Nutrient Needs Depend on Life Stage
In addition to maintaining a proper balance of healthy foods, women need some very specific nutrients during the various stages of their lives. The American Dietetic Association offers the following guidelines:

  • Infancy through childhood

  • During this growth period, girls need to begin eating the basic diet that will sustain them through a healthy life: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein. Now is the time to begin limiting soft drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, baked goods, and fried foods.

  • Teens

  • Calcium levels can be challenged during this stage when bones are still being formed. As menstrual cycles begin, iron deficiencies can arise. Iron-rich food sources include meats, fish, kale, spinach, beans, and fortified breads and cereals. Premenstrual Syndrome affects most women with symptoms from tender breasts to headaches to anxiety. Dietary recommendations to help alleviate the symptoms include cutting down on salt, sugar, and caffeine plus taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

  • Childbearing years

  • Folic acid intake decreases the change of birth defects. Consume at least 400 micrograms daily. You can find folic acid in citrus, leafy greens, and dried beans. Building a healthy body is vital to the ability to conceive.

  • Pregnancy

  • Folic acid, iron and calcium are so important for the growth of the baby that a supplement is usually recommended in addition to a balanced diet. Avoid empty calories from sweets, processed foods, and snacks.

  • Seniors

  • A targeted strategy of exercise and watching calorie consumption is important. Weight gain can be a problem when women, through aging and lack of activity, lose the muscle that burns calories. Calcium intake remains essential to ward off osteoporosis. Smaller meals and snacks throughout the day are suggested to keep energy levels high. Limit calories and be good to the heart by filling up on high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy fats are important while saturated fats should be avoided.