Micro-nutrients; including vitamins and minerals, are vital for women’s health not only during age of adolescence, childbearing, pregnancy and lactation, but they are also significant for ageing. With a small to moderate range of benefits these micro-nutrients reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases, mental health, diabetes and cancer. These include Vitamin A, D and Vitamin E, Ascorbic Acid, Pantothenic acid, B Complexes, phosphate, zinc and Carotene etc.
Women thus need to concentrate on the quality of their diet and make careful selection of food. It is suggested to increase the intakes of important food groups such as dairy, vegetable, and fruit that are proper sources of micro-nutrients. It is to remember that refined foods, sweetened beverages and pastries consumption have been associated with increased risk of depression. Monounsaturated fats are associated with more favourable cognitive trajectories as compared to consumption of saturated fats usually found in Mediterranean diet. Similarly dietary fat reduction lowers breast cancer incidence in women above 45 years.
However, food based utilisation in underdeveloped countries are still not found to be adequate to obtain required amount of these micro-nutrients in most of the female population worldwide. Due to which they consume nutritional supplements to overcome deficiencies of the same. Although preliminary findings from limited research studies suggest encouraging use, more profound studies are recommended to figure out long term benefits of these supplements. It is advised that health care provider consultation is taken prior use of any of these supplements. In this regard women must realise basic micro-nutrients and their role to overcome deficiency and prevention of chronic diseases.
Risk of fracture and bone loss is reduced with combined use of calcium and vitamin D, in low intakes population.The RDA value however varies in different age groups of women and during lactation.The amount of calcium needed have always been controversial due to various factors associated with its absorption and required calcium balance in women with increasing age however, RDA for calcium is 1,000 mg/day in women above 55 years. Adequate intake of folic acid, iron, calcium and iodine is necessary for pregnant females. Vitamin A or β-carotene is described to lessen maternal mortality rate. Compromised maternal folate intake or status is associated with several negative pregnancy outcomes including low birth weight and other complications associated with fetus development. Food and Drug Administration of USA recommends 600 μg/d of folate intake during pregnancy. Maternal iodine deficiency that could be prevented by iodine supplementation with RDA intake of 220 μg/d during pregnancy.
Therefore, improvement of diet quality is essential with focus on the diet all together to ensure adequacy of micro-nutrients, in comparison regular and individual consumption of vitamins or minerals.