Women go through constant changes in their bodies throughout their lifetime. Their physiology is under the influence of various hormones that control body processes such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. All of these stages necessitate different nutritional strategies.
Hormones regulate most of the processed in our body and are themselves are influenced by a variety of factors such as nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins.
Often, these nutrients that are essential to our body do not get adequately absorbed into our bodies or need to be increased in their amounts at times for specific reasons. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a daily recommended intake (DRI) – a stipulated amount of nutrients to be taken every day that meets the requirements of a healthy body.
During pregnancy, a mother requires some vitamins and minerals in increased amounts and these can be administered in the form of prenatal vitamins. She also requires 400 micrograms a day of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements.
Also, due to age and approaching menopause, a condition arises in females which is known as osteoporosis. This condition is of two types, women often suffer from the one that arises due to calcium dissolution from their bones as their estrogen levels drop. This causes the bones to lose mass and strength.
Those who follow a strict vegetarian diet require additional Vitamin B12, and vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, who do not consume any dairy products might risk being deficient of Vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
Older women who may avoid sunlight can be deficient in Vitamin D.
Some indicators of deficiencies include fatigue, muscle pains, spasms or cramps, weakness, dizziness, poor night vision, headaches, etc.
To combat such deficiencies and prevent the eventual onset of unwanted conditions that typically arise from them, women need to obtain these nutrients in the form of supplements.
It is always recommended to confer with a professional before starting the consumption of any dietary supplements. It is also important to keep in mind that supplements are not intended to replace or substitute whole foods.
Be sure to ask about possible side effects and interactions with any such supplements.
Sometimes, combining prescription pills and supplements may yield an undesirable outcome.
Taking more than the DRI may cause toxicity and increase the risk of side effects.
Those who consume foods through a well-balanced diet that comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish, nuts and seeds usually don’t require supplements.
Calcium typically constitutes around 1% of a woman’s body weight. Calcium ions facilitate muscle contraction and are essential for regular cell functioning. The mineral can be found in dairy products and fortified foods. Women are four times more prone to osteoporosis than men, which is why premenopausal women must continue to obtain their required intake through supplements.
Dosage: Can vary anywhere from between 500-1,000 milligrams, depending upon factors such as age.
Fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, are a rich source of omega-3s, namely EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Due to reasons such as fear of heavy metal toxicity, a lot of women refrain from consuming seafood. This results in nutrient deficiency. Omega-3 fatty acids help in maintaining heart and blood vessel health along with the reduction of circulation of triglycerides which cause heart diseases.
Dosage: One gram each of EPA and DHA daily is an adequate amount for women. Those who have elevated triglyceride levels can consider taking 2-3 grams, under a physician’s guidance. Pregnant women often take 1 gram of DHA for the development of their baby’s brain.
Primary B Vitamins comprise B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin). These are water-soluble vitamins that get flushed out of the body with urine and thus need to be replaced daily. All adult women who exercise and burn calories have a higher requirement of these vitamins. Women older than 50 need these vitamins in the form of supplements as their bodies find it hard to directly absorb them from food.
Dosage: A multivitamin supplement, besides a well-balanced diet comprising of lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, should be enough to provide around 50 – 100% of the daily value of these B Vitamins.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, whose goodness is best derived when consumed with healthy fats. The vitamin helps us absorb calcium and plays a role in the development and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. A lot of women are not exposed adequately to sunlight for various reasons such as rashes, sunburn and skin tan. Vitamin D supplements containing calcitriol are recommended in such cases.
Dosage: Pre-menopausal women should take around 12.5 micrograms of this vitamin every day and post-menopausal and elderly women should increase their dosage to around 25 micrograms per day.
Bhookha Haathi products are naturally fortified with many of these vitamins and minerals. Bhookha Haathi’s Natural Dry Fruit Booster contains many vitamins such as A, E, C and additionally, aids in the absorption of the vitamin B complex. It is rich in dietary fiber, gluten-free and lowers bad cholesterol. It provides high amounts of energy and can be substituted for regular store-bought protein powders. Moreover, all the ingredients are locally sourced, organic and contain no harmful additives, preservatives or artificial colouring.
Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.