Some women also experience food cravings as their period approaches. Some research indicates that increasing the intake of calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products and leafy green vegetables, can ease fluid retention.
• Cereal foods (preferably wholegrain)
Women and men metabolise iron from food at roughly the same rate. However, while men need around 7mg of iron in their daily diet, women need up to 16mg. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency that affects women. The most common deficiencies in pregnant women include:
• Calcium – calcium absorption more than doubles during pregnancy, and the mother stores most of this in her bones. Increasing calcium intake during pregnancy helps to conserve the mother’s bone mass, while meeting the needs of the foetus.
• Folic acid – the recommended daily intake (RDI) for folic acid doubles during pregnancy.
• Iron – although iron absorption increases during pregnancy, blood volume increases as well. Iron-rich foods include liver, red meat, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables.
Taking iron supplements may interfere with the absorption of zinc, so women taking iron supplements may also need zinc supplements. Foods high in zinc include meat, liver, eggs and seafood. Poor calcium intake early in life is also linked to deficiencies of vitamin D, calcium and possibly fluoride.
• Animal protein, eaten in large amounts, also increases urinary calcium loss – a major contributor to calcium balance. Vitamin D and calcium
Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and is required for normal bone metabolism. Good sources of calcium include dairy foods, calcium-fortified soymilk and sesame seeds. However, for the women who cannot consume these foods, calcium supplements may be desirable.
• Iron and calcium deficiencies are common in women.
• Vitamin B6 can help ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.