Micronutrient Rich Foods That Help Your Menstrual Health
- 6 Min Read
- Written by: Dr. Jatin Bhide
Micronutrients refer to vitamins and minerals that are essential for the sound functioning of our mind and body. These elements are required in trace amounts, meaning in very small quantities by our body. That is why they are referred to as ‘micro-nutrients’.
Macronutrients on the other hand are our proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, which comprise larger portions of our diet. Foods for healthy menstruation need to be rich in micro and macronutrients.
However, it often happens that people don’t keep track of their micronutrient consumption and end up being deficient in certain trace elements that lead to various deficiencies.
These deficiencies if not attended to, can further cause more serious health problems.
Women are more prone to such dietary deficiencies due to their nature of putting others before themselves. This can have an impact on their menstrual health and well cause complications during pregnancy. It is therefore extremely important to include micronutrient-rich foods in to your list of healthy foods to eat on your period.
Role of vitamins in women’s health
Vitamins are a group of substances that are essential for the normal growth, development, and functioning of the human body. Lacking these vitamins can lead to deficiencies and other health conditions. There are a total of 13 existing vitamin terms essential for our health. These vitamins are essential for maintaining a healthy life and menstrual cycle for women.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Biotin (B7)
- Folate (folic acid or B9)
Role of minerals in women’s health
Minerals are essential for our body to stay fit and healthy. They have an important role in forming and maintaining your bones, muscles, and organs. There are 2 types of minerals that our body needs. The first is the macro-minerals. Our body requires these macro-minerals in larger quantities.
The other minerals essential for us are the microminerals. They are only needed in small amounts by our body. They are:
Together, these vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in our health.
Let us find out more about the ingredients which are rich in these trace compounds and why it is important to eat food with health benefits.
Here are some micronutrient-rich ingredients that you can include in the list of foods for menstrual health:
Talking about foods for healthy menstruation, spinach is a big hit! It is a dark green leafy vegetable rich in both vitamins and minerals that can benefit menstrual health.
Spinach also has lots of fiber which helps relieve digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation. Spinach contains minerals like iron, manganese, zinc, and magnesium and vitamins like vitamin E, A, C, K, folate, thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and riboflavin (B2).
These components help in replenishing the lost blood and nutrients during periods. Some minerals like magnesium help in reducing menstrual cramps.
2. Fish oil
Fish oil is obtained from the fat tissue of fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, etc. Sometimes fish oil is also obtained from fish liver.
Fish oil is a rich supplement of vitamin A and D. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium which is important for bone health.
Other than that, it plays a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle in women. Healthy food during periods like vitamin D also has a role in ovarian follicular maturation for women with PCOS and PCOD.
3. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like lemon, orange, sweet lime, grapefruit, etc are rich sources of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) These citrus fruits can affect lady hormones like estrogen and progesterone and cause periods to arrive early.
The levels of vitamin C are important in maintaining the levels of iron in the blood. Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron which is essential for recovery post menstruation. Coupled with a balanced diet vitamin C can work well for relieving menstrual cramps.
Seeds are a boon to menstrual health. Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are all known to balance hormones and are often consumed raw during the follicular phase (known as seed cycling).
These seeds are rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc and vitamins like B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E. These micronutrients help regulate the menstrual cycle, help with a healthy period and reduce menstrual discomfort during periods.
5. Soy products
Soy and soy products like miso, tofu, tamari, black soybeans, etc. are all good sources of nutrition for vegans. Soy is packed with B-vitamins, iron, zinc, thiamin, copper, manganese, and folate.
These nutrients can improve menstrual health and help with PMS symptoms. Other than that soy is a good source of protein that helps in hormonal balance and regulates menstrual health during periods.
6. Starchy vegetables
White potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green peas, beets, butternut squash, etc are all starchy vegetables. These starchy vegetables are rich in B-vitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and folate. Including these in your diet can keep you satiated for a long time and give you a boost of necessary vitamins and minerals. Having a balanced diet during periods can help relieve menstrual pain and cramps.
7. Dairy products
Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, etc. These are all rich sources of vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, protein, potassium, zinc, choline, magnesium, and selenium. Calcium and vitamin D fortified dairy products can help in reducing menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, and water retention during periods. However, it is advised to consume dairy mindfully as there is a possibility that it might not suit many people due to lactose intolerance.
8. Meat and eggs
Meat and eggs are amazing sources of protein which itself has benefits on menstrual health. By helping in staying satiated for longer hours and maintaining hormonal balance eggs and meat can help during period days. Eggs and meat are packed with B vitamins, including niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, iodine, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins and minerals are essential for maintaining and regularizing menstrual health.
Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecan nuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, etc are packed with the goodness of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. They are rich in vitamins like vitamin E, B6, B3, and folate and minerals like magnesium, zinc, plant iron, calcium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. These B vitamins and magnesium play a key role in managing painful cramps and aches. healthy foods to eat during your period can be a good choice during period days.
Stay up-to-date with your micronutrients and reap the benefits of a healthy and regularized menstrual cycle with these micronutrient-rich foods. If you are on a diet, you need to monitor if that fad diet robbing you of precious nutrients? So, maintain a balanced diet with Food with Health Benefits, and do not forget to get your vitamin and mineral levels monitored every six months.
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- Abdul-Razzak KK, Ayoub NM, Abu-Taleb AA, Obeidat BA. Influence of dietary intake of dairy products on dysmenorrhea. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2010 Apr;36(2):377-83.