By: Tara Mataraza Desmond, Culinary Medicine Program Manager

For women, each phase of life requires specific nutrition needs for growth, strength, and good health. Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, menstruation, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause are driven and defined by physiological and hormonal changes. Nutrient intake during these stages matters.

While caloric requirements for women are generally different from those of men simply because of body stature, micronutrient needs of women throughout life distinguish themselves from those of men. All of us need the right balance of macronutrients—fat, carbohydrates, and protein. But vitamins and minerals play important and specific roles in supporting women’s wellness throughout the lifespan.

Calcium, iron, folate, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids among many other vitamins and minerals, play important roles in reproductive health from childhood through advanced age. As women age, metabolic changes, and fluctuations in hormones, such as estrogen during and after menopause, impact the way our bodies process the food we eat, our blood sugar management and insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure maintenance. Risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis increase dramatically for women beyond menopause.

The great news it that excellent food and the joy of cooking can play a big role in chronic disease prevention, strength, and good health for women from childhood through the elder years. Vetri Community Partnership’s cooking and nutrition education programs help to empower girls and women of all ages to use excellent ingredients and cooking skills to their health’s advantage. And women who are taking good care of themselves are probably taking good care of their families, friends, and broader communities, too. The impact of women’s wellness reaches far and wide.