Vitamins & Minerals Every Woman Should Eat

By Ash Stevens

We all know that diet is an important part of looking and feeling good, but women have even larger demands for certain vitamins and minerals because of pregnancy and menstruation. It’s always wise to incorporate multivitamins and supplements into the daily routine, but there are things we can get from the garden and local market that can turn the kitchen into our own little vitamin shop. Here are five vitamins and minerals worthy of every veggie-loving female.

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Photo by djjewelz



Iron

We all know iron is needed for blood, and that’s because it builds the hemoglobin that red blood cells need to transport oxygen. Iron is even more important for women because of the regular blood loss from menstruation and the increased blood volume during pregnancy. Getting enough iron will keep red blood cells fully stocked, and it can also help us avoid fatigue and that infamous brain fog too.

iStock_000004541004_LargeWomen ages 19-50 should push for 18 milligrams of iron, and in one cup we’ll get…

  • 20 mg from Pumpkin Seeds
  • 6.4 mg from Spinach
  • 3.2 mg from Turnip Greens  
  • 2.5 mg from Peas
  • 1.2 mg from Potatoes
  • 1.2 mg from Thyme (per teaspoon)



Magnesium

Epsom salts are famous for easing constipation and making a relaxing bath, but that time in the tub is actually good for our health too. Magnesium doesn’t get much attention, but this important mineral plays a role in nearly every process within the body. It that’s not reason enough to eat, studies have even shown that it can help reduce PMS. This mineral is clearly worthy of our space in the garden.

iStock_000013060426_LargeWomen should aim for about 320 milligrams of Magnesium a day. In one cup we can get…

  • 738 mg from Pumpkin Seeds
  • 150 mg from Sunflower Seeds
  • 48 mg from Peas
  • 47 mg from Corn



Calcium

Healthy teeth and bones take calcium, but did you know that our blood requires a regular supply of it too? Calcium is a mineral that performs important functions with blood clotting and nerve and muscle function. Our bodies require a bare minimum to do it’s daily work, so when we fall short on our dietary needs our bodies turn to the calcium within our bones. Years of failing to meet this nutritional need leads to the weak and porous bones of Osteoporosis. The demands of pregnancy make calcium an even more important part of a woman’s diet, so don’t put your bone health on the backburner. Make this mineral a part of your diet with tasty garden vegetables high in calcium.

iStock_000017818166_LargeFemales under 50 should strive for 50 milligrams per day. In one cup of cooked veggies we receive…

  • 268 mg from Collards
  • 245 mg from Spinach
  • 172 mg from Curly Kale
  • 197 mg from Turnip Greens   



Vitamin A

Healthy eyes are thanks to this vitamin, but Vitamin A offers immunity and radiant skin as well. Gardens and farmers’ markets are brimming with veggies high in beta-carotene (which our bodies turn into Vitamin A). Cooking can serve to fill your belly as well as to help keep you healthy and glowing, but try to keep stove time to a minimum. Piping hot foods aren’t ideal as heat damages Vitamin A and boiling will cause vitamins to leach out into cooking water, so turn down the heat or opt for a quick steam as necessary.   

iStock_000018719369_MediumOf the recommended 2,310 IU of Vitamin A, only one cup of raw veggies offers…  

  • 21,383 IU from carrots
  • 18,866 IU from sweet potatoes
  • 14,883 IU from butternut squash
  • 6,317 IU from Turnip Greens
  • 2813 IU from Spinach
  • 2400 IU from Collards



Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is known as folic acid when it comes to supplement, but in the garden the naturally-occurring form is called folate. It’s an important part of every diet because of it’s role in producing DNA, RNA, and blood cells, but it’s a must-have for premenopausal women. Vitamin B9 plays a very important role early in pregnancy by developing fetal neural tubes, so any female able to have children would be wise to meet their daily folate needs. Doctors everywhere recommend that women take a folic acid supplement, but we can look to the garden for edible folate too. B9 is yet another vitamin sensitive to heat, so remember to take special considerations with cooking.

iStock_000011811263_MediumIt’s suggested that we get 400 micrograms per day, and just one cup of raw produce provides…

  •  58 µg from Spinach
  • 106µg from Turnip Greens
  • 129 µg from Collards
  • 122 µg from Avocados
  • 104 µg from Asparagus

Thanks to Nutrition Data for all the great food facts, and to Web MD for the daily intake recommendations.




Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 2.36.46 PMAsh Stevens is a gardener, a writer, and a fan of all things green. Her love for health and sustainability began with her journey into motherhood, and it’s grown exponentially ever since. She’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle through gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors. If she isn’t writing or reading up on exciting green trends, she’s probably playing Connect Four or swimming in the river with the kids. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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