Our mission at Capital Women’s Care focuses on the overall well-being of our patients, which includes a healthy lifestyle and diet. While proper nutrition is always recommended, women’s dietary needs change throughout the various stages of life. A balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, whole grains, healthy fats, and lots of fluids. Specific nutrients help play an important role in women’s development:
- Calcium, coupled with Vitamin D (for calcium absorption), to build strong bones and teeth. Calcium intake should be increased during pregnancy and as a woman ages to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Foods rich in calcium include milk, cheese, and yogurt. Vitamin D can be produced naturally by soaking up the sunlight each day!
- Iron helps create healthy blood cells, so menstruating girls and women should strive to include iron in their daily intake. The need for iron increases significantly while pregnant. Good sources of iron are shellfish, meat, beans, and enriched cereals.
- Vitamin B12 is crucial for development of function of the nervous system and for healthy red blood cells. It also helps with energy production; maintaining a healthy digestive system; and protecting against heart disease (the number one killer of women), stroke, and high blood pressure. Vitamin B12 can be found naturally in meat, eggs, and milk.
- Omega-3 fatty acids provide a number of benefits, including healthy brain and nerve cells, reducing depression, and lowering triglyceride levels to reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega 3’s can be found in plant sources, like nuts and seeds, as well as fish with high DHA and EPA levels, including herring, salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
- Folate (folic acid) is especially important for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to prevent neural tube defects in their baby. Green veggies, including broccoli, kale, collard greens, and asparagus, are good sources of folate.
All of the above mentioned nutrients can also be found in supplement form. If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or have any questions or concerns about your dietary needs, contact your Capital Women’s Care provider. He or she can provide advice and link you to the appropriate resources, if necessary.