Make healthy eating your everyday lifestyle. Proclamation No. 227 s. 1998 designates March as National Women’s Month. As we celebrate the essence of womanhood, let’s focus on the significance of nutrition on women’s health and how they can attain optimal nutrition. According to the National Nutrition Council (NCC), women’s nutritional needs may vary in each stage of their lives (puberty/menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause). Here’s a list of important nutrients in women’s diets.
From puberty through menopause, women require more iron in their diets than men do. During puberty, their iron requirements increase to make up for blood loss during menstruation. Throughout women’s childbearing years, they need as much as three times more the amount of iron than men to prevent anemia and complications during childbirth.
Women can load up on iron-rich food sources such as lean meats, leafy green vegetables, seafood, nuts, and beans. NNC recommends eating vitamin C-rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, papaya, and a variety of vegetables to increase the absorption of iron in the body.
Calcium is crucial in a person’s bone health throughout life. Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis (a health condition linked to weakened bones) as they get older compared to men. This is why women need to increase their calcium intake as they age. Vitamin D is also essential to aid in the proper metabolism of calcium in the body. A few examples of calcium-rich foods that women are recommended to consume are milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, leafy greens, sardines, and other calcium-fortified foods and drinks.
Folate is also important for women’s health, especially during pregnancy because it promotes the growth and development of new cells in the body. According to NCC, women who lack folate during pregnancy may be at risk of neural tube defects in babies. That’s why expectant mothers need enough folate, combined with iron. A variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, and legumes are good sources of folate. There are also folate-fortified foods such as cereals and bread.
Just like iron and folate, expectant mothers need iodine because it promotes the normal mental development of the baby. This trace mineral is usually found in seafood such as fish, shrimps, seaweed, and oysters. Women can also get iodine by eating dairy products, eggs, and grains. Using iodized salt in meals will also help increase their iodine intake.
The food choices that women make have a significant impact on their health. For optimal nutrition, women should eat a well-balanced diet and make sure they include foods that are high in iron, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, folate, and iodine. Medicare Plus encourages Filipino women to make better nutritional choices by fueling their bodies with foods rich in important vitamins and minerals.