Nutritional requirements of women differ from men. A woman requires more nutrients during pregnancy and menstrual period. Thus, it is important to understand the requirements of nutritional foods at all stage. Here is a discussion on dietary requirements of a woman:
Vitamin A – It is necessary for the maintenance of vision and prevention of many eye diseases. The requirement is increased one and half times during lactation. Above the age of six years the requirement of vitamin A is equal to that required by adults.
Vitamin A is found in all green leafy vegetables, apricot, papaya, mango, orange, raspberry, capsicum, carrot, green beans, milk and milk products, eggs, etc. if you are taking oral pills for contraception you should not take high dose supplements of this vitamin because the levels of vitamin A are increased with pill use due to the effects of the hormone in the pills. Excess of vitamin A is toxic, particularly for the liver.
Vitamin B6 – Women on oral pills or pregnant or lactating women often experience deficiency of vitamin B6. Children above seven years too need equal amounts of this vitamin. This should be supplemented through pulses, soybean, whole wheat, dry apricot, nuts, cashew nuts, groundnuts, bananas, cabbage, spinach, potatoes, milk and milk products etc.
Vitamin C – It is required in double amounts during lactation i.e. 80 mg per day. Children above one year require the normal dose of this vitamin i.e. 40 mg per day. Vitamin C is present in all citrus fruits. It is also present in capsicum, tomato, drumsticks, all leafy vegetables and pulses, raspberry, banana, red cherry, tomato, papaya, dry coconut, pineapple, mango, dry garlic, coriander leaves, cabbage, turnip, bitter gourd, cauliflower, sweet potato, lady’s finger. Women taking oral contraceptives have to take extra amounts of vitamin C because the hormones of the oral contraceptive increase the rate of vitamin C breakdown.
Iron – A women’s daily iron requirement is almost double that of a man due to menstrual cycles and blood loss. Along with iron deficiency hemoglobin is also lowered. As a result, sufficient oxygen does not reach the cells and result is weakness, lethargy and inability to work. Women feel fatigue earlier than others. If the condition persists it may lead to shortness of breath. It is important to have a diet rich in iron such as whole grain cereals, whole pulses, leafy vegetables, dried fruits and eggs. Iron deficiency is aggravated in pregnancy.
Calcium – It is required for building and maintaining healthy bones. Normally 400 mg per day is required both for men and women. The need for calcium in women increases at many stages. Women using birth control pills are benefited in two ways, as the pill seems to increase the intestinal absorption of calcium and decreases its removal from bones.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to provide health advice and is for general information only. Always seek the insights of a qualified health professional before embarking on any health program.
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