How would you describe your eating habits for the day? Do you skip breakfast? Grab a quick sandwich for lunch? Are you fatigued or do you have enough energy to make it through the long day? Is dinner hard to plan or do you take time to prepare a healthy option? Our bodies require specific nutrients for energy, bone and muscle repair and a healthy immune system. I like to eat foods that give me energy but I love a tasty snack during the day. How do I know I am getting enough of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that my body needs each day? I have some excellent information on vitamins, and minerals to share along with some food label information to make your meal choices easier.
Vitamin B12 packs a punch when it comes to keeping your metabolism cruising along. Vitamin B12 helps make DNA and keeps your cells healthy. I can find it in several of my favorite foods such as meats, eggs, yogurt, fish and one of my all-time favorites, cheese. Let’s look at yogurt in particular. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt contains 1.3 micrograms of vitamin B12. You need around 2.4 micrograms to hit your daily requirement. When you choose a yogurt snack or to add it to a meal, you are getting 53% of your daily requirements.
Vitamin C creates and sustains collagen in your body. Collagen is a protein that strengthens our connective tissues (bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage). It strengthens blood vessels and gives skin its elasticity and strength. I love to choose strawberries to get 98 milligrams in a cup. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C but you can also find it in yellow bell peppers (½ cup yields 155 milligrams) and papaya (½ a papaya gives 238 milligrams). Kale makes a great salad with 150 milligrams in 2 cups.The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C for women is 75 milligrams a day. Women who smoke need 250 milligrams a day. Pregnant women should have 85 milligrams while breast-feeding mothers need 120 milligrams.
We require iron to transport oxygen throughout the body. When your diet lacks iron, you do not have enough red blood cells to carry the oxygen. Additionally iron is needed for healthy cells, skin, hair and nails. If you seem fatigued, dizzy and cold, you may be iron deficient. You can add oatmeal to your breakfast to get iron. For dinner you could whip up a pot roast or add beans to homemade soup. Women from ages 19 to 50 require 18 milligrams of iron a day. After menopause women need 8 milligrams a day. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, discuss your iron needs with your physician.
Magnesium is a vital nutrient for your heart. It helps the heart muscle function efficiently and helps maintain a normal blood pressure. An added benefit is that it can help relieve constipation. Almonds are an excellent choice to add magnesium to your meals. Whole grains, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables all provide magnesium. My most favorite is dark chocolate! Ask your health provider to see if you need to add any magnesium supplements to your diet.
Reading Your Food Labels
As you select your foods for the day, take time to glance at the labels. If you look at the label here, you can see where to find the vitamins and nutrients. They are under the bold line toward the bottom of the label. Eating this food would provide you with 2% of your daily vitamin C. Thus you should find more foods containing vitamin C to
supplement your diet.
Calories per serving are listed on the label near the top. Don’t forget that if you eat the whole container of a food that you need to multiply the calories in a serving by the number of servings in a container. For example you would multiply 250 by 2 to get a total of 500 calories for this container.
Make Healthy Choices at the Store
Choosing delicious and healthy foods is not hard to accomplish when shopping for yourself and your family. Go to your produce area and grab some apples, bananas, peaches, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and kale. These foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that will keep your body strong and healthy. Include dairy items like low fat milk and cheese to round out the meal. Discover the great tastes of fresh fish, lean beef, chicken or turkey to add protein and iron! When in season, seek out your local farmer’s market to find scrumptious and freshly picked vegetables and fruits.
Be Knowledgeable about Your Daily Nutrients
Discuss your vitamin and mineral needs with your health provider and read the food labels to see if a food provides necessary nutrients. By tweaking a few foods in your diet, you may find yourself revitalized and full of energy!
Because it all begins with a healthy woman…
Sue Ann Thompson is founder and president of the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF), a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential. WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit wwhf.org or call 1-800-448-5148.