Nutrients that a woman needs at different decades of her Life
Women have special nutrient needs and during each stage of a woman’s life, these needs change. For example, a woman in her twenties who is thinking of getting pregnant needs different nutrient and amount of nutrient than a woman who is entering menopause. The vitamins and minerals you need to watch for in your thirties and forties are not necessarily the same ones that you need to focus in your fifties and sixties.
(Note : You can click on the nutrients listed below to know its natural source).
In your TWENTIES
Get Relief from PMS :
For most women the symptoms get better as the decades pass.The exact cause of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) isn’t fully understood, but a number of things may contribute to the symptoms including hormonal change, diet etc. The nutrients required are as follows :
Taking extra amount of Magnesium and Vitamin B6 can ease bloating, irritability, anxiety,mood swings and other discomforts. Even taking Calcium helps to a great extent
Include iron-rich food for energy and good health. Iron supports metabolism, transfers oxygen to muscles, aids mental concentration and is used to make hormones and connective tissue. Men need 8 mg of the mineral each day while women need 18 mg to offset iron losses from menstruation.
Take a daily vitamin C supplement to maintain proper iron absorption
Prevent Diabetes :
In the past Diabetes usually affected women after the age 45.Surprisingly, nowadays women even in their teens and twenties are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes which is often triggered by weight gain and unhealthy food habits. Although vitamin supplements are unlikely to prevent diabetes, following nutrients may reduce its severity and potential side effect.
Build strong bones :
In your twenties, your bone bank is at its maximum level. So, making regular calcium deposits in your youth to build up this bank is vital to carry you through your adult life.So have these key Nutrient in your diet :
Calcium with Vitamin D is the most essential nutrient to maintain bone density. Vitamin C also helps in stimulating body’s production of bone and collagen, a connective tissue. Vitamin K helps with bone formation and reduces bone breakage. Magnesium keeps blood calcium at healthful level and potassium keeps acid in the blood from pulling calcium from the bones.
In your 20s, 30s and 40s
If you are trying to get PREGNANT..
Please make sure you take following nutrient in your diet:
Folate has been shown to help reduce the risk of certain neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida when taken by women trying to conceive and whilst pregnant.
Preparing for pregnancy includes building healthy bones. If there is not enough calcium in the pregnancy diet, the fetus may draw calcium from the mother’s bones, which can put women at risk for osteoporosis later in life.
Your body can’t make omega 3 fatty acid; you have to get it through food. Increased omega 3 free fatty acid intake has been associated with improved embryo quality.
It’s important to fill your body’s iron reserves before you get pregnant. Once a woman gets pregnant, she often loses iron to the baby, which can put her at risk for postpartum anemia — a condition that zaps energy by causing red blood cells to fall below normal levels.
In your THIRTIES:
In your thirties, your body’s metabolism begins to slow down and calorie requirements begin to decline. If you keep your same eating pattern in your thirties (and forties) as you did in your twenties, you’ll likely gain weight. Strength training and eating enough protein can help mitigate muscle loss.
Protect yourself against the Common Cold :
Women in their thirties are often juggling career and family responsibilities. The non-stop stress makes the body vulnerable to upper respiratory infections- especially when children are always coming home from school with sneezes and runny noses.
Vitamin C blocks the effects of histamines i.e., chemicals in the body that causes cold symptoms. It also helps if you are suffering from low energy. Its good to take zinc every 2 to 3 hours at the start of cold.
Protect your Heart :
An effective way to protect your hear apart from getting regular exercise, refraining from smoking and avoiding saturating fats in the diet is get enough antioxidant nutrients in the diet. Include these nutrients in your diet :
Vitamin E prevents free radicals from damaging cholesterol and making it more likely to stick to arteries. It even relaxes blood vessels and help preventing blood clots.
Vitamin C “recharges” Vitamin E in the body and increases its effectiveness.
Selenium reduces the amount of cholesterol that is damaged by free radical.
Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 lower blood levels of homo-cysteine. High homo-cysteine levels causes heart diseases.
