It takes a lot to be woman today. In the days gone by, women and their responsibilities were limited to kitchen and the ‘cradle’. But the women of today shoulder much more responsibility. They are constantly working on maintaining a balance between work, home and baby. Such added responsibilities call for special nutrients for women, to give them the energy they need for the fulfillment of personal as well as professional commitments. Read on to know more about nutrients for women.
Here is a list of top 5 nutrients for women’s health:
Nutrients for Women
Calcium is considered the structural component or the cementing material of the body. We all know its importance in skeletal and dental formation. During her reproductive years, this is considered among the most essential of nutrients for a woman. She needs a fair amount of this mineral to help in her baby’s bone development process. Calcium is not only important for the skeleton, but it also has a role to play in nerve functioning, the blood clotting process and muscle health.
A woman loses calcium from her body during her menopausal period. Higher the loss, higher her susceptibility to bone problems like osteoporosis and osteomalacia. A study conducted in New York also suggested that women who were on calcium supplements had decreased PMS and experienced healthy aging.
Some calcium sources include:
- Ragi (finger millet), 100 g – 344 mg of calcium
- Amaranth leaves, 100 g – 395 mg
- Gingelly seed, 100 g – 1450 mg
- Buffalo milk, 100 ml – 210 mg.
Next in the list of important nutrients for women is iron. The basic function of iron is to help in the formation of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Women are at a greater risk of iron deficiency owing to blood loss during menstruation. Pregnant women have the highest requirements of iron as they need an increased blood supply during pregnancy for the growing baby. Additionally, a baby in the womb will need a regular supply of iron until the child is capable of eating an iron rich diet on his own. Some good iron sources include:
- Rice bran, 100 g – 35 mg of iron
- Rice flakes, 100 g – 20 mg
- Soybean, 100 g – 10 mg
- Amaranth leaves, 100 g – 18 mg
- Colocasia, 100 g – 10 mg
- Garden cress seeds, 1 teaspoon – 5 mg
- Liver – 7 mg
- Egg – 2 mg
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is widely distributed in nature hence, deficiencies are very rare. Vitamin E is among the important nutrients for women, as it helps in the reduction of premenstrual symptoms to a great extent. Headaches, cramps, upset stomach, bloating, migraines, irritability and many other symptoms may find relief with vitamin E intake. It lowers the chances of contracting different kinds of breast diseases, promotes skin health and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease.
Some good sources include vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, kiwi, whole grains, peanut butter, fish, leafy green vegetables, goat’s milk and fortified breakfast cereals.
4. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is among the important nutrients for women. It is present only in animal food and hence there is a risk of deficiency in women who are vegetarians. Vitamin B12 is responsible for proper functioning of the nervous system and for the metabolism of folic acid. It is concerned with the maturation of the cells, and a deficiency may lead to megaloblastic anemia. Severe pernicious anemia may progress to the nerves or brain causing spinal cord degeneration, which can result in weakness, numbness, tingling sensations, shooting pains and diminished reflex response. Psychological symptoms may include mood changes with mental slowness and sensory hallucinations. Paranoid symptoms may also occur.
In older women, vitamin B12 is used to deal with psychological symptoms including senile psychosis (marked by delusions and hallucinations). It has also been used for treating other symptoms including fatigue, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, memory problems, depression and poor balance. The food sources are liver, kidney, meats, fish and dairy products.
5. Folic Acid
The next of the important nutrients for women is folic acid. When a woman takes enough folic acid before and during pregnancy, it may help prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain and spine. Folic acid may also have other benefits for men and women of any age. Some studies show that folic acid may help prevent heart diseases, stroke, some cancers and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
Folic acid supplements help relieve hot flashes in post-menopausal women. Folate deficiency has been hypothesized to lead to elevated homocysteine levels, which, in turn, lead to an increased risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis and reduction in bone mineral density. The food sources are broccoli, asparagus, bananas, orange, peas, nuts, breads, cereal, wholegrain flours and folate fortified products.
The RDA of these Nutrients for Women –
Calcium – Up to 500 mg/day. During pregnancy and lactation RDA is 1,000 mg/day.
Iron – Up to 30 mg/day. During pregnancy and lactation RDA is 38 mg/day.
Vitamin E – Up to 15 mg/day. During pregnancy and lactation RDA is 18 mg/day.
Vitamin B12 – The RDA for Indian women is up to 1 ug/day.
Folic Acid – Up to 100 ug/day. During pregnancy RDA is 400 ug/day.
These are the top 5 nutrients for women’s health and well being. These nutrients for women are essential for a healthy life.
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