Women have different nutritional needs than men, because they are at a higher risk of developing nutrition-related health problems such as heart diseases, obesity and osteoporosis. Also, they need nutritional support during their reproductive cycle because of hormonal fluctuations.
Let’s discuss some of the essential vitamins that promote health and how, with the intake of vitamin-rich food items, women can get more key nutrients important for their wellness.
1. Vitamin A:-
Vitamin A improves vision, immune system and embryonic and foetal growth. It is also an essential vitamin that helps in the production of white blood cells. Sources of Vitamin A include carrot, spinach, apricot, guava and pumpkin.
2. Vitamin B:-
Vitamin B is a group of water-soluble vitamins that help the body get energy from the nutrients.
Three of the major B vitamins are:
a. B12(cobalamin): Deficiency of B12 can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, which makes people tired and weak. It helps in red blood cell formation and keeps nerves healthy. Low B12 can cause women’s Folate levels to drop. It’s been found that women, who suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency in early pregnancy, have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects. (Source:https://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20090302/birth-defects-linked-to-low-vitamin-b12#1)
High-protein-rich foods, such as eggs, salmon, tuna, meat, cheese, milk and yoghurt, are rich sources of B12.
b. Folate: It is an important B vitamin for all women of childbearing age. Women, who are planning to conceive, or are in their first trimester, should consume Folate-rich food to reduce the chances of spinal cord defects in their children. Leafy green vegetables, oranges, fortified grains, tomatoes, chickpeas, black and kidney beans and eggs are the best sources of Folate. (Source:https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/essential-vitamins-for-women-at-every-age)
c. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Women suffer from more migraine attacks than men (Source:https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423085434.htm) and one of the vitamins that can prevent migraine attacks is Vitamin B2. (Source:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15257686)
Foods rich in Vitamin B2 include milk, mushrooms, spinach, eggs, nuts and enriched flour.
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3. Vitamin C:-
Vitamin C, apart from boosting the immune system, helps in increasing the level of progesterone, which is involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and embryogenesis (Source:https://sites.google.com/site/miscarriageresearch/hormones-and-miscarriage/progesterone-research/how-to-increase-progesterone). It also helps in collagen synthesis(Collagen is an important tissue for breast and bone health). Vitamin C is found in different fruits and vegetables, including oranges, limes, lemons, berries, kiwifruit, mangoes, grapes, tomatoes, broccoli and sprouts.
4. Vitamin D:-
Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, is essential for bone strength and calcium absorption. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. (Source:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12737713)
Your body makes Vitamin D only when your bare skin is exposed to direct sunlight. You can take short walks every morning or after lunch. On weekends, you can visit parks and zoos or go trekking or hiking with your friends. Foods rich in Vitamin D include milk, salmon, sardines, soy beverage, and eggs.
5. Vitamin K:-
There are 2 forms of Vitamin K: Vitamin K-1 and Vitamin K-2. K-1 is found in leafy vegetables such as spinach and K-2 is created in the intestinal tract naturally.
Vitamin K promotes blood coagulation and prevents excessive bleeding. Eating food items rich in Vitamin K, such as green and romaine lettuce, spinach and parsley, and vegetables such as broccoli, and cabbage, can stop heavy menstrual bleeding. (Source: https://www.livestrong.com/article/524053-all-natural-fruits-vitamins-for-heavy-menstrual-bleeding/)
Also, when it comes to bone health, a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9925126) found that women who consumed a higher amount of vitamin K had a significantly lower rate of hip fractures compared to women with low Vitamin K intake. According to the study, increased lettuce consumption was associated with fewer hip fractures.
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