Nutrition For Women

Whether you’re looking to improve your energy and mood, combat stress, or boost fertility, what you fuel your body with can have a significant impact. A diet filled with whole, real foods can support your body in many ways.

Learn more about real foods here

Along with this, it is very important to acknowledge that men and women have differing nutritional needs as a result of differences in their bodies. For example, hormonal changes associated with menstruation, childbearing, and menopause mean that women have a higher risk of anemia, osteoporosis, and various nutritional deficiencies. Women require specific balances of their macronutrients and essential vitamins and minerals to support their unique physiological needs.


Macronutrients, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, are the cornerstone of a nutritionally complete diet. 

Proteins are essential for tissue repair, muscle growth, and hormone production, making them especially vital for women's health. 

Healthy, naturally occurring fats, including those from well-raised animals, fatty fish, oily fruits (avocados and olives) and nuts and seeds are crucial for hormone regulation, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and maintaining healthy skin and hair. Fats also serve as an energy source for the body. Read on here to download our fat guide

Carbohydrates serve primarily as a source of energy, supporting brain function and fueling physical activities. 

Importance Of Protein

Optimal protein consumption is paramount for women's health due to its essential role in supporting various bodily functions. There are multiple reasons protein is particularly important for women:

Muscle Maintenance and Growth: Adequate protein intake is crucial for preserving muscle mass and promoting muscle growth. As women age, they naturally experience a decline in muscle mass, which can lead to decreased strength and mobility. Consuming enough protein through diet or supplementation can help counteract this muscle loss, preserving strength and function.

Hormone Regulation: Proteins, along with fats, are the building blocks of hormones, which play a significant role in regulating metabolism, mood, and reproductive health. Hormonal imbalances can contribute to issues such as irregular menstruation, fertility problems, and menopausal symptoms. 

Recovery and Immune Function: Protein is essential for tissue repair and immune function, helping the body recover from injury, illness, and stress. Including protein-rich foods in the diet supports the body's ability to repair and regenerate tissues, as well as defend against infections and diseases.

Bone Health: While calcium often takes the spotlight for bone health, protein is also essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Collagen, a protein found in bones, provides structural support and resilience. Ensuring an adequate intake of protein helps support bone density and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially as women age.

Hair, Skin, and Nail Health: Proteins play a vital role in the formation of collagen, elastin, and keratin, which are essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Protein supports the structural integrity and elasticity of these tissues, promoting vibrant skin, lustrous hair, and strong nails.

Satiety and Weight Management: Protein is known for its satiating effect, meaning it helps increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction after meals. By including protein-rich foods in their diet, women can better manage their appetite. This can be particularly beneficial for weight management and preventing overeating, ultimately supporting a healthy body weight.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: During pregnancy and lactation, women have increased protein needs to support fetal growth, maternal tissue expansion, and milk production. Adequate protein intake during these stages is crucial for ensuring optimal maternal and infant health outcomes, including proper fetal development and healthy breastfeeding. Read more on nutrition for nursing women in this post.

Well-raised animals, wild-caught fish, pastured pork and chicken and eggs from these chickens serve as the best sources of dietary protein. This article delves deeper into protein sources.

Importance of Fats

Fats play a crucial role in women's health, supporting various physiological functions throughout the body. These include

Hormone Regulation: Fats are essential for the production of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, which regulate the menstrual cycle, fertility, and menopausal transitions. Adequate intake of healthy fats supports hormone synthesis and balance, promoting reproductive health and overall well-being.

Brain Function and Cognitive Health: The brain is composed primarily of fat, with essential fatty acids playing a vital role in cognitive function, memory, and mood regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are critical for brain development and maintenance, supporting mental clarity and emotional well-being. Women may benefit from omega-3s during pregnancy and postpartum to support fetal brain development and mitigate the risk of postpartum depression.

Absorption of Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which play essential roles in vision, bone health, antioxidant protection, and blood clotting. These fats are essential to ensure efficient absorption of these vitamins, supporting overall health and vitality.

Heart Health: While fats have been singled out as contributing to cardiovascular disease, healthy fats are, in fact, beneficial for heart health. These fats help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and improve blood vessel function, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Skin, Hair, and Nail Health: Fats are integral for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails, providing moisture, elasticity, and protection against environmental damage. Essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s support skin barrier function, reducing dryness, inflammation, and signs of aging. These fats promote radiant skin, lustrous hair, and strong nails.

Weight Management: Despite their higher calorie density, fats contribute to feelings of satiety and satisfaction after meals, helping regulate appetite and prevent overeating. Including moderate amounts of healthy fats in the diet can support weight management efforts by promoting fullness and reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping mitigate inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health conditions, including arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease. Including omega-3-rich foods in the diet supports overall health and reduces the risk of inflammatory disorders.

It is important to prioritize whole food sources of fats and limit intake of processed and trans fats to optimize health outcomes. Learn more about healthy fats here

Braised Brisket with Garlic Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach with Butternut Squash - Pete's Paleo

Micronutrients For Women’s Health

Women require specific micronutrients to optimize their health. Understanding the bioavailability of micronutrients in different foods can help women make informed dietary choices to meet their nutritional needs. Pairing foods rich in certain micronutrients with enhancers like vitamin C or healthy fats can optimize absorption and support overall health and well-being

Micronutrients to focus on:


Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues and organs. Women are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency due, in part, to menstrual blood loss, pregnancy, and lactation.

Heme iron, found in animal products such as red meat, poultry, and fish, is more readily absorbed by the body compared to non-heme iron from plant-based sources like beans, lentils, and spinach. Pairing non-heme iron sources with vitamin C-rich foods can enhance absorption.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, while vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption and bone mineralization. Women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, making adequate calcium and vitamin D intake crucial for bone health.

Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich sources of calcium with high bioavailability. Additionally, fortified plant-based milk alternatives and leafy greens like kale and collard greens provide calcium. Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight, but it can also be obtained from fatty fish, fortified foods, and supplements. Read on here for more on sources of calcium and here for more on Vitamin D


Folate is essential for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and neural tube development during pregnancy. Adequate folate intake reduces the risk of neural tube defects in newborns.

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale, citrus fruits and appropriately prepared beans and lentils are excellent sources of folate. Cooking methods can affect folate levels, with minimal losses occurring when vegetables are lightly cooked or steamed.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are beneficial for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation. Women may benefit from omega-3s during pregnancy for fetal brain development and postpartum mood support.

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich sources of EPA and DHA with high bioavailability. Plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to EPA and DHA, but conversion rates in the body are limited.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for nerve function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. Women, especially vegetarians and vegans, are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency due to limited dietary sources.

Animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy are the most reliable sources of vitamin B12. Fortified foods like plant-based milk alternatives and nutritional yeast are options for vegetarians and vegans.


Want nutritious, delicious, chef prepared meals done for you. no apron required? Pete's Real Food has options from Paleo, to VeganKeto to AIPbreakfastssnacks and treats and kids lunches. All our menus change weekly – order your selections from this week’s menus here >>>>>>

Optimal nutrition is essential for supporting women's health throughout their lives. By prioritizing macronutrients, emphasizing the importance of protein, incorporating essential vitamins and minerals, and sourcing nutrient-dense foods, women can nourish their bodies and minds to thrive at every stage of their lives

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