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Women’s bodies experience different physiological stages as they age. Nutrient-dense foods are important to managing women’s health throughout their lives.

The link between nutrition and women’s health

Women's life stages are based on the reproductive cycle, beginning with menstruation and ending with menopause. Women's life stages can be marked by specific signs and symptoms, such as menstrual cramps, mood swings, hot flashes and weight gain. The best women’s health care involves managing these symptoms with a nutrient-dense diet. Nutrient-dense foods offer the most number and greatest amounts of essential nutrients in the fewest number of calories. All essential nutrients are needed: vitamins, minerals, and the macronutrients, carbohydrate, protein, and healthy fat.

The most important nutrients include the antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants may lower the risk of some female health problems and slow aging. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are especially important. These vitamins keep the brain working well and help the body make red blood cells. Regardless of age, women need calcium, phosphorus and vitamins D and K to support healthy bones. All these nutrients are important for women’s health issues.

Menopause and Perimenopause

With aging, women need more calcium and vitamin D daily. The remaining essential nutrients are needed at identical amounts throughout life, except iron, which is needed in lesser amounts starting at the perimenopause period and beyond. Consume protein-rich foods that are low in fat, and limit salt intake since it has been linked to high blood pressure. Choose fats wisely. Avoid trans and saturated fats and load up on polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s and omega-6s. Limit intake of sugary foods, since they are mostly full of empty calories and low in needed nutrients.

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