6 Nutrients Women Need for Optimum Health!



At 20, we were INVINSIBLE, or so we thought. We ate some of this, we drank a lot of that, and exercise? Wait, what was that?

But as we age so does the need to replace and increase specific nutrients in our body to maintain optimum health!

Without addressing these changing needs we run the risk of developing heart disease, Osteoporosis, stroke and various types of cancers”, according to Michelle Pennington L.D., R.D.

These hormonal shifts are responsible for most of the side effects and changes in our health, including hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, weight gain, night sweats and depression.

Sharing 6 of these critical nutrients is Registered and Licensed Dietician, Michelle Pennington of Fresenius Kidney Care in Home Therapies Dialysis Centers in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

  1. Probiotics: Bacteria in the gut can fluctuate as hormonal levels change, especially during perimenopause and menopause. Symptoms can include: bloating, gas, constipation, digestive issues and dreaded belly fat. Probiotics can help alleviate these symptoms and assist with weight-loss.
  • Natural Sources – Dark chocolate, Greek yogurt, Apple Cider Vinegar, Unpasteurized raw cheese, Sauerkraut, Green Olives and Miso are some healthy alternatives.
  • Supplemental Sources – Probiotics with at least 10 million CFU’s and 5 different strains of bacteria.
  1. Calcium: Bone mineral density hits it peak at age 30 in women and then begins to decline, increasing more rapidly through menopause. This can lead to Osteoporosis (weakened and brittle bones).
  • Natural Sources – Fat-free, lactose-free and low fat dairy products, nuts, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli and edamame as well as fortified juices and cereal bars, just to name a few. Four servings a day is recommended.
  • Supplemental Sources – 1,000 to 1,200 mg from a daily
  1. Vitamin D: Women are at higher risk for bone fractures with lowering levels of estrogen. Vitamin D assists in calcium being deposited into the bones. Since women are decreasing sun exposure due to risk of skin cancer as well as the sun’s aging skin effects, it is becoming more common to have a Vitamin D deficiency. In fact, approximately 75% of the population may be Vitamin D deficient. In recent studies, Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, asthma, allergies as well as breast and colon cancers.
  • Natural Sources – Soy, almond or low fat dairy products, mushrooms, pork, foods fortified with Vitamin D, like orange juice and cereal, as well fatty fish including salmon, tuna, sardines and flounder are a few great sources. Oh, and of course a little direct sunlight!
  • Supplemental Sources –600-2000 IU’s are recommended daily. Have your Vitamin D level checked to see how much supplementation you may need.
  1. Omega Fatty Acids: When Estrogen levels decrease, women’s risk of heart disease begins to equal that of men, in fact heart disease is the number one killer of women! Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce overall risk for cardiovascular disease by decreasing plaque build up on our arteries, lowering triglycerides and raising good cholesterols. Additionally, Omega 3 Fatty Acids have powerful antioxidants that preserve brain function including cognitive delay, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Natural Sources – The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sole, sardines or herring) per week AND taking a fish oil supplement. See supplemental source.
  • Supplemental Sources – 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily.
  1. Vitamin B12: As we age absorbing Vitamin B12 from our diet becomes more difficult for our bodies. B12 is essential for keeping up your metabolism and creating new proteins, as well as possible positive cardiovascular effects.
  • Natural Sources – Shellfish, sardines, chicken, salmon, turkey, eggs, dairy products and red meat are some suggested options.
  • Supplemental Sources – 2.4 mg daily.
  1. Folic Acid: This B vitamin helps slow cellular degeneration, which can assist in preventing dementia, cognitive decline, heart disease and stroke.
  • Natural Sources – Leafy green vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, seeds and nuts, brussel sprouts, beans, peas and lentils are some choices to consider. Five servings of fruits and vegetables including these foods can ensure adequate intake.
  • Supplemental Sources – 400 mg daily.

Natural sources for obtaining proper nutrients are always preferred, however sometimes supplements are needed. By meeting our bodies changing needs as we age, we will reap the rewards of a healthier life!


Safety Note – Before beginning a new fitness or diet regiment you should consult a physician.


Michelle Pennington L.D., R.D. has been in the healthcare industry in South Florida for 27 years. As a graduate of the University of Florida receiving a B.S. degree in Clinical and Community Dietetics, Michelle began her career as an Intern with Shands Hospital in Gainesville and the Doral Spa in Miami. Later she worked for several hospitals in South Florida specializing in Orthopedics, Pediatrics and Geriatrics. She became a diabetes educator and worked with North Broward Diabetes Center as well as Deerfield Century Village outpatient diabetes and weight-loss center. At North Broward Hospital, she was the Cardiac and Wellness Dietitian, measuring anthropometrics, body fat and consulting on Heart-Healthy diet regimes.


Please let me know if you found this article useful. You are welcome to add your comments below.

Thank you – Michelle








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