Nutrient Requirements
Energy: It is essential for a young woman to maintain ideal body weight. Many women are under weight or over weight. The intake of energy will depend on the type of activity the woman carries out – sedentary, moderate or heavy.

Energy Requirement of woman (K.Cal/ day)


Sex Body wt(kg) Sedentary Moderate Heavy
Woman 55 1900 2230 2850


It is generally seen that especially in rural areas, women consume less than what they should. Most often they take up heavy work in the fields. Obesity is not generally seen among these women, but it is important that they get sufficient energy to meet the requirement.

Dietary Fat: All adults should consume no more than 30% of total calories from fat (approximately 60 grams in a 2000 calorie diet) and a maximum of 10% of total calories as saturated fat (about 20 grams). Too much fat in diet can increase the risk for cancer and heart disease. But, remember that “low-fat” labeling does not always point the best food choice. Food products that are advertised as “low-fat” and “fat-free” often contain high amounts of sodium and refined sugar, which are as detrimental to health as fat. Also, some nutrition experts now recommend consuming at least 4 grams of omega-3 fats every day.

Fiber: Increasing fiber in the diet is probably one of the most important things that one can do for the health. A high dietary intake of fiber can lower the cholesterol levels, normalize the blood sugar levels, help to lose weight, and help prevent colon cancer. Nutrition experts recommend a fiber intake of a minimum of 25 grams per day. Many foods contain good amounts of fiber, including green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage, lentils and brown rice, whole grains.

Calcium: Adequate amount of calcium is necessary for bone health. The active growth phase occurs from birth to approximately 20 years of age. Peak bone mass development occurs between the ages of 12 and 30. The final phase, when resorption exceeds formation begins between age 30 and 40 and continues throughout the remainder of life.

Bone loss is a natural process that cannot be completely prevented. However by developing maximal bone mass during early adulthood they its impact can be arrested. Increased calcium intake and moderate physical activity can help in maximizing bone mass and minimizing bone loss later in life.
The calcium intakes of many individual women are lower than average. Thus they face the risk of osteoporosis at a later age. Therefore it is essential to see that calcium rich foods are taken regularly and some amount of physical activity is also carried out. While the Indian RDA for calcium is 600mg/day for women, many western countries have raised it to 1000 and even 1500 mg/day.

Iron: During early and middle adulthood women are in precarious state with respect to iron sufficiency. Iron losses are high due to menstrual loss whereas iron intake is lower than recommended intake. It is a challenge to obtain sufficient iron and overcome the problem of iron deficiency. Since many women cannot meet their iron requirements from food alone due to lack of awareness of good sources of iron and the methods to enhance its absorption. Therefore it becomes necessary to provide supplements in periods of higher need.
As far as food is concerned, a judicious combination of heme and non heme sources of iron along with iron absorption enhancers will go a long way in meeting the iron needs.

Folic acid: An important vitamin which should be present in adequate quantity in the diets of women of the reproductive age group, is folic acid. Women who plan a pregnancy must have sufficient quantities of folic acid in their pre pregnancy diet. Those who use oral contraceptives have a higher requirement. Physiological stress such as disease also increase the need for folic acid.

Heart-healthy nutrients: High dietary intake of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 is known to lower blood levels of homocysteine, a by-product of metabolism that can cause damage to artery walls, setting the stage for the development of atherosclerosis. A high blood homocysteine level (called hyperhomocysteinemia) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and low intake of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are key risk factors for hyperhomocysteinemia. Excellent sources of folic acid include spinach, broccoli, beets, turnip greens, liver and lentils. Excellent sources of B6 include bell peppers, turnip greens, cauliflower, garlic, tuna, and mustard greens.

Antioxidant nutrients: To help prevent heart disease and cancer, focus on obtaining an abundance of the antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin C and the carotenoids, to protect the cells from free radical damage. Food sources of these nutrients include dark green leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits.

Recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for Indian woman


Nutrient Sedentary Moderate Heavy
1900 2230 2850
Protein (g/d) 55 55 55
Fat (g/d) 20 25 30
Calcium (mg/d) 600 600 600
Iron (mg/d) 21 21 21
Vit. A .µg/d
600 600 600
Thiamine(mg/d) 1.0 1.1 1.4
Riboflavin(mg/d) 1.1 1.3 1.7
Nicotinic acid(mg/d) 12 14 16
Acid (mg/d)
40 40 40
Folic acid (µg/d) 200 200 200