What affects Women’s Health?
In today’s lifestyle, it has been necessary to understand the importance of nutrition in women’s health management. If you are reading this article, then perhaps you are either already suffering from a nutritional deficiency or just wondering how to keep yourself fit and healthy. Whatever your reason is, it is very important to know how proper nutrition can help you remain healthy.
In today fast paced world, hectic lifestyle, improper eating habits and carelessness to one food intake takes a toll on women’s health which makes slow side effects in body. When you notice something is wrong, it is often too late.
Female body is made up of many delicate processes which require a fine balance to work efficiently. To maintain this balance, optimum nutrition is required along with physical exercise and mental wellbeing.
The following list indicates some of the most important nutritional requirement for women.
Women in different parts of the world have different dietary habits. Missing protein with intake below Recommended Daily Allowance is a serious health concern. Proteins are useful in making lean muscle mass, maintain healthy immune system, help keep check on weight and supports formation of good bone, nails, and hairs. How much protein you need is different for everyone, but research suggest a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight/day. This is minimum to support a normal healthy functioning of the body. Most common women health disorders associated with protein deficiency includes abnormal weight gain, hair fall, brittle nails, weak immune system, weakness and lethargy, reduced uterus health or failure of conception, reduced fetal growth etc. Eggs and Meat are good natural source of protein, but their intake should always be monitored to avoid overdose.
2. Folic Acid:
Folic Acid or Folate is perhaps one of the most important nutrient required for women’s health. Its importance is primarily increased during Reproductive years. Folic Acid is B vitamin and is water soluble. It means your body neither stores it nor can it make. Our body needs Folic Acid from outside. Folic Acid helps form red and white blood cells. It also helps produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information, maintain healthy ovary function, and reduce the chances of birth defects during pregnancy.
The Recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Folic Acid for females is 400 mcg/day. Folic Acid can be taken as nutritional supplements or from natural sources like green leafy vegetables, nuts, peas, and folic acid fortified breakfast cereals.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in women. This is due to many reasons but most important is the loss of iron during menstrual cycles. Failure to replenish the lost Iron gradually leads to anemia and other complications. Iron is the primary component of the Red Blood cells which carries oxygen to various parts of the body. Deficiency of Iron reduces body’s ability to transport oxygen efficiently. Low iron intake during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight and impaired cognitive or behavioral development in infants. Recommended Daily Allowance of Iron in females varies with age. From 14 to 50 years during active menstrual cycles, the RDA is 15-18 mg/day which increases to 27mg/day during pregnancy. However, do not overdo the iron intake as can also create problems.
4. Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is another important vitamin for women’s health. It affects many aspects as it is an important factor in prevention/treatment of some forms of cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, psoriasis, and psychiatric diseases. It is also important during pregnancy as its deficiency affects fetal bone density. The Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D is 600 IU/day. Vitamin D can be made by skin under direct sunlight and is also available fish, meat, and fortified foods.
5. Vitamin E:
This vitamin is essential for a healthy immune system. It also helps in repair and maintenance of skin. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that protects your body against the harmful effects of damaging molecules called free radicals. It is also recommended to include during pregnancy or fertility treatment to improve chances of pregnancy and fetal wellbeing. Although Vitamin E deficiency is very rare, females should include food sources that contain Vitamin E for improved body functioning. The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin E in females 14 years and up is 15mg/day.
This vitamin help regulates various important functions of the body. Magnesium is essential to maintain healthy blood pressure, make energy in body, helps build and repair body tissue. Its deficiency during pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia, poor fetal growth, and even infant mortality. The Recommend daily allowance for women is 300 mcg/day.
Probiotics are a collection of bacteria which are beneficial to women’s health. They reside in our gut and help us fight various harmful bacteria that we encounter each day. These beneficial bacteria help maintain healthy gut, treat diarrhoea, fight infections, mental wellbeing. In females, the healthy bacteria also help in maintain healthy vagina and maintains vaginal pH. Research also shows that healthy bacteria balance in female body not only help in fighting cervical cancer and speed up the recovery but also helps to prevent it. Women should consume natural products like yoghurt. Other artificial probiotic enhanced foods are also available in market.
Here it is important to understand that focusing solely on the above nutrients cannot make you healthy. The nutrition is only a component of total efforts to keep you health. Properly lifestyle habits, enough sleep, less junk food, exercise and removal of stress is important for a holistic healthy women.