate)
"A lack of folic acid can have an impact on your overall health," Consiglio Ryan explained. "In addition to preventing some genetic diseases and guarding against birth defects in babies, folic acid can also prevent diseases such as cancer and heart disease."
According to Consiglio Ryan, it's easy for most women to forget about folic acid since many of the processed grains we eat are stripped of folic acid and other nutrients during the refining process.
Find it in: Whole grains. "Choose breads and cereals by looking for 'whole grain' on the labels. When buying these items, look for '100% whole grain flour' as opposed to 'enriched flour.' Also, eat plenty of green leafy vegetables like spinach and collard greens," Consiglio Ryan said.
How much do you need: Most women should consume about 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, while pregnant women and those anticipating pregnancy should consume about 600 micrograms.
Got iron? According to Consiglio Ryan, most women don't. "Women tend to eat less iron-rich foods, which can lead to iron deficiency," she said. In fact, Consiglio Ryan says 12% of pre-menopausal women have an iron deficiency. Check out this article to read about other nutrient deficiencies.
Find it in: Meat and seafood, or an iron supplement. "Meats like ground beef, liver, steak, pork and chicken are all rich sources of iron," Consiglio Ryan said. "Combine meat with vitamin C sources like citrus fruits and juices. This increases the rate of iron absorption."
If meat's not your thing, Consiglio Ryan suggests getting iron from tofu, wheat germ, broccoli, spinach, beans and lentils.
How much do you need: Consiglio Ryan recommends women age 20 to 50 consume 18 mg. of iron. Women over 50 should shoot for 8 mg.
Water is an overlooked and very essential nutrient. And according to health and fitness consultant and author of BodyInstinct – 6 Week Total Transformation Program, Tari Rose, women aren't getting enough of it. "Women may be taking in lots of 'liquid' in the form of coffee, tea or diet sodas, but they either contain caffeine (a natural diuretic and dehydrator), artificial sweeteners (not great for the body) or carbonation (bad for the bones)," she said.
So what's a girl to do? "You need plain water, and a lot of it. Be sure to consume more water on days you exercise, when it's hot, when you've eaten a lot of salt and when you're menstruating," Rose recommends.
How much do you need: Consiglio Ryan suggests drinking at least half your body weight in ounces per day.
Up next: 4 More nutrients you need >>
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