Nutrition Challenges Affecting Women
March is Nutrition Month and this year’s campaign is focused on the challenges women face with eating well, keeping physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking. Throughout March, this column will address nine key challenges to healthy living and offer strategies on how to overcome them. The first 4 strategies focus on specific nutrients that women should try to get in their diet.
Challenge #1: Eating Well
Solution: No special diet is required! Eating well means…
Challenge #2: Getting enough calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong bones and protect against Osteoporosis.
Solution: Women 19-50 years of age should consume 1000 mg of calcium and 5 ug (200 IU) of Vitamin D per day. Milk and milk products, such as cheese and yogurt provide the most readily available source of calcium and other bone building nutrients. Other sources include calcium-fortified beverages (soy, rice, and orange juice) tofu made with calcium sulfate, salmon and sardines with bones, sesame seeds, and almonds. Bok choy, kale and broccoli also provide calcium but in smaller amounts.
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Vitamin D is found in fluid milk, eggs, fish and fish liver oils, margarine as well as in soy and rice beverages fortified with Vitamin D. Sunlight on the skin can be a major source of Vitamin D but is limited in Canada from October to March and by use of sunscreens.
To prevent osteoporosis women are encouraged to get enough calcium, Vitamin D and protein, limit caffeine, have salt only in moderation, and keep active, particularly with weight bearing activity such as walking.
Challenge #3: Getting enough iron to help feel energetic and prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Solution: Women 19-50 years of age should aim for 18 mg of iron per day. For iron, choose red meats, clams, oysters, cooked dried beans, and lentils, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, soybeans and tofu. You can also get iron from other meats, fish, poultry, eggs, pasta, bread, oatmeal, oat and wheat bran, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, prunes and prune juice. Take note that the plant sources of iron are not as easily absorbed by the body as animal sources of iron. Try and eat a food high in vitamin C (like orange juice or strawberries) with your iron containing food – vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron.
Challenge #4: Getting enough fibre to promote a healthy digestive system and help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Solution: High fibre foods are generally lower in fat and may also help with weight control as they provide bulk to make you feel full. Women up to the age of 50 should aim for 25 grams of fibre per day. Check labels for foods containing more than 4 grams of fibre per serving to help you boost your intake.
Fibre-rich foods include dried cooked beans and lentils, green peas, papayas, pears with skin, mangoes, potatoes with skin, dried fruit, berries, nuts and seeds, whole grain breads and cereals.
Information adapted from the Dietitians of Canada 2003 Nutrition Month Campaign. For more information, please visit their website @ www.dietitians.ca.
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