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Covenant Health System Dietitian Reveals Five Essential Nutrients Women Tend to Miss

12/07/2011

Covenant Health Dietitian Reveals Five Essential Nutrients Women Tend to Miss

Did you get enough vitamins today? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, women on average fall short of five critical nutrients: vitamin E, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and magnesium. Simple changes to a woman’s diet can help make up the difference and provide a powerful defense against disease and illness. Here are some tips developed by Jennifer Gorman, M.S., R.D., L.D., outpatient dietitian for Covenant Health, to help women consume adequate amounts of these five essential nutrients:

  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells, defends skin from ultraviolet damage and helps absorb other nutrients. The recommended daily intake is 15 milligrams. Green leafy vegetables, roasted sunflower seeds, nuts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, mangoes, asparagus, broccoli, papayas, olives and avocados are foods that are rich in vitamin E. Choose a couple of the following suggestions to help you reach your recommended daily intake:
    • Eat ¼ cup of dry roasted sunflower seeds tossed in a salad or by itself.
    • Sprinkle ¼ cup of wheat germ flakes in your yogurt.
    • Add one cup of red bell pepper to your pasta sauce.
    • Eat peanut butter with some chopped vegetables.
    • Sauté some leafy greens in one tablespoon of vegetable oil instead of butter for a side dish.
  • Potassium is an electrolyte that regulates your nervous system and aids the muscle contraction process. It also helps control blood pressure. The recommended daily intake is 4,700 milligrams. Good dietary sources of potassium include orange juice, beet greens, white beans, potatoes and bananas. Here are some tips to increase your daily potassium intake:
    • Have one medium baked potato (do not remove the skin). Top it with salsa or chives for a low-fat side dish.
    • Steam one cup of edamame with snow peas and corn kernels and then toss with dressing for a quick, warm salad.
    • Incorporate one cup of cooked spinach into a pasta dish.
    • Have a bowl of low-sodium lentil soup.
    • Eat a banana as a snack or add it to a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Calcium is a mineral that plays a vital role in building strong bones and defending against osteoporosis. The recommended daily intake is between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are well-known sources of calcium. Try some of the suggestions below:
    • Have one cup of low-fat plain yogurt paired with fresh berries for dessert.
    • Have a bowl of cream of wheat made with low-fat milk.
    • Stir-fry ½ cup of tofu with some vegetables.
    • Cook one cup of chopped bok choy (a type of cabbage) in a broth for a calcium-rich soup.
    • Have one serving of calcium fortified orange juice.
  • Vitamin A is a nutrient that keeps eyes, skin, gums and teeth healthy as well as boosts your immune system. The recommended daily intake is 2,400 international units for adults.  Be sure to get vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Carrots, sweet potatoes, collard greens, cheddar cheese, cantaloupe, eggs, apricots and peas are some common sources of vitamin A. Here are some tips to help you increase your vitamin A intake:
    • Have one small, baked sweet potato for a side dish.
    • Snack on 10 medium baby carrots and dip with hummus.
    • Eat one cup of cantaloupe cubes as a snack.
    • Have ½ cup of dried apricots handy for a light snack.
    • Have some dark leafy greens, such as Kale, in salad or steamed for a side dish.
  • Magnesium is a vital component of a healthy diet. This mineral helps store energy, keeps your blood circulating steadily and body functioning properly. Magnesium helps defend against asthma, diabetes and osteoporosis. The recommended daily intake is 320 milligrams. Almonds, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea, vegetables (especially green leafy ones), black beans and brown rice are rich sources of magnesium. Choose a couple of the following suggestions to help you reach your recommended daily intake:
    • Toss one cup of cooked black beans into a salad along with some chopped cilantro.
    • Chop and sprinkle one ounce (six to eight whole) nuts on your breakfast cereal.
    • Simmer one ounce of fresh or frozen chopped okra and add to chicken soup or stew.
    • Have one cup of cooked brown rice as a side to stir-fry.
    • Toast one ounce of slivered almonds and sprinkle on top of a fruit salad.

By adding a variety of foods to your diet, you can meet the recommendations for vitamins and minerals essential for your health. Talk with your physician or a registered dietitian to come up with an improved diet that fits your personal needs. Be sure to get your daily dose of essential nutrients to live a healthier life starting today.

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