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Just for Her


Women and Nutrition: A Menu of Special Needs

by Dori Stehlin


Calcium1,200 milligrams (19 to 24),
800 milligrams (25 to 50)
Phosphorus1,200 milligrams (19 to 24),
800 milligrams (25 to 50)
Magnesium280 milligrams
Iron15 milligrams
Zinc12 milligrams
Iodine150 micrograms
Selenium55 micrograms

Figure Out Your Fat

The recommendation is that no more than 30 percent of total calories come from fat. Food labels list fat in grams. To find out what your total intake of fats in grams should be limited to, multiply your daily calories by 0.30 (30 percent) and divide by 9 (the number of calories in a gram of fat).

2,200 calories x 0.30 = 660 calories from fat
660 calories/9 = 73 grams of fat

Getting a Variety of Foods

The Dietary Guidelines say that the many nutrients you need should come from a variety of foods, not from a few highly fortified foods or supplements. A good way to ensure variety is to choose foods each day from the five major food groups. USDA has developed a daily food guide for a well-balanced diet that suggests the following:

  • vegetables--3 to 5 servings
  • fruits--2 to 4 servings
  • breads, cereals, rice, pasta--6 to 11 servings
  • milk, yogurt, cheese--2 to 3 servings
  • meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts--2 to 3 servings

This food guide is "a useful, simple way for women to look at their own diets and see how to improve them," says Stephenson. By choosing different foods from each group daily, the food guide can serve as the basis for the dietary guideline "eat a variety of foods," says Stephenson, and "that's a tenet of nutritional advice for all people."

Finally, the guidelines are meant for the average person, cautions Walter H. Glinsmann, M.D., FDA's associate director for clinical nutrition. "Almost nobody is average, he says.Lifestyle, genetics and conditions such as pregnancy or disease can also affect a person's nutritional needs, he explains.

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