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Top Trends in Women's Health and Nutrition for 2021

May is Women’s Health Month so we’re exploring 2021’s food and beverage trends like flexitarian, digestion, and weight management and how they are influencing women’s health and nutrition. Learn the latest nutrient recommendations for women at every age, the trends women are embracing and why. 

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans report has identified serious nutrient gaps in the typical American adult diet, with the top nutrients of concern being dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and for females of menstruating age, folic acid and iron.1 These last four nutrients are especially significant for women. 

Nutritious Diet vs. Nutritional Supplements

According to the Dietary Guidelines, low intakes of these nutrients are primarily due to eating patterns that are low in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy. Fortunately, healthy eating is on-trend, but many Americans still have a long way to go to achieve optimal nutrition. 

Fortified foods and nutritional supplements can play an important role in meeting these nutrient shortfalls—especially those containing calcium, vitamin D, folate, and iron for women.

Macronutrients for Women2

Women should aim for about 46 grams of protein and 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, while limiting their fat intake to 20-35% of the day’s calories.

Fiber needs range from 22-28 grams daily, depending on age. As a nutrient of concern, fiber (which is plentiful in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits) is important in supporting digestive and heart health. Women of every age should strive to keep their added sugars and saturated fat intakes below 10% of their daily calories.

Women’s Estimated Daily Macronutrient Needs by Age

Age Protein (g) Carbs (g) Dietary Fiber (g) Added Sugars
(% cal)
Total Fat
(% cal)
Sat. Fat
(% cal)
19-30 46 130 28 <10 20-35 <10
31-50 46 130 25 <10 20-35 <10
51+ 46 130 22 <10 20-35 <10

 

Micronutrients for Women3

Sufficient calcium and vitamin D intakes are important in maintaining bone health in all stages of life, but especially for women later in life when bone density declines. Women’s daily calcium requirements are 1,000 mg through age 50 and 1,200 mg thereafter, while their vitamin D needs are 600 IU. 

In addition, women should ensure sufficient iron intakes to reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia. Iron requirements are high for women (at 18 mg) through age 50 and then drop to 8 mg. Folate is also an essential nutrient with a requirement of 400 mcg from age 19 onward. Among other key nutrients, magnesium needs increase slightly after 31 for females and Vitamin D needs increase slightly after 70.

Women’s Estimated Daily Mineral Needs by Age for 6 Key Minerals

Age Calcium (mg) Folate (mcg DFE) Iron (mg) Magnesium (mg) Potassium (mg) Sodium (mg)
19-30 1,000 400 18 310 4,700 2,300
31-50 1,000 400 18 320 4,700 2,300
51+ 1,200 400 8 320 4,700 2,300

 

Women’s Estimated Daily Vitamin Needs by Age for 6 Key Vitamins

Age Vitamin A (mg RAE*) Vitamin B6 (mg) Vitamin B12 (mcg) Vitamin C (mg) Vitamin D (IU) Vitamin E (mg AT)
19-30 700 1.3 2.4 75 600 15
31-50 700 1.3 2.4 75 600 15
51-70 700 1.5 2.4 75 600 15
71+ 700 1.5 2.4 75 800 15

*DFE = Dietary Folate Equivalent; RAE=Retinol Activity Equivalents

 

man and woman running on beach

Women’s Varying Calorie Needs

A top priority in women’s health and nutrition is achieving a healthy weight, as more than half of American women are overweight or obese. Women’s calorie needs are based on age and activity level, with younger women and active women requiring more calories.

Women’s Estimated Daily Calorie Needs by Age and Activity Level4

Age Sedentary Moderately Active Active
19-25 2,000 2,200 2,400
26-30 1,800 2,000 2,400
31-50 1,800 2,000 2,200
51-60 1,600 1,800 2,200
61+ 1,600 1,800 2,000

 

Popular Nutrition Trends for Women

Flexitarian and plant-based lifestyles have become more popular than ever. While a shift toward more legumes, whole grains, and vegetables is essential to increasing dietary intakes of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, anyone eliminating all animal products should be sure to supplement with vitamin B12, as it’s not found in plants. Dairy alternatives (like oat milk and coconut yogurt) fortified with calcium and vitamin D can also help support a healthy plant-forward lifestyle.

Immunity and digestive health for women also remain top priorities. According to our ongoing survey of US consumers, 1 in 3 female consumers taking supplements are doing so for digestive health.5 Lactoferrin is a powerhouse ingredient to balance iron in body without upsetting digestion. 

Women’s interest in weight management is also helping to drive the trend in low and no added sugar products, such as no sugar added flavored waters and naturally sweetened functional juice and smoothies. The keto diet—based on the elimination of non-fiber carbs and the addition of MCTs to promote ketosis—is another trending weight management tool many are using to jumpstart weight loss. Since the keto diet restricts certain food groups such as fruits and grains, anyone using this diet over the long term should consider nutritional supplements.

Make It a Healthy Food Future for Females

Easy access to key nutrients through both supplements and great-tasting functional food and beverage options is critical to catering to the needs of women today. We help manufacturers create the food and beverage products that women want and need, for example, a female-focused, keto-inspired complete meal replacement with essential proteins, MCTs and Bioferrin® lactoferrin. If that is not what you are looking for, we’ll collaborate to develop a fortification strategy for supplements, nutrition bars, or dairy alternatives created just for women. 

Get in touch to learn more about fortifying your products to support women’s health and nutrition!

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References

1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, 9th Ed. (2020). Chapters 4 and 6.
2-3. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, 9th Ed. (2020). Appendix 1. Table A1-2: Daily Nutritional Goals, Ages 2 and Older. 
4. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, 9th Ed. (2020). Appendix 2. Table A2-2: Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level, Ages 2 and Older.
5. GN Proprietary COVID-19 Consumer Tracker Week 54, fielded March 29, 2021.

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