Weekend House Call: Women’s Health


NUTRITION. DR. COREY: LAST WEEK, I TALKED ABOUT MEN’S NUTRITION, AND NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING, MEN AND WOMEN DON’T START OUT ALL THAT DIFFERENTLY. BUT LIKE MANY THINGS, A WOMAN’S DIETARY NEEDS COMPLETELY CHANGE WHEN SHE HITS PUBERTY. ADULT WOMEN GENERALLY NEED TO EAT FEWER CALORIES THAN MEN. SOUND UNFAIR? BLAME IT ON BODY COMPOSITION. WOMEN TEND TO BE SMALLER AND HAVE HIGHER FAT PERCENTAGES THAN THEIR MUSCULAR MALE COUNTERPARTS. SINCE MUSCLE TAKES MORE CALORIES TO MAINTAIN THAN FAT, EVEN WHEN THEY SIT AROUND DOING NOTHING, MEN ARE BURNING MORE CALORIES. THE AVERAGE FEMALE NEEDS 1600 TO 2000 CALORIES PER DAY TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT, BUT YOU MAY NEED A LITTLE MORE IF YOU’RE HIGHLY ACTIVE. BY HIGHLY ACTIVE, I MEAN YOU TAKE PART IN A VIGOROUS LEVEL OF ACTIVITY FOR 60 MINUTES MOST DAYS OF THE WEEK. AND THAT’S RARE. IF YOU’RE WORKING SO HARD THAT YOU CAN’T SAY MORE THAN A FEW WORDS AT A TIME, THAT’S A VIGOROUS LEVEL OF ACTIVITY. THE SECOND RULE OF WOMEN’S NUTRITION CONCERNS THEIR NEED FOR MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH IRON AS MEN. THE BLOOD THAT WOMEN LOSE DURING MENSTRUATION EACH MONTH OFTEN LEADS TO IRON DEFICIENCY. STUDIES SHOW THAT WOMEN WITH LOW IRON HAVE TO USE MORE EFFORT TO DO THE SAME AMOUNT OF PHYSICAL WORK THAN WOMEN WHO ARE NOT IRON DEFICIENT. SO, THEY END UP FEELING EXHAUSTED AND UNABLE TO PERFORM AT THEIR BEST. FOR WOMEN UNDER 50, THE RECOMMENDED DAILY AMOUNT OF IRON IS 18 MILLIGRAMS. LEAN MEAT, LOW-MERCURY FISH, AND SKINLESS POULTRY ARE THE MOST OBVIOUS SOURCES OF IRON, BUT SPINACH, BEANS, LENTILS, AND OATMEAL ARE GREAT ALTERNATIVES FOR VEGETARIANS. FOR THE OVERACHIEVERS OUT THERE, UP THE AMOUNT OF IRON YOUR BODY ABSORBS BY COMBINING IT WITH VITAMIN C. IT’S AS SIMPLE AS DRINKING A GLASS OF ORANGE JUICE WITH YOUR OATMEAL IN THE MORNING OR ADDING A SIDE OF BROCCOLI TO YOUR DINNER. MEN AND WOMEN CAN BOTH BENEFIT FROM THE B-VITAMIN FOLATE, OR FOLIC ACID, WHICH HAS BEEN LINKED TO BETTER HEART HEALTH AND PROTECTION AGAINST COLON CANCER. THE DAILY RECOMMENDED INTAKE OF FOLIC ACID FOR MEN AND WOMEN IS 400 MICROGRAMS. BUT FOR WOMEN WHO ARE EITHER PREGNANT OR TRYING TO GET PREGNANT, THE DAILY RECOMMENDED VALUE INCREASES TO ABOUT 600 MICROGRAMS OF FOLIC ACID. THIS IS BECAUSE FOLATE CAN GREATLY REDUCE THE CHANCES OF NEUROLOGICAL BIRTH DEFECTS. BUT BE CAREFUL. RECENT STUDIES SUGGEST THAT AN EXCESS OF FOLATE MAY RAISE THE RISK OF BREAST AND COLON CANCERS. BUT THERE’S NO RISK IN OVERDOSING ON THE NATURAL FORM OF THIS VITAMIN, WHICH IS THE KIND YOU GET FROM FOODS LIKE LEAFY GREENS, BEANS, AND ORANGE JUICE. MEN AND WOMEN ARE VERY DIFFERENT, SO LADIES, DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO TO KEEP IT HEALTHY. I’M MEDICAL EDITOR DR. COREY

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