Women And Nutrition

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Women And Nutrition Essay

pressure contribute to the poor health status of adolescents living in rural and urban slums. The nutritional and health status of women, both in adolescence and the pregnancy stage, as well as during pregnancy are important indicators of complications during pregnancy, childbirth and thereafter, as well as of peri-and neo-natal mortality and low weight. Although poor distribution of resources-whether due to harsh geographical or climate condition in a region, or due to poverty resulting from a lack of purchasing power-contributes greatly to the severe imbalance of diets, tabools placed on food for religious or cultural reasons are an unnecessary practice, which exacerbates the situation. The reasons for these taboos are many, but all are steeped in superstition.Women And Nutrition Essay Many taboos are upheld because it is believed that the consumption of a particular animal or plant will bring harm to the individual. Permanent taboos are also placed on female members of most communities. From infancy, the female child is given a low-nutrition diet. She is wanted at a much earlier age than the male infant, and throughout her life she will be deprived of high-protein foods such as animal meat, eggs, fish and milk, the intake of nutrients by the female population is lower than that of the male population. Temporary taboos, which are applicable only at certain times in the life of an individual, also affect women disproportionately. Most communities have food taboos especially for pregnant women.Women And Nutrition Essay


Women’s nutritional needs change during menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. A woman’s reproductive life means that her nutritional needs differ greatly from those of a man.

With the popularity of crash dieting in Australia, nutritional deficiencies are common, especially among young women. Good nutrition means eating a wide variety of foods every day, which isn’t possible on a restrictive diet.

Nutrition and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

The interplay of hormones throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle affects her body and state of mind. Energy intakes are generally higher in the premenstrual phase and some women also have food cravings as their period approaches.

Eating high-protein foods every few hours can often temper or stop food cravings. This should not be done at the expense of other food groups, especially carbohydrates, which should form the basis of the diet.Women And Nutrition Essay

Fluid retention is common in the days leading up to a woman’s period because certain hormones encourage the body to hold salt (sodium). The more sodium the body holds, the more fluid is retained in the tissues.

Other common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) include moodiness, tiredness and constipation. Taking B-group vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, may help, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Light to moderate exercise, such as a 30-minute brisk walk each day, has also been shown to noticeably reduce symptoms of PMS.

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Iron and anaemia

Iron is a mineral that works with other substances to create haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood. Women and men metabolise iron from food at roughly the same rate. However, while men need around 8 mg of iron in their daily diet, women need up to 18 mg (or 27 mg if pregnant).

Women need more iron than men to make up for the amount of iron they lose in their menstrual period. Around 1 mg of iron is lost for every day of bleeding.Women And Nutrition Essay

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in women. Insufficient iron can lead to anaemia. Common symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and breathlessness. Iron is especially important during pregnancy.

Sources of iron

Good dietary iron sources include:
Red meat, chicken and fish
Fortified cereals
Legumes and nuts
Leafy green vegetables.

Iron absorption can be impaired by very high-fibre diets, alcohol, the tannic acid in tea and concentrated sources of calcium (for example, calcium supplements).

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Vitamins, minerals and pregnancy

Eating healthily during pregnancy is important to meet the nutritional needs of the developing baby and for the mother’s own wellbeing. However, this doesn’t mean ‘eating for two’ – it is the quality of the diet that is important, not the quantity of food eaten.Women And Nutrition Essay

Eating a variety of foods from each of the key food groups is generally enough to meet both mother and baby’s requirements. Special attention should be given to calcium, folic acid (folate), iron, zinc. Iodine and vitamin C.


Although a developing baby needs a lot of calcium, physiological changes during pregnancy help to protect the mother’s bones, so there is no need for extra dietary calcium during pregnancy. However, it is important to include at least two to three serves of dairy products or equivalent high-calcium foods every day.

Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt and fish with edible bones (for example, salmon and sardines).Women And Nutrition Essay

Folic acid (folate)

Extra folic acid is needed for the development and growth of new cells. Research suggests that insufficient folic acid at the time of conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of neural tube defects in the unborn baby.

Folate is present in a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as legumes, nuts, yeast extracts such as Vegemite, and fortified foods such as bread and some breakfast cereals.


Iron requirements increase significantly during pregnancy as maternal blood volume increases and the baby’s blood system is developing. Iron deficiency in pregnant women increases the risk of having a preterm or low birth weight baby, which can have a negative impact on the short and long-term health of the baby.Women And Nutrition Essay

The best source of iron is red meat, with smaller amounts in chicken and fish. Iron is also present in plant foods such as legumes, nuts, wholegrain breads and cereals, and green leafy vegetables, but it is not absorbed as well from these foods.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin C alongside iron-rich foods can improve iron absorption. Iron supplements are frequently prescribed for pregnant women if they are unable to meet their requirements through food alone.


