5 Major Nutrients for Women’s Health
M-Phil, Food Science & Nutrition
Apart from having a complicated system inducted with reproduction, a woman’s body is also prone to many diseases like breast cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes etc.
A woman’s life is even more stressful and busy these days.
They run about from taking care of the family to workspace due to which, they fall short on essential nutrients.
Nutrient deficiency in women can cause early ageing, complication at pregnancy and prolonged PMS. On the other hand, nutrition can contribute to a woman’s good health and prosperity.
Nutrients that help women to stay on top of their shape
Calcium is amongst the vital nutrients that help women proliferate new bone cells and maintain an adequate calcium level during breastfeeding and menopause. The onset of menopause can decrease the ability of make bone cells, hence, it is advisable to consume calcium-rich food.
Dairy products are the best source of calcium, however, most of us do not prefer dairies. This does not mean, we can abandon our calcium needs. There are some other excellent calcium sources like ragi, tofu, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, sesame seeds and fish with soft bones such as salmon and sardines.
Take away: Calcium helps in producing new bone cells. Consuming more of dairy products and other calcium-rich foods help in new and stronger bone cell formation.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (2010) for Calcium for is 600 mg.
2. Vitamin D
As Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, women with Vitamin D deficiency mostly develop brittle bones, or in worse cases, osteoporosis due to lack of Vitamin D and calcium.
According to a study issued in the New England Journal of Medicine, consuming Vitamin D every day may lower the risk of bone fractures in older women by 30 per cent.
The sources of vitamin D are varied. Sunlight is the best source for Vitamin D, however, there are other alternatives that provide Vitamin D in abundances like yoghurt, milk and cottage cheese.
Other sources include white button mushroom and a whole egg, fish, oyster, and fortified cereals such as oats, soy milk fortified with vitamin D and orange juice fortified with 25% of vitamin D.
Take away: Vitamin D helps in Calcium absorption and hence it is healthy for your bones.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (2010) for vitamin D for is 400 IU
3. Folic Acid
Folic acid, a crucial B-complex vitamin is a must for all women who are pregnant or planning for a baby. The richness of folic acid aids in generating new tissues, while vitamin b-complex deficiency can cause anaemia, weakness, headache and increased levels of homocysteine in the blood that triggers heart diseases.
According to the dieticians, women must intake at least 400mg of folic acid every day.
Fresh leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, strawberry, beans, green peas, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, Sunflower seeds, flax seeds and peanuts are packed with folic acid. Other sources are olive oil, citrus and nuts.
Take away: Folic acid helps in building new tissues and is essential for pregnancy.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (2010) for folic acid is 200 μg
4. Vitamin B12
Lack of Vitamin B12 in women have shown adverse signs including rapid ageing process, poor memory, fatigue, depression and dementia.
It keeps the central nervous system functional and vigilant.
Studies have shown that women above 50 with the onset of postmenstrual and B12 deficiency have a higher risk of becoming anaemic.
The average intake of Vitamin B12 for an adult woman should be around 2.4 mg. If the deficiency of Vitamin B12 remains undetected for a very long time, it can bring severe neurological damages. Don’t believe it? See it for yourself.
This nutrient is richly found in eggs, meat, fish, milk, poultry fortified cereals, soy products, and cheese etc.
Take away: Vitamin B12 improves the central nervous system and protects from rapid ageing.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (2010) for vitamin B12 is 1μg
5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acid is one the rarest form of polyunsaturated fats. It is highly essential for a healthy heart, majorly among women. It helps to lower the blood pressure and prevents the growth of plaque build-up in the arteries.
According to research, Omega-3 fatty acids can effectively harness good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol.
Fatty fish like salmon, codfish or tilapia are good sources of Omega 3. Other sources like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, olive oil, tofu, brussel sprouts, mung beans, and cruciferous vegetables can also fill you with omega 3.
Take away: Consuming omega 3 in essential for a healthy heart as it regulates the cholesterol level.
Recommended Dietary Allowance for omega – 3 fatty acid is 1g/ day