Women have unique requirements when it comes to nutrition and nutrients. At every phase of a woman’s life, nutrition and regular exercise form the cornerstone of good health and wellness. Nutrients for Women vary during during her puberty (adolescence), adulthood, pregnancy and senior health phases.
Nutrients for Women – Calcium
Getting enough calcium is crucial for women of every age. It is particularly important during adolescence and early adulthood, as this is when the bones are absorbing best. The absorption of calcium becomes slower with age. Calcium is beneficial for the prevention of osteoporosis in later years. Calcium also reduces the risk of high blood pressure and is known to reduce pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) by half. Adult women in the childbearing years require about 1000-1300 mg/day of calcium. Older women between 50-70 years of age need a calcium intake of 1200 mg/day. You must combine calcium and vitamin D to facilitate easy absorption. The daily intake recommended for vitamin D is 600 IU per day. You can get calcium easily from foods like dairy products, eggs, cereals, pulses and green leafy vegetables.
Nutrients for Women – Magnesium
Studies show that low consumption of magnesium may be linked to osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and also pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Typical symptoms of magnesium deficiency are cramps, muscular spasms, poor memory, sleep disorder and lethargy. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium is 300 mg. Unrefined cereals, legumes, green veggies, nuts and seeds are the best sources of magnesium.
Nutrients for Women – Iron
Iron is essential for healthy blood cells. Adult women from their early twenties up to 50 years of age need around 18 mg of iron every day. The requirement of iron almost doubles during pregnancy, and hence intake should be increased. While in the lactation period, the iron requirement reduces by half, as women don’t menstruate. But one should come back to iron consumption of 18 mg once menstruation begins. You need to ensure that you do not overdose on iron as it could leave you with constipation and related gut issues. Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, beetroot, poultry and fruits are few examples of iron-rich foods.
Nutrients for Women – Folic acid
Folic acid is a form of vitamin B complex that helps prevent neural tube birth defects or birth defects of the brain and spinal cord (spina bifida, anencephaly). Women usually get enough folic acid through their diet. However, gynaecologists prescribe folic acid supplements during pregnancy, to ensure that the recommended intake of folic acid of 400 to 800 mcg per day is satisfied. Carrot, beetroots, meat, lentils and dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of folic acid.
Nutrients for Women – Vitamin B12
This is the most essential nutrient for women as it is responsible for the health of the nervous system. There are minimal vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 as it is majorly found in animal sources. This is always a challenge for women who are vegans or vegetarians. Adult women need around 2.4 mcg/day vitamin B12, while pregnant women need about 2.6 mcg/day. There is a further requirement of 2.8 mcg of vitamin B12 during the lactation period in women. You can find this nutrient in foods like cheese, fish, liver, egg, milk and paneer.
Nutrients for Women – Vitamin B6
This nutrient plays a major role in the support of memory functions, in the formation of hemoglobin or red blood cells and assimilating energy from protein and carbohydrates. The recommended dosage is 1.5 mg per day. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause symptoms like worsening PMS, changes in mood, confusion, muscle pains and low energy. Good sources include sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, liver, fish, chickpeas, and chicken.
Nutrients for Women – Choline
Few studies have linked low choline levels to increased risk of neural tube birth defects. Though the recommended levels of this nutrient are not established, this is easy enough to get through your diet. Eggs are an excellent source of choline and eating a few eggs a week can provide the recommended dosage. Other choline-rich foods include peanuts and milk for vegetarians.
These essential fatty acids play numerous roles in the body, including building healthy brain and nerve cells. The requirement of omega 3 is 650mg. Many studies have shown that different types of omega 3, in the form of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) can help prevent premature births. It is also known to prevent heart diseases in women. Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and salmon fish are few excellent sources of omega 3.
Essential diet components for Women
Fiber is extremely important for the proper functioning of the colon and the gut. It helps lower the risk of many health conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. The requirement of fiber ranges from 25 gm to 40 gm for a woman. Fruits, vegetables, cereals, and pulses with skin are good sources of fiber.
As women age, the need for fluids increase. This is because kidneys become less efficient in removing toxins and drinking more fluids will help the kidneys to do their job. It is also important to note that thirst signals often become impaired with age. Hence, older women tend to drink lesser water and fluids. Apart from just plain water, try to include fluids in the form of fruit and vegetable juices, buttermilk or soups.
It is imperative that women take time to take care of their health. Women must take the right nutrients and alter the dosages at different phases of their lives. However you must take extreme caution to ensure you do not overdose on vitamins and minerals. Too much of any of these can be detrimental to the women and can also affect the fetus in pregnant women.
Consult the Nutritionists at BucketList Dreams and learn more about how to balance your diet with these important nutrients.