Metal Matters: Minerals Every Woman Needs

woman holding a bag full of healthy food.Are your nails brittle? You might have an iron or calcium deficiency. And if your muscles ache and are cramping a lot, a lack of potassium could be the culprit.

The human body needs many different minerals for it to function properly. And women need more of certain minerals than men. Although many women take supplements to boost their mineral intake, you can get more essential minerals through diet.

Here are some of the most-needed minerals for women’s bodies, and ways to get them on the menu:

Calcium

Long credited with building strong bones for everyone, calcium also helps middle-aged and elderly women avoid brittle, thinning bones or osteoporosis. In addition, the British Journal of Nutrition reports that calcium helps enhance weight loss. Other research shows it aids in blood clotting and regulating blood pressure.

Women between 18 and 50 should be getting 1,000 mg a day, and those over 50 should up that to 1,200 mg daily. (To get a better sense of how much that is, consider that 8 ounces of yogurt has around 415 mg of calcium, while an 8-ounce glass of milk contains around 300 mg.)

Hit those numbers by adding to your diet:

  • low-fat plain yogurt
  • calcium-fortified orange juice
  • milk
  • dried figs or almonds

Iron

The go-to mineral for producing red blood cells, iron is a vital mineral for preventing fatigue. The recommended amount is 15 mg daily for women between 18 and 50 or 10 mg for those 51 and older, which can be obtained by eating a half-cup of fortified breakfast cereal.

Get even more iron into your system by eating

  • lean steak
  • chicken
  • pork
  • fish

But iron doesn’t just come from cereal and meat the following also provide this important nutrient:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • kidney beans
  • cooked spinach
  • prune juice

Potassium

A mineral that’s credited with helping to control blood pressure, potassium also keeps muscles functioning properly. Women should get 3,000 mg of potassium daily, which can be done by eating foods like:

  • yogurt
  • bananas
  • milk
  • orange juice
  • raw spinach
  • fish
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • tomatoes
  • mangoes
  • grapefruit
  • bell peppers

A banana contains around 400 mg of potassium, but for a real boost, have a cup of lima beans to get 1,000 mg of this important mineral into your system. Or enjoy a baked potato and take in 900 mg.

As a bonus, mineral-rich foods such as beans and leafy greens often contain plenty of important vitamins as well. So whether you get your minerals by the pill or by the plateful, increasing these nutrients in your daily diet is bound to pay off in better health now and, hopefully, fewer medical concerns down the road.



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