Nutrients You Probably Aren’t Getting Enough Of

November 6, 2017  |  
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Young African-American woman in turban sitting on couch eating salad.

You probably aren’t getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need. It’s not your fault. The way most food is made today strips food of many of its nutrients. Furthermore, we all have our vices between drinking, spending time in the sun, smoking, and staying up all night that strip our bodies of essential nutrients even more. Okay, so maybe it’s a little bit your fault, but you gotta live, right? The problem is that, as a woman, there are certain nutrients you just can’t skimp on—nutrients that balance your hormones, alleviate PMS and menopause symptoms, help with fertility, give you a gorgeous glow, and so much more. So let’s make sure you know what those are, so you don’t face health problems later in life. Here are nutrients most women don’t get enough of.

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Fiber

A fiber deficiency not only means constipation (something women report suffering from more than men), but it could also mean higher cholesterol, higher weight, and lower energy. Fiber cleans out your digestive tract, which regulates your digestive system and can help in weight management.

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Where to find it

You should get at least 30 grams of fiber per day. Berries, apples, nuts and popcorn are excellent sources of fiber and make delicious quick snacks. Brown rice, whole grains, and most vegetables are also good sources of the stuff.

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Magnesium

Magnesium is important for nerve and muscle health. It can relieve cramps, aid in digestion, and ease muscle pain. Considering that women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia as men and have a monthly visitor that causes cramps, we can’t do without the stuff.

 

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Where to find it

Most women need between 310 and 320 mg of magnesium per day. Pregnant women, however, need to up their intake to 350 to 360 mg daily. Spinach and chard are high in the stuff. For a quick magnesium-filled snack, grab some pumpkin seeds, yogurt, or almonds. Bananas, avocados, and black beans are also good sources of magnesium.

 

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Vitamin D

You need plenty of vitamin D to absorb calcium, which we’ll get to later. Once in your body, Vitamin D converts into something called calciferol, which is what helps you make the most of the calcium you consume. Getting enough vitamin D can reduce your risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

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Where to find it

Adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should get at least 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day, and those between the ages of 51 and 70 should get 400 IU a day. Find it in mushrooms, egg yolk, tuna fish, pork, tofu, almond milk, and yogurt.

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Folic acid

If you plan on becoming pregnant, you can’t afford to be low on folic acid. Being low on the stuff can lead to birth defects that affect your baby’s brain, spinal cord, or spine. Some of these can include spina bifida and anencephaly.

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Where to find it

Women should get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid a day. Find it in fortified cereals, bread, and pasta. You can find the food source of it—called folate—in dark greens like spinach and kale. Be aware that some birth control pills can actually reduce your body’s ability to absorb folic acid.

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Iron

If you don’t get enough iron, you’ll feel exhausted. That’s because iron helps your blood cells deliver oxygen to your cells. Women, unfortunately, report feeling fatigue far more than men do, so we definitely need plenty of iron.

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Where to find it

Premenopausal women need 18 mg of the stuff every day, while postmenopausal women can get away with just 8 mg a day. Find it in seafood such as mussels, clams, and oysters. You can also get a lot of it in chicken liver, beef, sardines, halibut, salmon, ham, and veal.

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Calcium

Calcium provides the building blocks for our skeleton—without it, we wouldn’t have bones! Osteoporosis can happen to anyone, but it’s especially common amongst women. Having enough calcium can also reduce one’s chances of breast cancer, too.

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Where to find it

Premenopausal women should get at least 1,000mg of calcium a day and post-menopausal women should get at least 1,200mg a day. If you don’t eat dairy, that’s okay. You can find calcium in poppy and chia seeds, sardines, canned salmon, beans, many leafy greens, and almonds. Of course, if you do eat dairy, you’ll find plenty of calcium in yogurt, low-fat cheese, and milk.

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Omega-3 Fatty acids

Getting enough omega-3’s in your diet can reduce your risk of stroke by 60 percent—a number women need to be aware of since roughly 55,000 more women than men have strokes each year. This special fat can also work as an anti-inflammatory in the body.

 

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Where to find it

Get 1.1 grams of the stuff a day. Find it in several types of fish like herring, salmon, sardines, halibut, and anchovies. If you’re not a fish lover, you can also get this nutrient from walnuts, chia seeds, and eggs.

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that you need to fight free radicals in the body. It’s important for your immune system, skin, and eye health. Women have higher rates of blindness and vision issues than men, so we really need this vitamin.

 

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Where to find it

Get 1,000 mg of vitamin E a day. Plenty of nuts have the stuff, including peanuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. Olives, quinoa, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, and dried apricots are also good sources of vitamin E.

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