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Nutrients play an important role in maintaining one's health, it's really crucial that one follows a healthy lifestyle and consumes a balanced diet. Considering the life cycle of women, the biological changes their bodies go through at different stages of life demand for the intake of different nutrients in abundance to make sure that they don't face any health-related issues.
Nutrients needed by women during childhood and teenage:
When girls move to their teen years, they undergo various physical and biological changes which include attaining their puberty. We should make sure growing girls include all kinds of fruits and veggies in their diet.
Here are the nutrients that girls belonging to this age group should include:
Lean protein sources
Proteins are defined as the body's building blocks. These aid in improving one's energy levels as well as heart health. Some foods which are known to be great source of lean proteins are:
- White meat poultry
- Yogurt, milk, cheese and low-fat dairy products
- Whole grains
- Lean beef
Iron aids in carrying oxygen through our body from the lungs. Lack of iron leads to anaemia and women specifically lose iron every month after the onset of their menstruation. Statistics by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reveal that iron deficiency is a very common phenomenon among women and around 10% of women in the US suffer from it. As per experts, 8 mg of iron should be consumed per day by girls before they start menstruating and around 15 mg after the onset of menstruation. Here are some foods that are rich in iron:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
Calcium is required for maintaining the bone health in the body. This mineral plays a crucial role in blood clotting, cell signalling and even for maintaining a regular heartbeat. According to experts, girls belonging to 9 to 19 years of age are recommended to have around 1,300 mg of calcium daily. They should also consume 600 IU (International Units) or 15 mcg of vitamin D for better calcium absorption. Include the following foods in your diet:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whey proteins
- Poppy, sesame & chia seeds
- Canned salmon & sardines
Nutrients required by women during adulthood and pregnancy:
When women attain adulthood and plan to become pregnant, there are certain nutrients they need to have in good amounts to make sure that they remain healthy and also give birth to a well-nourished, healthy young baby.
Here's a list of nutrients adult women planning pregnancy should consume:
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are known to be great for heart as they keep heart ailments away. This is also known to reduce the risks of pre-term births which is linked to numerous health issues in the future like respiratory diseases, chronic lung, ailments, etc. As per health experts, a daily intake of 0.6 to 0.8 mg of omega-3 fatty acids is suggested. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Oily fishes like mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, etc.
- Seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds
Women in their childbearing age should include up to 400 mcg of folic acid in their diet every day, this aids in keeping birth defects at bay. It also aids in the development of the baby's brain and spinal cord. Dark green veggies and citrus fruits are a good source of this nutrient. Some good sources of folic acid are:
- Beef liver
- Breakfast cereals
Around 18 mg of iron should be consumed by adult women per day who belong to the age group of 19 to 50 years. Pregnant women should consume 27 mg of this nutrient, whereas lactating mothers and women who stop breastfeeding should switch to 9 mg and 18 mg respectively. Iron requirement for breastfeeding mothers is way too less as they don't menstruate during that period.
Nutrients required by women post menopause:
After a certain age, women attain menopause and their body's iron requirement depletes as their menstrual cycle comes to a halt, but the changes taking place in their bodies trigger the requirement of various nutrients like:
Due to ageing, the ability of women's body to absorb various important vitamins and nutrients deteriorates. This arises the need for elderly women to consume supplements and food like:
- Fish like sardines, salmon and tuna
- Animal liver and kidneys
- Fortified non-dairy milk
- Fortified cereals
- Dairy products like milk and cheese
Calcium: Aging results in calcium depletion in the woman's body. To combat this condition women should make sure they have calcium-rich foods along with vitamin D for better absorption. Senior women are recommended to include 1200 mg of calcium in their diet along with 15 mcg of vitamin D.
Fluids: Women with menopause are advised to consume more fluids like water and other beverages as their kidneys' ability to remove toxins deplete with time. If they find the colour of their urine to be too dark they should start consuming more water and other beverages.
NOTE: Please consult a doctor before consuming these nutrients to stay at the safer end and avoid complications.