As a 38-year old, married female with two kids, I try to put balance in every aspect of my life. I work full-time from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., from Monday to Friday. I also go to school from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., every Tuesday and Friday. To keep in shape, I run on the treadmill at least 30 minutes, five times a week. I also do some of the household chores, including cooking, and I do gardening on my spare time. As for my family, providing them with sumptuous and nutritious meals has always been on top of my list. What I cook doesn’t depend on my personal preferences or tastes, but rather, I take into account the needs of my children and a hypertensive husband. The foods that we eat at home are generally low in fat
— mostly devoid of pork and beef — and high in fiber. Nuts, seeds and dry beans are main fixtures in my family’s diet.
Iron, one of the most abundant metals on Earth, is an important part of normal human physiology. It is an essential component of proteins that is responsible for transporting oxygen and regulating cell growth and differentiation. The forms of dietary irons are heme and nonheme. Heme iron delivers oxygen to cells, and is found in red meat, fish and poultry. Nonheme iron is derived from lentils and beans. The body absorbs heme iron better than nonheme iron.
For every 10 mg to 20 mg of iron ingested, only 1 mg is absorbed by the body. A person unable to take in enough iron may suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, resulting to less oxygen delivered to cells. Iron absorption is hindered by phytic acid, oxalic acid, high fiber, high calcium and polyphenols. As a result, an iron-deficient person may
experience fatigue, perform poorly at work, and have lower immunity, among others. Too
much iron in the body is also discouraged for it can be fatal, leading to organ damage and respiratory collapse.
Based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance, iron requirement for a 38-year old
female, weighing 118 lbs. is 18 mg. My normal iron consumption is measured at
10.36 mg, or just 59% of what my body requires. This condition has resulted from
the type of foods my family normally eats. Because I put more preference on grains
and meat-substitutes, like beans, I have kept myself from natural sources of iron. In eliminating pork and beef from our meals in consideration of my hypertensive husband, I have inadvertently excluded foods that are rich sources of heme iron.
Potassium is one of the essential minerals in our body. It maintains fluid and electrolyte balance in the system, and allows muscle contraction and nerve-impulse sending. Potassium deficiency may result to a fatal condition known as hypokalemia, which is characterized by muscle weakness and myalgia, disturbed heart rhythm, and arrhythmia. While it is encouraged to have a high potassium diet, it is also not right to have too much of the mineral in your blood. If potassium level in the body is too high, irregular heartbeat or a heart attack could occur. Signs that potassium in the blood has come to a dangerous level are manifested through weakness, numbness, and tingling.
In my case, I consume about 76%, or 3568.05 mg , of the 4700 mg of potassium that is recommended for my age and weight group. The deficiency, I believe, has resulted from sometimes skipping breakfast on some days because I need to go to school, or eating too little because of household chores that I need to attend to. To correct this, breakfast will be the first agenda on my list. I will have rice, eggs, and milk in the morning, or muffins, mangoes and bread. This would mean waking up earlier, but this small concession is necessary in order to provide my body with 100% of its potassium needs.
Due to the considerations I take in preparing my family’s meals, I have overlooked the possibility that some important minerals may not be included in our diet, resulting to significant levels of deficiencies. As a woman and a working mother, my iron and potassium needs should not be less than what are recommended for my age and weight group. Without getting enough iron and potassium from the food I eat, my health could be seriously impaired, affecting my family, work, and studies.
It is apparent that the meals I prepare are not enough to supply the right amount of iron and potassium that my body needs. To correct this, I would be increasing the amount of lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts in our meals.
The best way for me to get an adequate amount of potassium is including in my family’s meals a variety of foods, such as, broccoli, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, soybeans, avocados, apricots, and pomegranates, among others. According to studies, high potassium in diets can reduce the risk of hypertension, an added advantage for my husband.
Getting a clean bill of health does not guarantee that one’s nutritional needs are fully met. A nutritional assessment of this kind is very helpful in ensuring a more healthy way of living.