You cant stop aging but you can make your aging process healthy and happy by including these essential nutrients in your diet :
“Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. Phytonutrients are the chemicals that help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.These compounds contain antioxidants, which slow the aging process, ward off heart disease, and prevent changes in DNA, potentially preventing the development of cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.The antioxidant properties help prevent damage to cells throughout the body.
In the aging process, usually you see an uptick in inflammation, but eating foods rich in omega-3 can help prevent that.
In your Forties
Keep your Thyroid Healthy :
The thyroid gland is an essential organ for producing thyroid hormones, which maintain our body metabolism. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck below the Adam’s apple. Nutrients to watch for :
- Cruciferous Veggies
- Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid
- Protein and Vitamins
Low levels of iodine results in goiter, a swelling of thyroid gland. It also decreases thyroxine, a thyroid hormone that regulates energy production. You can get iodine in salt fortified with iodine or multivitamin supplement.
Cruciferous vegetables are cool weather vegetables and have flowers that have four petals so that they resemble a cross such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables..These vegetables have generated a lot of interest in the health world due to their cancer fighting compounds.
An important principle of health is to have a wide range of antioxidant substances in your diet and supplements to provide broad based, synergistic support of antioxidants for your system.
Omega-3 fatty acids can help “decrease inflammation and help with immunity” for thyroid support. In addition, some studies have indicated that omega-3 fatty acids can increase thyroid hormone uptake. Vitamin D deficiency is also specifically associated with autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD), and has been shown to benefit autoimmune-mediated thyroid dysfunction.
Selenium is another most crucial mineral for thyroid hormone production. In fact, the thyroid gland has the highest concentration of selenium in the body. Like iodine, selenium also becomes a part of thyroid hormones. Selenium is also a component of proteins, known as selenoproteins, that act as antioxidants to help protect the thyroid gland from oxidative stress.
Protein transports thyroid hormone throughout your body.
Vitamin A is important for thyroid hormone receptors and it activates the gene that regulates Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).Be careful when supplementing with vitamin A because it can cause deficiencies in other fat-soluble vitamins such as D, K and E. A deficiency in B-vitamins, more specifically B2, B3, B6, B12 and B9 (folate) can lead to hypothyroidism.
Reduce Joint Pain :
By the time women reach their forties, their joints start to rebel against a lifetime of flexing. The following nutrients help them :
Vitamin E inhibits the effectts of inflammation causing molecules in the joints. Vitamin C and Calciuim also protects the joint.
Fight Cancer with Supplements :
Studies have clearly shown that women who took abundant fruits and vegetables have lower risk of cancer. The credit goes to folate which synthesises DNA.
Calcium is another cancer preventing nutrient. Calcium intake does not support polyps, growth in the colon which pften precede the development of cancer.
Vitamin D has been shown to suppress tumor growth.
Selenium works as an antioxidant, especially when combined with vitamin E. It help fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage cell membranes and DNA, and may contribute to aging and health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
Protect your eyesight against Cataract :
Cataract occur when proteins in the lenses of the eyes are oxidised or damaged by free radicals.Nutrient to watch for is as follows :
Lutein and zeaxanthin filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and help protect and maintain healthy cells in the eyes. Of the 600 carotenoids found in nature, only these two are deposited in high quantities in the retina (macula) of the eye. Antioxidant nutrients neutralize free radicals (unstable molecules) that are associated with oxidative stress and retinal damage. This is why the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin likely play a role in preventing cataracts.
Vitamin C saturates the tissue of the eye and prevent oxidation.
Omega-3s play an important role in eye health. DHA is naturally concentrated in the retina of the eye and is thought to promote healthy retinal function.Omega-3 fatty acids help protect adult eyes from macular degeneration and dry eye syndrome.
Beta-carotene is a carotenoid. Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments found in plants, and are largely responsible for the vibrant colors of some fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene, for example, is responsible for giving carrots their orange color. Once ingested, beta-carotene is either converted into vitamin A (retinol), which the body can use in a variety of ways, or it acts as an antioxidant to help protect cells from the damaging effects of harmful free radicals.
A lack of vitamin A causes the cornea to become very dry, leading to clouding of the front of the eye, corneal ulcers and vision loss. Vitamin A deficiency also causes damage to the retina, which also contributes to blindness.
