As a woman you experience several changes with passing years both physically and mentally. Consequently, you have to be extra cautious about your nutritional demands particularly vitamins and minerals. Proper balanced diet and exercise are two of the key health keepers. But how long can you honestly stick to a well balanced diet? A family wedding or a holiday with friends is enough to challenge your health resolutions. So, how can you keep your nutrient intake in check? The answer is- Vitamin supplements. A vitamin supplement is intended to provide vitamins that may not be consumed in enough quantities through diet alone. Although most health experts advocate for whole food as the best source for nutrients, multivitamin supplements become essential in situations where diet alone is unable to fend for the nutritional demand.
There are some essential vitamin supplements for women that can help to plug the nutritional void. Following are some vitamins that women should consume:
Vitamin A helps to maintain supple skin and healthy eyes. It is also needed for reproduction and breast-feeding. Green vegetables, fish and whole milk are some good sources of this vitamin. Daily requirement: 2300 IUs.
All the B vitamins help to maintain a healthy metabolism and sharp mind. Vitamin B6 is found to ease the symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome or PMS. But the most important vitamin for women among all the B vitamins is folic acid or Vitamin B9. Folic acid helps to keep red blood cells well and also ensure healthy babies in pregnant women. Falling short of this vitamin during pregnancy can lead to increased risk of major birth defects of brain and spine of the baby. Folic acid demand can be met by consuming ample of whole grains, beans, lentils, pea etc. But if you are pregnant your daily demand increases to 600 micrograms. Hence, you may need to take Folic acid supplements if doctor recommends. Daily requirement: 400 micrograms.
Go citrus crazy because this vitamin has many health benefits apart from acting as a stress buster. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which help to boost the immune system, prevent heart diseases and eye problems. Vitamin C also aids in the production of collagen which is a major structural protein and keeps wrinkles off your skin. Daily requirement: 75 milligrams.
This ‘sunshine vitamin’ is extremely important for healthy teeth and bones. It is synthesized in the body on exposure to sunlight. So, if you often shun the sun, think again! Vitamin D helps in absorption of calcium and phosphorus from your diet. Studies have revealed that this vitamin even helps to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Elderly people above 60 years are at higher risk of osteoporosis as they are unable to produce sufficient amount of Vitamin D. This may be either due to insufficient exposure to sunlight or lesser receptors in the skin for tapping the sunrays. Daily requirement: 1000-2000 IUs.
Apart from these vitamins, women also need to take care of the following minerals primarily:
Elderly women are prone to post menopausal osteoporosis due to a slump in estrogen levels. That means you need to take extra care of your bone health. Calcium aids in bone mineralization and is one mineral that is recommended to be taken as a supplement after menopause. So, fill up your milk glasses and yogurt cups to get stronger and healthier bones. Some plant products such as flaxseeds, legumes and nuts are also found to contain estrogen like compounds called phyto estrogens that help to maintain optimal health in women. Daily calcium requirement: 1000 micrograms.
Heavy menstruation? Don’t ignore your iron demand. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and weakened immune system. So, keep munching iron rich food such as banana, apples, spinach, red meat to maintain good levels of iron in your body. Doctors can recommend iron supplements if you are tested consistently low in hemoglobin levels. Daily Requirements: 18 micrograms.
Nutrition during Breast feeding:
Only a healthy mother can pass on good health to her child through breast feeding. Therefore, at this stage of motherhood, a woman needs to take care of her personal nutritional need as well as that required to produce the breast milk. The best way is to consume a nutritious diet enriched with the goodness of fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and its products, fish, eggs etc. Also there are certain drugs that can adversely affect or enter in the milk supply and consequently harm your baby. Thus, it is best to consult your doctor on this. He may also recommend certain dietary supplements if required.
A healthy mother fosters a healthy family. So, take care of your diet and age gracefully and healthily.