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Nutrition in Women from Adolescence to Menopause

Nutrition is an input to and foundation for health and development. Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and better health. Healthy children learn better. Healthy people are stronger, more productive and more able to create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of both poverty and hunger in a sustainable way. Better nutrition is a prime entry point to ending poverty and a milestone to achieving better quality of life. There is vast magnitude of the many forms of nutritional deficiency, along with their associated mortality and morbidity in infants, young children and mothers. However, the world is also seeing a dramatic increase in other forms of malnutrition, characterised by obesity and the long-term implications of unbalanced dietary and lifestyle practices that result in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Proper nutrition in women from childhood to menopause is very important not for the individual but for that matter for the whole family and for health of whole nation.


Life is nourished by food and the substances in food on which life depends are the nutrients. These provide the energy and building material for the countless substances that are essential to the growth and survival of living things. The nutrients include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The foods from where we get these nutrients are classified into five groups:

  1. Cereals
  2. Legumes (pulses)
  3. Vegetables, fruits
  4. Animal sources: milk and milk products and flesh foods (fish meat and poultry)
  5. Nuts and oilseeds.

Carbohydrates, Proteins and fats are energy giving foods.
Vitamins and micronutrients are organic compounds essential for specific metabolic reactions and cannot be synthesised by human tissue cells from simple metabolites. Many act as coenzymes or as parts of enzymes responsible for promoting essential chemical reactions. Vitamin A and Niacin can be formed in the body if their precursors are supplied. Vitamin K, Biotin, folate and Vitamin B12 are produced by microorganisms in the intestinal tract.Vitamin C is synthesised from a cholesterol precursor in the skin upon exposure to sunlight


For health from adolescent to menopause if we can do some life style modifications like increasing our daily routine activities, reducing sedentary life style and making exercise an integral part of our life then it would go a long way in keeping us fit and our weight would be under control our diet should be roughly like the pyramid shown here:

    • Our diet should have basically more of whole grains that is why we put them on the base of the pyramid. Oat meal, brown rice and whole wheat have low glycaemic index, so they should be used more often.
    • Oils : They should be mainly from vegetable oils like canola, soya oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil. What ever recommended daily requirements should not be substituted by carbohydrates.
    • Vegetables and fruits: There should be three helping of vegetables daily with 2-3 helpings of fresh fruits to give us our all vitamins, antioxidants and iron. They should be of different colors to add variability and taste.
    • Fish poultry and eggs to give us proteins and DHA a type of LCPUFAs
    • Nuts and legumes: They are the source of fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and fats. Daily 1-3 helpings are needed.
    • Milk as a source of calcium is very essential for proper development of bones. 1 cup of milk gives 300 mg of calcium. It can be consumed as milk products also as yoghurt with fruit would make an ideal dessert. Always take low fat milk and milk products
    • Red meat and butter should be in minimum quantity Alcohol in moderation just 1-2 drinks. Pasta, white bread, potatoes, white rice, sweets, aerated cold drinks should be used sparingly as they add to empty calories in the body.
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