In your Fifties :
There’s a huge hormonal change that occurs around [the age of 50], particularly a decrease in estrogen and progesterone. These have a profound impact on your nutritional requirements. You will need to pay special attention to eating certain foods for nutrients and exercising regularly.
Protect against Breast Cancer :
A high fat diet increases the risk for breast cancer because it increases levels of tumor promoting lipids in the breast.
- Eat more Fruits and Vegetables and reduce fat.
- Take adequate amount of Calcium and Vitamin D
- Take Folic Acid
If you drink Alcohol, make sure to take a multi supplement containing Folic acid and have food rich in Folate.
Strengthen your Immunity :
The immune system gets less effective over time and body becomes more susceptible to infections as well as cancer.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of ROS formed when fat undergoes oxidation.Vitamin E might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals.
Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the part of the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body.Without sufficient iron, the tissues and organs won’t get enough oxygen, which could lead to anemia. The symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia are fatigue and decreased immunity. If you don’t consume enough iron, you may feel tired and get sick more easily.While women of childbearing age need 18 milligrams of iron daily, women over 50 need only 8 milligrams. It’s easy to get 8 milligrams of iron daily by eating a healthy diet.
Strengthen your Memory:
Nearly everyone experience short term memory in the later half of their life.Dipping levels of estrogen — whether from menopause or having a baby — affect brain function.Inability of recalling simple facts is termed as “brain fog”. The nutrients you need to focus :
Vitamin E neutralizes free radical in your brain, hence making it strong.
Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. In fact, a lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain.
The brain is capable of producing new brain cells at any age, so significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. But just as it is with muscle strength, you have to use it or lose it. Your lifestyle, health habits, and daily activities have a huge impact on the health of your brain. Whatever your age, there are many ways you can improve your cognitive skills, prevent memory loss, and protect your grey matter.
Protect yourself against Kidney Stones :
Why is the incidence of kidney stones increasing in women? Well, the risk for stones include obesity, high salt diet, increased sugar in the diet, and diabetes. All these risks have increased for women over the past 30 years.
- Vitamin B6 helps you protect against stones.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables to get enough fiber
Combating Menopause symptoms :
Menopause is not an illness. It’s a natural part of life.Though its symptoms can be difficult to deal with, eating the right diet and exercising regularly may help alleviate and prevent them. Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, irritability and tiredness.In addition, menopausal women are at a higher risk of several diseases including osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Here are some tips to help you deal with the effects of menopause:
- Get enough Calcium and Vitamin D to fight with osteoporosis since bone tends to get weaker now.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to get enough fiber and maintain a healthy weight and protect against heart diseases. There is a high tendency to accumulate fat in the waist area post menopause.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water to prevent dryness.
- For treating Hot Flashes and Night Sweats avoid trigger food like caffeine, alcohol, sugary and spicy food.Eat food rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans and soy products, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans.
- Reduce refined sugar and processed food to fight irritability, tiredness and depression.
- Eat protein through out the day to help prevent muscle loss and increase the amount of calories burnt.
- Iron requirement drops down to 8 mg per day(from 18 mg). So include iron but in a limited quantity.
In your Sixties and Beyond.. :
The good habits that you develop in your forties and fifties are yielding great results now. But be alert to the possible onset of diseases that can threaten your health.
Enhance your Hearing and protect your mind:
If you are asking your friends to speak up, then you must increase the following nutrients:
With age, your body is not able to absorb these nutrient naturally. Therefore, you should start taking a supplement after consulting to your Doctor.
Low level of copper speed up an aging process called protein glycation, which breaks down tissues in heart, blood vessels and kidneys. Hence your supplement should contain some form of copper which can be absorbed by your body like cupric sulphate.
Improve your mood :
Deficiencies of the below nutrients causes a lot of problem including Depression.
These help you maintaining long term mental health.
Did I miss out something? Please feel free to comment and share your views on women’s health.
Note : Pregnant and lactating women have different nutritional requirement and is not covered in this article.
Click here to find out the natural sources of the above mentioned nutrients.
Click here to find out the best way to consume these nutrients.
Click here to find out how to take care of yourself for good mental health.