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Essential Nutrients Every Woman Needs

By Rachel Reiff Ellis
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD

Any woman who’s ever cared for a newborn can tell you -- it’s a lot of work. But after Amy Brennan had her second child, she says she was so tired she couldn’t function.

“I was dealing with crippling fatigue almost to the point of not being able to care for my kids,” she says. 

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Even more troubling, she also began having heart palpitations and shortness of breath. “I started worrying about heart issues,” Brennan says. And with good reason. “My dad had his first two heart attacks at age 45, a triple bypass, and died at age 59.”

A blood test revealed that her symptoms weren’t signs of heart trouble. They were caused by a severe case of anemia, a blood disorder. Her body was low on iron, a common culprit behind the condition.

Now she takes two iron pills a day, plus vitamin C. "And I eat my leafy greens!” she says. “It took several months, but I finally returned to normal.”

Women aren’t the only ones who get anemia, but they’re at the highest risk. That’s because they lose iron during their periods. From puberty through menopause, they need more of this mineral in their diets than men do -- and as much as three times more during pregnancy.  

Iron is just one crucial nutrient you need to stay in tip-top shape, ladies. Here's how to get the right nutrition throughout life to help maximize your health.

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