Top 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Women
Health & Fitness

Top 5 Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Women

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“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”

| Brigham Young

This is 100% correct because it is a woman who bears a child in her womb and gives birth to a new life. But at present, the condition of a woman is not good. The average female life expectancy is low in comparison to a man. Because of the lack of acceptance from the male dominant society, women suffer immensely in many countries. Women are also overworked in the field and complete all of the domestic work. They are malnourished and in poor health. Malnutrition refers to conditions of nutritional deficiency, including undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

Women are more likely to suffer from nutritional deficiencies than men; reasons including women’s reproductive biology, low social status, poverty, and lack of education.

Here are the 5 most common nutrient deficiencies in a woman:

1.    Iron Deficiency and Anemia: Iron deficiency and anemia are the most common nutritional deficiency in a woman around the world. Women menstruate and lose blood at least once a month. The body uses the iron to produce hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to other tissues in the body via the bloodstream, and anemia is defined as having a hemoglobin level below a specific level. Women are especially susceptible to iron deficiency and anemia during pregnancy. Women and men metabolize 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) because they lose in their menstrual period. Around 1 mg of iron is lost for every day of bleeding.

Symptoms of Iron deficiency:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Reduce work capacity
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fast heartbeat or Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Brittle nails
  • Appetite loss
  • A swollen or sore tongue

Best source of Iron:

Heme iron (from animal sources)

Non-heme iron (from plants)

Chicken Liver

Raisin Bran

Oysters

Instant Oatmeal

Clams

Beans

Beef Liver

Tofu

Turkey Leg

Lentils

Tuna

Green Leafy Vegetables

Egg

Whole Wheat Bread

Shrimp

Peanut Butter

Leg of Lamb

Brown Rice

2.     Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiency: Calcium and vitamin D work together to protect your bones; calcium helps build and maintain bones, while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium. Calcium is very important for our body. This is also a common deficiency in a woman. Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis (loss of bone density) than men particularly after menopause because estrogen levels are reduced. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and is required for normal bone metabolism. The main source of vitamin D is sunshine. We don’t get as much sunshine as we think we do and vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in foods. Normally women up to 70 years old need 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D a day and up to 50 years of age, you need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day and after that, you need 1,200 mg of calcium a day.

Symptoms of Calcium and Vitamin D deficiency:

  • Bone density loss; risk of osteoporosis and fractures
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Frequent respiratory illnesses
  • Fatigue
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Dismal mood in the winter

Best source of Calcium:

  • Soy Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Tofu
  • Figs
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Fortified food
  • Leafy green vegetable
  • Salmon fish

3.   Deficiency of Iodine: Iodine deficiency also most common nutritional deficiency in a woman. Due to Iodine deficiency, our bodies don’t make enough thyroid hormones which helps to control our metabolism and body temperature. Iodine deficiency is especially dangerous for pregnant women and may cause intellectual disabilities in the fetus and more likely to miscarry. Normally we need about 150 micrograms (mcg) of iodine in our daily diets.

Symptoms of Iodine deficiency:

  • Unexpected Weight gain
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Trouble in Learning and Remembering
  • Heavy or irregular periods

Source of Iodine: 

  • Cheese
  • Cow milk
  • Eggs
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Iodine-containing multivitamins
  • Iodized table salt
  • Saltwater fish
  • Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
  • Shellfish
  • Soy milk
  • Soy sauce
  • Yogurt

4.    Deficiency of Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 deficiency means you are anemic. This vitamin is important for making red blood cells. These cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin B12 plays a role in everything from making DNA to regulating brain function. Vitamin B12 not made in our body just like iodine that’s why Vitamin B12 deficiency is common. Women ages 14 and above need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. This number goes up slightly to 2.6 mcg a day if pregnant. Eating vegetarian diets is also one of the reasons for deficiency of Vitamin B12.

Symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin B12: 

  • Pale Skin
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Swollen tongue
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low appetite
  • Memory Loss
  • Depression
  • Loss of Taste and Smell

Source of Vitamin B12: 

  • Beef liver, and chicken
  • Fish and shellfish such as trout, salmon, tuna fish, and clams
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Nutritional Yeast

5.   Deficiency of Magnesium: This is also one of the most common deficiencies in women. Magnesium helps promote energy, sleep, and blood sugar and hormone balance. Magnesium helps in brain, heart, and muscle function. It is also involved in the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Magnesium is also required for the formation of bones, muscle contractions, and blood pressure regulation. Normally women need around 300mg per day.

Symptoms of deficiency of Magnesium: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle contractions and cramps
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Migraine headaches
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cavities
  • Impotence

Source of Magnesium: 

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fruit (figs, avocado, banana, and raspberries)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Seafood (salmon, mackerel, tuna)
  • Whole grains (brown rice and oats)
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Tofu
  • Baked beans

Malnutrition in women affects not only a family or a community, but it also affects the entire country. Malnutrition reduces women’s ability to work; it means almost half of the country’s population not working with their full force than they face long-term problems like low birth weight, including high rates of cardiac disease and diabetes in adults. Research indicates that 60% of deaths of children under age 5 are associated with malnutrition and children’s malnutrition is strongly correlated with the mother’s poor nutritional status.

If you are concerned that you may have any of these nutrient deficiencies, immediate talk to your doctor. Do not start any supplements before consulting with your doctor.

Ravindra Nath Tagore said, “Women are the ornaments of society”. Then do take care of yourself.

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