Special Considerations for Vegetarian Women

Special Considerations for Vegetarian Women

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If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, consider all of the effects that the diet change could have on your overall health. Any major change in diet or exercise should be discussed with your physician first. If you are already a vegetarian and are unhappy with your overall health and physical capabilities, you should also speak with your physician. Women have special needs when it comes to nutrition. Following are a few things for women to keep in mind while they are on a vegetarian diet.

Special Considerations for Vegetarian Women

Women’s Special Needs
Women and men are different physically. They have different nutritional needs and different nutritional elements to focus on. Women need extra calcium, for example. As they age, women are far more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. That means an increased porosity and decreased density in the bones. Sufficient calcium is essential to prevent the onset of osteoporosis and to slow its progression if it has already started. Folic acid is very important for younger women who may bear children. Folic acid is a B vitamin that aids in the normal development and growth of new tissue. Iron is a third mineral that is essential to a woman’s health. Because of the menstrual cycle, women are often at risk for becoming anemic. The increased blood loss causes all kinds of other side effects, but iron can help maintain healthy red blood cells. Both calcium and iron can make a menstrual cycle more comfortable to experience.

The Vegetarian Diet and Women
Folic acid is not difficult to get in a vegetarian diet. Leafy green vegetables are a great source of this vitamin. Most vegetarians do not have a problem eating enough greens as they make up a good deal of their diet anyway. Calcium and iron can be more difficult to consume enough of in a vegetarian diet. Many vegetarian diets deemphasize most animal products. To increase your calcium intake, eat yogurt, drink plenty of milk and eat spinach. That’s right, leafy greens can help you here too. Iron is not found with other proteins even though it is found in meats. You can get some iron from eggs and dried fruits. Cooking in a cast iron skillet is certainly one way to consume more iron. Fortified cereals will also be a good source of iron. If you don’t think you are getting enough of any of the vitamins and minerals listed above, consider taking a supplement. Folic acid, calcium and iron are all available in the form of pills.

If you are a woman on a vegetarian diet, you should consider your nutritional needs in light of that diet. You are probably already aware of basic nutrition and the need for foods from all of the major food groups. You may not have been aware of your special needs as a woman. While you make up your menus, make sure you leave room for plenty of folic acid, calcium and iron. If you do decide to take a multivitamin or supplements of any of the listed vitamins and minerals, you will still need to regularly include them in your diet.

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