Because women typically have less muscle, more fat and are smaller than men, they need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercise helps with weight control, muscle strength and stress management and is an important part of women’s health.

Nutrition needs for women are different than for men. Women need fewer calories yet require more of several nutrients. Hormonal changes throughout a woman’s life places her at increased risk of anemia and weakened bones.

Many women fall short of their daily nutritional requirements and rely on supplements. But supplements really can’t compensate for an unbalanced or unhealthy diet.

Following are some foods that will help every woman meet her unique needs at various stages in her life.

Pump up your iron. One of the main reasons for fatigue in women is anemia. Blood loss through monthly menstruation can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should get 18 milligrams of iron daily in their diets. Lentils are an excellent source of iron, providing 30 percent of the recommended amount in just one cup. One ounce of pumpkin seeds will contributes 23 percent of the recommended amount. Lean beef is another good source for iron, with three ounces providing 18 percent of the recommended amount. Adequate vitamin C in the diet is essential to help the body absorb iron.

Bone builders. Women continue to build bone into their mid-twenties. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for promoting bone density. Women under 50 years old need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Dairy is the first choice when it comes to calcium, with one cup of milk or yogurt providing about 300 milligrams of calcium. Parmesan cheese is a good option with 340 milligrams of calcium in just one ounce. Nondairy sources of calcium include sardines, with two ounces providing 217 milligrams of calcium, and kale, with one cup providing 245 milligrams of calcium.

Food for fertility. Adequate folic acid in a woman’s diet, before and during pregnancy, decreases the chances of neurological birth defects in babies. Many cereals are fortified with folic acid and can provide 100 percent of what you need in one serving. The minimum recommendation is 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Dark leafy greens are a good source, with one cup of spinach providing 263 micrograms of folic acid. Beans are another good source with one cup of black beans contributing 256 micrograms. In addition to folic acid, eating yogurt promotes good urinary and vaginal health by supplying an abundance of good bacteria.

Cancer protection. Cancer is the second-leading killer of women, behind heart disease. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, have properties that help slow cancer growth. Mushrooms can help decrease the effect of aromatase, a protein that helps produce estrogen, a major factor in some breast cancers. The lycopene in tomatoes helps protect DNA from damage that can lead to cancer.

Guard your heart. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. A basic heart-healthy diet includes lean meats, low-fat dairy, low sodium, whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables. The following foods also are good for heart health: beets to help lower blood pressure, nuts to raise HDL levels, salmon for omega 3 fats, oatmeal for soluble fiber, apples for pectin to lower cholesterol, and berries for powerful antioxidants.

Mood boosters. Women are more prone to depression and anxiety, and stress puts the immune system at risk for several diseases. Dark chocolate can help lower cortisol, the stress hormone. Whole grains are rich in B vitamins, which are needed to convert foods to energy and to help regulate mood swings. Beans can help diminish PMS symptoms due to their abundance of magnesium, which boosts serotonin levels.

Look better. It’s no question that women are under more pressure than men to look good. Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which gives skin its elasticity. Citrus fruits and bell peppers are excellent sources. Mushrooms are high in copper, which can help prevent premature graying. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help with weight loss.

Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce redness. Resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, may help slow aging by quenching harmful free radicals that damage your skin. Drinking green tea can help protect your skin from sun damage. Fresh herbs, such as cilantro, help reduce toxins in your body, which can lessen the appearance of cellulite.

Managing menopause. Women approaching menopause need even more calcium and vitamin D because calcium is leaked from the bones when estrogen levels decline. Women older than 51 need 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily. Egg yolks are a good source of vitamin D. High-fiber foods, such as whole grains and vegetables, can help stabilize estrogen levels, regulate blood sugars and help with weight loss. Foods that may help with hot flashes include soy, flaxseed, almonds and beans.

Because women typically have less muscle, more fat and are smaller than men, they need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Regular exercise helps with weight control, muscle strength and stress management and is an important part of women’s health.