This nutrient is needed to maintain the health of cells. Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so women taking iron supplements should continue to eat iron-rich foods, which are also a good source of zinc.


Iodine is needed for normal mental development of the baby, but it can be difficult to get enough from food. Ways of increasing iodine intake include using iodised salt, eating fish and seafood weekly (see your health professional for advice about safe types and amounts of fish), or using a multivitamin supplement that contains iodine and is safe for pregnancy.Women And Nutrition Essay

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for normal gum, tooth, bone and body tissue formation. One of the best sources of Vitamin C is oranges, but it is also found in other fruits, particularly papaya and strawberries, and a variety of vegetables, including red capsicum and broccoli.

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Nutrition during breastfeeding

A healthy diet is important during breastfeeding because the mother must provide for her own nutrient requirements, as well as for the production of breastmilk. Particular attention needs to be paid to protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and fluids.Women And Nutrition Essay

The best advice is to eat a variety of foods from each of the key food groups each day. The amount of extra food will vary according to appetite needs and weight loss. Aim to lose weight gradually until you have reached your pre-pregnant weight.

Women who were anaemic during pregnancy should pay special attention to iron-rich foods as they will need to replace their iron stores. It may be necessary to continue taking iron supplements – be advised by your doctor.

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Calcium and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disorder characterised by thinning of the bones until they are weak and easily fracture or break. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, particularly after menopause, because oestrogen levels are reduced.Women And Nutrition Essay

Many factors are involved in the development of osteoporosis, including:
Low calcium intake during the growing years increases susceptibility to osteoporosis later in life. Bone strength in later life depends on the development of bones earlier in life. Adequate calcium intake during youth is essential to achieve peak bone mass
Salt, caffeine and alcohol intake may interfere with the balance of calcium in the body by affecting the absorption of calcium and increasing the amount lost in the urine. Moderate alcohol intake (one to two standard drinks per day) and moderate tea, coffee and caffeine-containing drinks (no more than six cups per day) are recommended. Avoid adding salt at the table and in cooking
Exercise, or the lack of it, can affect the development of osteoporosis
Maintaining a low body weight (body mass index (BMI) less than 18) has been associated with the development of osteoporosis.Women And Nutrition Essay

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Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and is required for normal bone metabolism. The main source of vitamin D for most people is sunshine.

Women who have very low levels of sunlight exposure or have naturally very dark skin are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Those affected may include women who cover most of their body when outdoors, shift workers, those who are unable to regularly get out of their house or women in residential care. Women who have certain medical conditions or are on some medications may also be affected.

It is important to balance the need to maintain adequate vitamin D levels with the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure. A sensible balance of sun protection and exposure can ensure that women are not at risk of vitamin D deficiency.Women And Nutrition Essay

Good dietary sources of vitamin D are margarine, eggs and oily fish (such as mackerel and sardines).

Good sources of calcium include dairy foods, calcium-fortified soymilk and fish with edible bones. For women who can’t eat these foods, calcium supplements may be desirable.

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Phytoestrogens have been linked to a range of health benefits, especially for women. They are natural substances found in certain plant foods including:
Whole grains, including cracked wheat and barley
Flaxseed (linseed)
Sesame seeds
Nuts, including almonds
Legumes, especially soy and chickpeas
Alfalfa sprouts
Herb teas, especially sage and aniseed
Extra virgin olive oil.

Phytoestrogens are natural oestrogen-like substances. Oestrogen is a hormone that is necessary for optimal health.Women And Nutrition Essay

There is a link between oestrogen levels and the development of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. At present, there is no evidence that increasing the intake of phytoestrogen will prevent heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.


Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy Adequate nutrition is essential to sustaining life throughout the life span. It is especially important for women to maintain adequate caloric intake with healthful nutrition during the months of pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is an increased need for vitamins and minerals such as: folic acid and iron as well as adequate intake of fruits and vegetables. In addition to eating a well balanced diet, it is also important for women to take prenatal vitamins to ensure sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals vital for the healthy development of the fetus. M.C. is a 25-year-old female who is in her 1st trimester of pregnancy (12 weeks). She is a moderately active young adult and states that she attends yoga class three times a week as well as running three times a week. She has a very good understanding of the changing needs of her diet now that she is with child. She began taking Rainbow Light organic prenatal multi-vitamin upon the news of her pregnancy. Based her gestational age as well as her pre-pregnancy weight, her caloric was determined to be at 2,200 calories (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2014a). Her 24-hour dietary recall is as follows: Breakfast included: ½ cup granola, 1 medium banana (3/4 cup), 8 oz. fruit smoothie (1 cup), ½ cup soy milk, ½ raspberries, and 1 bottle of water (16.9 oz.); Lunch included: 4 oz. grilled chicken breast, 2 cups mixed green salad (1 cup), 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 1 bottle of water (16.9 oz.); Dinner included: ½ cup portabella mushroom (3/4 cup) , ½ cup avocado, ¼ cup tomato, ¼ cucumber, 1 cup mixed greens (1/2 cup), 1 slice cheddar cheese (3/4 cup), 1 medium fillet of baked salmon (9 /12 oz.), and. 1 bottle water (16.9 oz.); Snacks included: 2 unsalted rice cakes, 1 ½ tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 oz. tortilla chips, 1 medium banana (3/4 cup), 8 oz. of herbal tea, and 1 bottle of water (16.9 oz.).Women And Nutrition Essay
While women who are pregnant increase their caloric intake to accommodate for the developing fetus, this increase should only be around 300-calorie/day (Ricci, 2013). M.C.’s total caloric intake for the day was 2,008 calories, which was within the parameters of her recommended 2,200 calories. However, her intake of the various food groups was not as balanced as it should be. Her grain and dairy intake were the two areas lacking. During the 24-hour time frame she consumed only 3 oz. of grain compared to the recommended 7 oz. M.C.’s dairy intake was about half of the recommended amount of 3 cups. Her protein and fruit intake however, were over the recommended amounts. Her fruit intake was at 3 ¼ cups compared to 2 cups and her protein intake was 16 oz. compared to the recommended 6 oz. The only area that met the target serving was the vegetable category, which amounted to 3 cups comparable to the 3¼ cup recommended for the daily intake. Additionally, she consumed a sufficient amount of water and stated that she is diligent in taking her prenatal vitamins daily.Women And Nutrition Essay

Malnutrition, defined as ill health caused by deficiencies of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals interacting with infections and other poor health and social conditions, saps the strength and well-being of millions of women and adolescent girls around the world. [In this brief, the term malnutrition will refer to conditions of nutritional deficiency, including undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, though malnutrition actually also relates to problems of nutritional excess.]

Although malnutrition’s effects on this group have been recognized for decades, there has been little measurable progress in addressing the specific nutritional problems of women and adolescent girls. Ignorance about the symptoms of malnutrition, such as the lethargy and depression caused by iron deficiency, may be dismissed as “normal” or unimportant, further exacerbating the problem.Women And Nutrition Essay

Everyone knows that a healthy pregnancy requires special care. A healthy diet accompanied by moderate exercise is very important as it will cause the fetus has a great development and thus a pregnancy will be much better, but staying healthy during pregnancy depends on you, so it’s crucial to arm yourself with information about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible. A healthy diet is very important because the deficiency of some nutrients can cause various adverse effects for both, mother and the fetus. It is know that the mother and the baby compete for the same nutrients and calories, and for this reason it is necessary that mothers have a balanced diet of nutrients for you and your baby. Most nutritional and metabolic needs can be met by eating a balanced daily diet containing approximately 35 kcal for each kilogram of optimal body weight plus an additional 300 kcal/day during the second and third trimesters. An inadequate diet can cause impaired growth of the fetus and it may be born too small and even underweight. Thus to be nourished properly makes the pregnant woman has a healthy life and to develop less risk of suffering premature deliveries, giving birth to more babies healthy. In addition some changes that occur during the pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, hemorrhoids, heartburn and swelling can also be minimized with a proper diet Women And Nutrition Essay

Adequate nutrition, a fundamental cornerstone of any individual’s health, is especially critical for women because inadequate nutrition wreaks havoc not only on women’s own health but also on the health of their children. Children of malnourished women are more likely to face cognitive impairments, short stature, lower resistance to infections, and a higher risk of disease and death throughout their lives (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
Poor Nutrition Throughout the Life Cycle

Source: Adapted from the ACC/SCN-appointed Commission on the Nutrition Challenges of the 21st Century.

Malnutrition poses a variety of threats to women. It weakens women’s ability to survive childbirth, makes them more susceptible to infections, and leaves them with fewer reserves to recover from illness. HIV-infected mothers who are malnourished may be more likely to transmit the virus to their infants and to experience a more rapid transition from HIV to full-blown AIDS. Malnutrition undermines women’s productivity, capacity to generate income, and ability to care for their families.Women And Nutrition Essay

Addressing women’s malnutrition has a range of positive effects because healthy women can fulfill their multiple roles — generating income, ensuring their families’ nutrition, and having healthy children — more effectively and thereby help advance countries’ socioeconomic development. Women are often responsible for producing and preparing food for the household, so their knowledge — or lack thereof — about nutrition can affect the health and nutritional status of the entire family. Promoting greater gender equality, including increasing women’s control over resources and their ability to make decisions, is crucial. Improving women’s nutrition can also help nations achieve three of the Millennium Development Goals, which are commonly accepted as a framework for measuring development progress (see Table 1). This brief discusses the importance of improving women’s nutrition and suggests policy options for achieving positive change. Women And Nutrition Essay