Sunday 24th December, 2006

 

What women need

 
 
 
 
 
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Ingrid Seegobin

Certified Nutritional Practitioner

Despite what others may think, women have special needs. For starters, they need to love and be loved, to create and to express their feelings. Every woman is a special gem that shines in her own specific way. Women also have special nutritional needs.

During their menstruating years, the need to replace lost red blood cells is very high. Women also need adequate amounts of other nutrients such as B vitamins, iodine, calcium, and magnesium. Their needs even tend, at times, to go beyond the recommended daily allowances.

Weighty issues

One of the major concerns for women is that their food intake may be inadequate. Physical activity levels may also be low, and often, there is low calorie intake related to dieting in order to stay slim. This may lead to insufficient nutrient intake and therefore, may not meet nutritional requirements. Women who are very active may also eat lightly to keep their weight in check and this too, can lead to deficiencies.

Some women gain weight very easily and have a difficult time losing it. Low-calorie diets, however, are not a long-term solution. Increased activity levels, with a balanced, moderate caloric intake of vegetables and lean protein may help in reducing weight.

It is important to note however, that the focus should not only be on weight, but also on fat percentage. Excess fat is the main culprit that puts us at high risk for disease. It is always a good idea to have a body composition analysis done, which determines the levels of fat in the body.

Checking the thyroid hormone levels, assessing the caloric intake/utilisation relationship to weight, energy maintenance, activity levels, and integrating them into daily life will be helpful. Multivitamins, particularly B vitamins, such as B6, B12, plus potassium, calcium and magnesium are also helpful. It is suggested that a more naturally derived product be used, so that the body can better utilise the nutrients — synthetics are not as readily used by the body.

Sexual vitality

Sexual vitality is also very important to women. A number of nutrients are important in supporting the sexual organs, sexual functions, and a normal menstrual cycle.

Adrenal support and function are very important for women as well as for men. The adrenal gland helps us to deal with stress and also gives us sexual energy. Stress, allergies and high amounts of sugar intake can weaken these important glands and this may be exacerbated by nutritional deficiency. The adrenals need adequate levels of vitamins A, C and E, essential fatty acids and B vitamins, particularly panthothenic acid (B5). Chromium and adequate levels of amino acids will also help to reduce sugar cravings and thus help support the adrenals.

Most women do best on a low to moderate calorie diet which includes sufficient protein and vegetables, some whole grains and a few fruits.

Milk products are tolerated by some, but they can cause weight increase. Some low fat or non-fat milks and plain yogurt may be better options for the weight conscious.

Daily exercise

Women also need to exercise and stay fit. Women’s nutritional needs differ from those of men. They need fewer calories, but only slightly less protein and the same amount — or more — of essential nutrients. Women need a nourishing diet of high-quality foods. They require more iron — almost double what men require. Female vegetarians should focus more on getting adequate iron in their diet. Women need a little less magnesium than men, but sometimes require more calcium/magnesium, especially after exercising. An average of 1,500 to 2,500 calories should be consumed. This should come from a diet rich in whole foods and fibre.

As tedious as it may seem, once you begin to make healthier food choices, eat smaller servings and exercise daily for a minimum of 30 minutes, you will not only feel the difference, but you — and others too — will notice!

(This article is not meant to prescribe or diagnose. It is solely for information purposes).

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